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Jared Thurmon

is the Strategic Partnerships Liaison for Adventist Review.
You can reach him anytime on twitter via @thurmon.

Coming or Going?

It’s an easy mistake to make.

Convicted that the everlasting gospel has been given to the remnant movement and that it affects every aspect of our lives, Seventh-day Adventists organize an ever-increasing number of well intentioned events—prophecy seminars, health lectures, gospel concerts, marriage enrichment weekends—to which we invite those we typically call “our friends and neighbors in the community.”

Events can be planned, calendared, budgeted, and assessed.We can easily get in and get out with minimal disruption to the rhythm of our daily lives.

Going out and engaging with people in their day-to-day lives can get messy.

“Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not. They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace.

Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”[1]

Leading people out of darkness and introducing them to the Light is work—serious, hard, intentional, work. It requires that we leave the comforts of our own lives and go out into the darkness of a world filled with abusive relationships, addiction, anger, sadness, despair, sickness, and heartache.

It’s key to remember that before anyone can go out on a mission for Jesus, they must come to Jesus and ask Him to do for them that which they can’t do for themselves. You’ve read or heard that thought many times, but stay with me as we journey through it step by step.

First, notice Jesus passionate plea in the book of Matthew:

As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”[2]

Matthew 28:19 – “Go….”

Leading people out of darkness and introducing them to the Light is work—serious, hard, intentional, work. It requires that we leave the comforts of our own lives and go out into the darkness of a world filled with abusive relationships, addiction, anger, sadness, despair, sickness, and heartache.

I want to make a case that we followers of Jesus too often expect people to come and enjoy all the light we are basking in--when in reality they can barely make their way through a day of darkness.

If you take nothing more from this article than this principle, I’ll be happy:Go find people, Go find their felt needs, Go show love and sympathy to them. Go reveal to them the One who led you from darkness into His marvelous light.


Here are a few key principles to consider:

BEGIN MINGLING

“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen.”

“Talk of His love; tell of His power to save.”

SYMPATHIZE AND MINISTER TO FELT NEEDS

“the poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.”

WIN THEIR CONFIDENCE

“Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.”

FOLLOW ME

“Talk of His love; tell of His power to save.”[3]

In every community today, there are many who don’t listen to sermons or attend any religious services. If we’re going to reach these people with the everlasting gospel, it must be carried into their lives—personally--by one of us, perhaps someone reading this plea.A century ago, Adventist pioneer Ellen White understood the power of touching lives where they hurt the most:

“Many have no faith in God and have lost confidence in man. But they appreciate acts of sympathy and helpfulness. As they see one with no inducement of earthly praise or compensation come into their homes, ministering to the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sad, and tenderly pointing all to Him of whose love and pity the human worker is but the messenger—as they see this, their hearts are touched. Gratitude springs up. Faith is kindled. They see that God cares for them, and they are prepared to listen as His word is opened.”[4]

She noted our habit of counting on events and the need to plan to do what only personal contact can accomplish:

“Everywhere there is a tendency to substitute the work of organizations for individual effort. Human wisdom tends to consolidation, to centralization, to the building up of great churches and institutions. Multitudes leave to institutions and organizations the work of benevolence; they excuse themselves from contact with the world, and their hearts grow cold. They become self-absorbed and unimpressible. Love for God and man dies out of the soul.”[5]

Christ commits to His followers an individual work—a work that cannot be done by proxy.[6]

Ministry to the sick and the poor, the giving of the gospel to the lost, is not to be left to committees or organized charities. Individual responsibility, individual effort, personal sacrifice, is the requirement of the gospel.[7]

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in,” is Christ’s command, “that My house may be filled.” He brings men into touch with those whom they seek to benefit. “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house,” He says. “When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him.” “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Luke 14:23; Isaiah 58:7; Mark 16:18. Through direct contact, through personal ministry, the blessings of the gospel are to be communicated. The church of Christ is organized for service. Its watchword is ministry. [8]


I wanted to insert some clever line of my own in the statements above, but I’ve found no better way to say it than as it reads in Ellen White’s profound book on health - Ministry of Healing.

Ponder this one for a moment: When people are asked to get involved at their local church, do we ask what their passions and talents are, and how they feel those can bless the community? Or do we point them to long established roles and positions like greeter, teacher, potluck prepper, money picker-upper or pianist? Do we ask those whom God is bringing to live and worship with us what vision the Lord has laid on their hearts? What if God has equipped them with skills to go out and reach the community in a way we’ve never even considered before?

Some call our problem “attractional Christianity.”Others simply call it “finding the easy way out.” Are we just hoping—maybe even praying—that fish will jump into the boat by themselves, that people will come to us when we have been called to go out to them?

Ellen White was startlingly clear:

“The leprosy of selfishness has taken hold of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ will heal the Church of this terrible disease if she will be healed. The remedy is found in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah.”[9]

In Medical Ministry, Ellen White, passionate pioneer of the Advent movement, underscored why she chose this particular passage of Scripture as the crucial one for the remnant church:

“I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches.”[10]

That chapter is loaded with actions that of necessity require we go out and find people in need, and then help them.

They were not to wait for the people to come to them; they were to go to the people with their message. [11]

This is an illustration of the way in which we are to work. We must offer men something better than that which they possess, even the peace of Christ, which passeth all understanding…. He alone can satisfy the craving of the heart and give peace to the soul. [12]

In all our associations it should be remembered that in the experience of others there are chapters sealed from mortal sight. On the pages of memory are sad histories that are sacredly guarded from curious eyes. There stand registered long, hard battles with trying circumstances, perhaps troubles in the home life, that day by day weaken courage, confidence, and faith. Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be strengthened and encouraged by little attentions that cost only a loving effort. To such the strong, helpful grasp of the hand by a true friend is worth more than gold or silver. Words of kindness are as welcome as the smile of angels.[13]

Sympathize with them in their trials, their heartaches, and disappointments. This will open the way for you to help them. Speak to them of God’s promises, pray with and for them, inspire them with hope.

There are multitudes struggling with poverty, compelled to labor hard for small wages, and able to secure but the barest necessities of life. Toil and deprivation, with no hope of better things, make their burden very heavy. When pain and sickness are added, the burden is almost insupportable. Careworn and oppressed, they know not where to turn for relief. Sympathize with them in their trials, their heartaches, and disappointments. This will open the way for you to help them. Speak to them of God’s promises, pray with and for them, inspire them with hope.[14]

I hope you’ve felt the Spirit nudging you as read.That’s good.Don’t just sit there:get equipped.I’m inviting you to attend a conference with an unforgettable name--He Said Go—sponsored by the North American Division.It’s happening in San Diego California in just five weeks—November 18-20. My good friend Elden Ramirez is coordinating—actually praying—that this weekend will ignite the spirit of service that characterized the first followers of Jesus. Passionate speakers, including Carlton Byrd, Gary Krause, Jonathan Duffy, Dwight Nelson, Leslie Pollard, Randy Roberts, Andrea Luxton, Dan Jackson and others—will give you the inspiration—and the tools—you need to “go” on behalf of Jesus.

For more information and registration, visit hesaidgo.org "



[1] Ministry of Healing 143

[2] Matthew 10:7, 8.

[3] Ministry of Healing 143-144

[4] Ministry of Healing 145

[5] Ministry of Healing 147

[6] Ministry of Healing 147

[7] Ministry of Healing 147

[8] Ministry of Healing 147

[9] {Review & Herald December 10, 1901 Par. 5}

[10] Medical Ministry 263

[11] Acts of the Apostles 28

[12] Ministry of Healing 157

[13] Ministry of Healing 158

[14] Ministry of Healing 158

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