Norwegian Hope Center reinvents its ministry amid Coronavirus lockdown.
Published on: 08-01-2020
When COVID-19 hit Norway late last February and turned the lives of its residents upside down, Delfred and Hannah Onde thought that everything their team was accomplishing in the Oslo community would come to a grinding halt. It wasn’t long, however, before the Holy Spirit helped them to begin thinking outside the box.
PASSION FOR MISSION
Originally from the Philippines, Delfred, a pastor, and Hannah, a nurse, have served as missionaries in various world regions for 15 years.¹ Then in January 2019, together with their young daughter, Zion Amber, they moved to Oslo to serve as project coordinators at the Seventh-day Adventist Hope Center in Norway’s capital city. Working closely with the other core team leaders—David Havstein, Simon Martin, and Willy Aronsen—the Ondes began introducing projects and techniques that had worked successfully for them in other regions. Together with ideas generated at the group’s brainstorming sessions, the facility, officially called the Adventist Center (Adventist SENTER in Norwegian) is becoming a local household name.
“The presence of the Adventist Center and its projects was felt quickly in Oslo, and its reputation spread rapidly,” Delfred says.
After determining the community’s most pressing needs, the center began offering a free weekly Norwegian language course, led by the local Betel Adventist Church pastor, David Havstein, and his wife, Nanna-Lise. Soon, between 30 and 40 community residents from various cultures, denominations, and religious backgrounds were attending regularly.
FROM ONE PROJECT TO ANOTHER
Delfred and Hannah next initiated an international cooking class. Both church members and community residents attended, including some students from the language program.
“New faces showed up at every class, because students were telling and bringing their friends and family members,” Hannah says.
The team’s creative thinking then envisioned a “mocktail” bar, where they would serve nonalcoholic, healthful drinks. Two local church young adults, Bethany Martin and Daniel Riley, took the lead in this endeavor, which became a hit with the local youth and grew rapidly.
The center also offered other programs, including Kirkemorro (Children’s Day), Leksehjelp (homework help), and Samtalekafe (a conversation café).
THEN CAME COVID-19
But then the Coronavirus changed everything.
“The lockdown was a big blow,” Delfred says.
As the team members began to adjust to the “new normal,” they met online and brainstormed ideas. They longed to keep at least some of the projects going, and suggested continuing the cooking classes via Facebook livestreaming.
“We designed an online poster and other ads,” Hannah says. “Then we informed all our Adventist Center contacts about the cooking classes by sending them personal text messages.”
The team was apprehensive about the online classes. Will this work? they wondered. The answer was Yes!
“The total number of viewers was eight to 10 times higher than the number of regular attendees who came to the classes before the lockdown,” Delfred says.
The group now livestreams Sabbath worship services and prayer meetings, along with weekly online Bible studies.
“IF THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY”
“Because of the crisis, we found and tried new methods of ministry that we’d never done before,” Delfred says.
“We can’t do it on our own,” he adds, “but we can do all things through Christ, who gives us the strength” (see Phil. 4:13).