Training the final generation includes strong outreach opportunities.
by Gillian Bethel
“I have two experiences to share, and I’ll try to be short,” smiles Alexi. It’s Friday morning chapel, a time when students and staff share inspiring testimonies about their weekly outreach encounters. We hear heart-warming experiences gleaned from colporteuring, practical helps, Bible studies, and health outreach, as well as overseas mission trips; but we are also blessed with some very unique outreach testimonies.
Four prisons have opened their doors for us to conduct regular Bible study groups, with 15 inmates so far baptized into local Seventh-day Adventist churches and others preparing for baptism. “I live for Friday nights,” enthused one of the inmates at the Coffeewood Correctional Center (CC), where Hartland staff, students, and local church members share with three different groups: English, Spanish, and Messianic Jews. Over 100 inmates gather at the Buckingham CC and up to 70 men at the Augusta CC to hear Bible truth and share testimonies of God’s goodness. At the Fluvanna CC, a women’s prison where 13 female students and staff hold weekly meetings, an inmate said, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” Another shared, “I have not slept so soundly since I started attending the Seventh-day Adventist Bible study and listening to gospel music at nights and in the mornings.”
Hartland’s outreach choir, the Three Angels’ Chorale, has sung in many settings in the US and overseas, including shopping malls, airports, prisons, schools, orphanages, churches, and even banks, but one of their favorite venues is homeless shelters. After singing to an appreciative audience, they’ve spent the night in the dormitories with the homeless men and women. “They don’t have cars to go to church, but we’re bringing Jesus to them,” says Alexandra. “They were crying and saying ‘thank you so much!’” adds Naomi.
The students in Hartland’s midwifery and doula programs have also found receptive mission fields. Both a pregnancy crisis center and a residential facility for unmarried mothers have invited them to hold childbirth education classes. The students were able to give the women spiritual encouragement as well. The pregnancy center’s director commented, “The Hartland students are a joy to be around, very friendly, open, and encouraging, as well as competent in their areas of study. And because the center is a ministry, the students are able to pray with the moms, giving all the glory to God.” Some of the women have asked that the students assist at the birth of their babies, and the residential facility has asked for vegetarian cooking classes from a Hartland health outreach team.
It is also exciting to assist our local churches and our church at large in outreach programs. A team of 15 Hartland students and staff were privileged to join the recent Your Best Pathway to Health outreach in San Antonio. All had stories to tell of special encounters and opportunities to share Jesus’ love. Hartland students and staff ministered through chair massage, dental assistance, hospitality, music, and many hugs and smiles to those they met, as well as enjoying the opportunity to work alongside volunteers and health professionals from all over the US.
On a smaller scale, but equally exciting, is Youth, Do You Dare? (YDYD)—a student-organized program seeking to ignite the fire within Seventh-day Adventist young people’s hearts to serve others for God. It offers weekend training in personal Bible study and prayer and gives hands-on instruction on how to conduct health fairs and Bible studies. “I liked seeing all the youth interacting and working together, especially at the health fair,” said a 19-year-old in Lake City, Florida. “I also liked getting to know each member of the group personally. I think it was valuable that they took time to mingle and talk with young and old.”
Before Alexi finishes his “short” testimony, the next eager hands are already raised. This enthusiasm for ministry keeps the fire burning in our hearts to serve others for God.