By Markus Kutzschbach
I grew up a nominal Adventist. I knew little about God and His end-time movement. The I read a book that changed my life. The Great Controversy chronicled the lives of men and women who loved Jesus above all and trusted completely in His power. These people lived out their faith, and God changed the world through their witness.
After reading about the Protestant Reformers, I read the chapters about William Miller and the great Advent awakening, about how God used these people to fulfill biblical prophecies. Despite their disappointments and challenges, they kept on moving forward—in faith. I was fascinated.
The next book I read was Grandma Ellen and Me. This children’s book touched my heart. The more I read, the more passionate I felt about the history of this movement. I longed for the same love and faith in Jesus. I started to study my Bible and ended up with a Bachelor of Theology degree from Bogenhofen Seminary in Austria. Visiting historic Adventist sites in North America made this history come alive.
The Power of Stories
Stories are powerful. Stories of these early Adventists remind me that God can do anything if we are willing to follow. They faced challenges similar to ours. They needed encouragement as we do. Their stories remind us that God never changes and always comes through—in His time.
That’s one of the reasons Scripture is full of stories. We all love to hear stories. We learn from stories. In fact, stories are some of the best ways of sharing God’s marvelous plan of salvation. When I read stories about God’s faithful people from the Bible or the early period of the Advent movement to my own children, they share these stories with their friends and our neighbors. They all listen, because stories are compelling.
God is aware of the power of stories. In Joshua 4 God instructed Israel to build a memorial out of 12 stones from the other side of the Jordan. As future generations saw this pile they would ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” (verse 6). Every time this question was asked, it offered a golden opportunity to share a testimony of God’s care, grace, and power.
The Adventist Story
We too are invited to share the story of God’s leading of this movement. Children are not born knowing where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going. They need to hear these stories, for our history is an important part of who we are. We are called to share the stories of God’s leading, especially with our children—even though my own story illustrates that adults, too, are drawn by stories.
The mission of Adventist Heritage Ministry is to build bridges across time. It offers a unique educational and evangelistic way of reaching out to people who may not come to an evangelistic series. In preserving some
historic places where God’s end-time movement started, His story is being shared in an authentic, original environment. Adventist visitors to these sites will experience spiritual renewal. The thousands of non-Adventist
visitors who come to our heritage sites in North America every year, while interested in local or regional history, learn about eternal history as well.
It’s amazing to witness how the experience of a site visit renews faith and commitment to Jesus and His end-time mission, and how non-Adventists,
being deeply impressed, start to think differently.
Adventist history, however, is not only focused on North America. Since 1874, when J. N. Andrews became the first official overseas missionary, Adventist history has been written all around the world. Thousands of churches, hospitals, schools, publishing houses, and many other initiatives tell their own stories. Some are stories of sacrifice, pain and loss. Others tell about miracles and challenges overcome. All are memorials to the God who is passionately in love with this world. We need to remember and protect these stories, not because they glorify the past. We need to remember that they are God’s past—and
Markus Kutzschbach is the executive director of Adventist Heritage Ministries.