And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9:35-38 (KJV)
The harvest truly is plentiful; and there are still many who do not know about the love of God. Some are right in our homes. So the women of South Central Conference have been doing as Jesus commanded. They have and continue to pray that God would send forth laborers. And guess what? He did. Guess who? God sent the Women of South Central; He used us to answer our persistent prayers.
Since 2010, Operation SWEEP (Spirit-filled Women Exalting Eternal Principles) has been the springboard from which we have launched evangelistic series. Many of our women are preaching and teaching the good news of salvation. In 2012, the call came to come over to College Hill, Knoxville, Tennessee, and help us. College Hill has done evangelism for years but this would be different–it would be led by women. Through much dialogue and persistence, plans were put in place to evangelize, beginning April 26-May 10, 2014. The evangelism thrust also included a children’s ministry component.
We chose the Revelation Seminar Series. The Book of Revelation is an open book about the redeeming love of God who gave His only Son to save mankind. We used 16 of the 24 lessons and held 16 meetings: twelve nightly meetings, two on each Sabbath morning. Evangelist Shirley Scott enlisted the assistance of Associate Evangelists Gwendolyn Jones and Georgia Shingles. Associate Evangelist Gwendolyn Jones was the Bible worker that many of the attendees had a relationship because of the home visits. Associate Georgia Shingles was the coordinator, trainer and Bible worker for College Hill and would remain after the meetings ended. She would continue the work along with head elder, Marshall Henley and others.
In addition, a smoking cessation segment was given on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays before the series began. Each night before and after the meeting, attendees could have their blood pressure checked. Also, during the series, attendees were given tips on how to preserve their health, and they enjoyed music from various musicians including some of first-day church choirs/groups. Before the evangelist began the study, a three-minute animated video of the subject under study was shown to reinforce the Biblical lessons. Each participant was given a Bible with marked page numbers for easy locating of texts. The entire teaching was interactive.
For six months prior we prepared the church through evangelism training led by women. Team members passed out invitations and held several seminars. The women’s ministries director visited the church for an evangelistic rally on two Sabbaths to enlighten, enlist, train, and engage the congregation in evangelism. The Bible worker, Gwen Jones, arrived two weeks before the series began to encourage members to answer the Gospel Commission directed by women. The church was enlightened as to their responsibility, as children of God, to become involved in soul winning instead of mere pew warmers. The congregation was enlisted to partner with the women, and all department leaders were invited to participate in the telephone conference calls to discuss plans and implementation of every phase of this ministry. Once the church committed to evangelism, they were equipped for the task through ongoing evangelistic training sessions on Wednesday nights and on Sabbaths after the church’s weekly potluck. The church was then ready to engage in outreach. They chose cooking classes, parenting classes, and using a toilet tissue ministry in one of the neighborhoods.
SCCWM department provided seminar resources as well as funding for Operation SWEEP. Bible workers had already been working with prospective candidates for heaven so when Sister Gwen Jones, our Bible worker, arrived two weeks prior to the series, she was handed a database from the church pastor.
The church provided a Bible worker to assist the WM Bible worker. They visited homes, barber and beauty shops. Friends and relatives personally invited most of the attendees; only a small number came as a result of advertisement.
Virginia Holt, a Caucasian sister, had been attending Revelation Seminars at College Hill for more than six years, according to Pastor Alexander Lampkin. At the very beginning of the meeting, the elder introduced this thirsty soul to Bible worker/associate evangelist Gwendolyn Jones. Virginia had a laundry list of questions written down on a sheet of paper. Sister Jones walked her through the Bible, and together she was able to receive answers for all of her questions. Each night, Virginia was transported to the meetings. She arrived early and sat in the front row, consistently answering all the quiz questions. Her eyes would sparkle as she waited in anticipation to see how well she did. Her prize selection among the variety of gift choices would always be one of the books. She was truly searching for answers.
When Evangelist Scott asked if the teachings were clear, Virginia would answer in the affirmative. As we came to the closing nights, she decided to follow Jesus all the way through baptism. Virginia became the first fruit of the Redeeming Love Revelation Evangelistic Series. To God be the glory! The word of God says that one plants, another waters but God gives the increase.
Then there was Shirley Davis who came with her three great-grandchildren and Scott who was the owner of a barbershop. Like Virginia, they had many questions and were like dried sponges soaking up the Word of God. However, when told what the price of enjoying this everlasting life would be, they hesitated. They were admonished not to worry because when they receive a taste of the Living Water, life would never the same. They both are taking Bible study and Shirley and her children are attending each Sabbath. We pray that one day soon Scott will close his barbershop on Saturdays and find his way to the College Hill SDA Church. Mrs. Davis testified that she was torn and found it difficult to make a decision to leave her current church. She asked for prayer for courage and wisdom.
There were approximately thirty-five visitors during the 16 sets of series. More than twenty were given a Bible and the Revelation Seminar Bible studies. Each wanted to continue study after the seminar was over. Our Bible worker will follow up by visiting each weekend for a month to work with the church and its Bible workers. Their goal is to continue holding seminars each weekend with the expectation of God rewarding their efforts with a baptism each month.
Most of the attendees were Sunday churchgoers. According to Revelation 18:4, when the final cry is made to come out of Babylon, many will heed the call. In the meantime, the women of South Central Conference will teach, preach, and baptize. We have been chosen of God to bring forth much fruit and that our fruit would remain. We believe that for the woman of God, evangelism is a life-style.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a congregation to save and retain a soul for Christ.
Studies show that the pastor is the key to successful evangelism. His ability to enlist members and engage them in evangelism is paramount to answering the Great Gospel Commission as a community of believers. Pastor Lampkin was present in each of the decisions; words are inadequate to express our appreciation to him, his wife, and his congregation for their support. Special thanks also to Pastors Jonathan Smith, Carlton Byrd, and Michael Harpe for their wisdom, guidance, and encouragement. A great shout of thanks to Elder Dana Edmond for his support. Most importantly, we give glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving to our Almighty God for what He has done through South Central Conference women.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we must proclaim the three angels’ message to the world, beginning in our homes, communities, and all circles of influence. Time is of the essence. Soon Jesus will unleash the angels holding the four winds, and probation will be forever closed. Let’s work while it is day for the night comes where no man will be able to work (John 9:4). God’s redeeming love is our example. He mingled with people as one who would do them good; sympathized with them, helped them with their needs, won their confidence, and then He bade them to follow Him. Let’s go and do likewise!
Photos from the event: