It wasn’t easy for 19-year-old Sarah to pick up the phone and make the call. Dialing the number, she wasn’t sure what kind of reception she would receive. Sarah is one of 23 virtual Bible workers at our local Seventh-day Adventist church who participated in Hope Awakens, an online, full-message evangelistic program presented by John Bradshaw, speaker/director of the It Is Written television ministry.
During the series, held from mid-April to mid-May 2020, Bradshaw provided dynamic, biblical presentations online as hundreds of virtual Bible workers from local Adventist churches sought to connect with viewers from their areas through e-mail, texts, and phone calls.
“Hello, this is Sarah from Hope Awakens,” the young Bible worker said as Tammy,¹ one of her Hope Awakens interests, picked up the phone. The two spoke briefly about the programs, then Sarah invited Tammy to sign up for free Bible study guides and offered to pray with her.
Tammy’s heart was touched. “I’m just thankful that people reach out,” she said. “I watch a lot of sermons, I read my Bible, but it’s just different when someone phones you and connects with you.” Following Sarah’s prayer, Tammy again expressed gratitude for Sarah’s care for her. Shortly afterward, Tammy signed up for personal Bible studies.
“I’m excited about Tammy’s interest in the Bible,” Sarah said later. “It’s like Jesus said: we should just be friendly and reach out with the message that has impacted our lives, given us hope, and helps us face these difficult times.”
GOD WILL USE US
While you may not have opportunity to be a virtual Bible worker, we all have God-given opportunities to reach out to others, sharing the message that gives us hope and courage, especially during these highly unusual times.
As the coronavirus subsides, God is going to use each of us in amazing ways, giving opportunities to answer many questions to which the world has no satisfying response: “What did we just go through?” “What does the future hold?” “Why do you have a happy, peaceful look on your face? Do you know something I don’t know?”
People want answers—not only from the Bible. They want to hear it from us—our testimony, our experience of being connected to the Source of all truth and power—Jesus Christ.
Connection with Jesus is key. In order to talk with people (whether face to face or through some other means), encouraging them, bringing them truth and hope, you and I must first connect daily with Jesus—through Bible study, through prayer, through reading the Spirit of Prophecy, and by following His example in reaching out to others. As we connect with Jesus, He will give us wisdom, courage, and guidance in how best to let our light shine for Him. Time is of the essence, while people still ponder the deep questions resulting from this global pandemic. God is calling us to reach others for Him.
In the book of Romans, we are given a clear understanding of Christ’s righteousness, showing how we are dependent upon the Lord Himself, and how that works out in practical Christian living through a daily experience with Him.
The apostle Paul wrote: “I beseech you . . . by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
God is asking you and me to be living sacrifices—not only physically, but spiritually. We are to be a powerful influence on people because we are sons and daughters of God, our Creator. He wants us to be part of His great final proclamation. And in order to do that, we need to be connected to Him, not to the world.
The apostle continued: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (verse 2). Or, as the Phillips translation explains, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”²
Further in the chapter we see the practical application of what it means to be renewed by the Holy Spirit.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (verses 9-13).
A MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY
What a marvelous opportunity to understand that God wants us to take our eyes off those distracting things that take us away from an understanding of who we are and what God wants us to do. It’s a wonderful message to give to people as we face tremendous challenges following COVID-19. Unemployment is reaching high levels. People are facing all kinds of difficult situations. We need to be prepared, not only to encourage them, but to help them in practical ways.
Let’s share what we have—our spiritual, beautiful testimonies, and sharing with people the material needs they lack during this challenging time—helping people as Jesus did, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. And while there is not space within this article to review all the beautiful aspects of practical Christianity outlined in Romans 12, I encourage you to read or reread it for yourself in light of the situation in which we live.
As we look forward to the second coming of Christ, one of the greatest challenges Seventh-day Adventists face today is not the coronavirus, or nuclear annihilation, or religious persecution, or some other horrible situation. The worst thing that we face is pride and self. God is calling us to humble ourselves and honor one another before ourselves, to practice selflessness—the characteristic of Jesus Christ.
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs,” wrote Ellen White. “To seek this should be our first work.”³
We must be firmly connected to Him, through His Word, through prayer, and through the sharing of His Word. Then God will give us a mighty and powerful experience in helping others, as we prefer them before ourselves.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.