With a blast of broken-English he said, “Mister, at Seven-day Church
everyone has a job for the Lord—everyone.”
Published on: 06-01-2020
Dust swarmed through rusted-out holes in the floorboard of the of the mission’s blue Datsun pickup. Its muffler announced our progress as we jarred along the dirt-road craters of the capital city.
Three small underground Seventh-day Adventist churches had survived the brutal slaughter that had ravaged the southern part of the country. A United Nations-negotiated peace had prompted church leaders to invite me to help lay plans for spreading the gospel. As desperation hung in the air, I focused on remembering that Jesus was here.
Forty-two church members attended the seminar. I sensed their passion. They planned, talked, and imagined 12 new congregations, an ADRA office, and an FM radio station into existence. I’ll never forget their burning question on the last afternoon. “Pastor, yes, the Holy Spirit will provide the power of heaven, but Pastor, how will we do it?”
Convicted that simplicity would serve best, I said, “It’s simple, but there must be no exceptions. If you want the church to grow, every person, regardless of talent, must have a job doing something for the Lord—every person.”
Sixteen months later I sat in one of the mismatched chairs of the mission office. Fourteen new congregations had been established, making a total of 17 congregations in the capital city. ADRA occupied an office just down the hallway. In the background, Christian music played from the Seventh-day Adventist radio station, the only FM radio station in the entire city.
Everything was a miracle. “It’s simple,” said the mission president. “Work and pray. That’s it: work and pray.” With the joy of the Lord he informed me I would meet the new members on Sabbath at a citywide camp meeting.
Sabbath morning found me walking the short distance from the hotel to camp meeting. At a busy intersection I noticed a young man moving rapidly from person to person, handing each a piece of paper. I thought he was likely a tailor, mechanic, or barber advertising his shop.
He handed me a paper I could not read, nor did I try. For while I could not read the paper, I immediately recognized the logo of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“You’re a Seventh-day Adventist?” I asked.
“Yes, two months ago,” he replied.
Knowing we were still some distance from the camp meeting, I asked, “Why are you here?”
With a blast of broken-English he said, “Mister, at Seven-day Church everyone has a job for the Lord—everyone.”
“What’s your job?” I asked.
With a look of holy pride he answered, “Mister, I am a one-kilometer greeter! There are seven of us.”
I quickly reviewed the work of the local church nominating committee. I recalled recommending elders, deacons, Sabbath School teachers, treasurers, Pathfinder leaders, Community Services leaders, and a host of others. But nowhere, absolutely nowhere, could I recall any position known as a one-kilometer greeter.
That morning I stood to speak to 1,200 Seventh-day Adventists. I began by asking, “I want you to stand if you are here for the first time because you were invited by a one-kilometer greeter.” I counted 28 people.
The creativity of the Holy Spirit challenges every church to ask, “What’s our version of the one-kilometer greeter?”