by Steve Allred, class of ‘98, Pastor of the Yuba City Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Bible tells us that during Jesus’ time on earth He “went about doing good.” His goal was to seek and save the lost, and as Christians, He calls us to follow His example. Ellen White reminds us that the only method that gives “true success in reaching the people” is the one that Jesus used. She elaborates, noting that “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.’”
The Seventh-day Adventist church in Yuba City, California, has been praying that we can minister like Jesus in our community and invite people to follow Him. Yuba City is a mission field full of people who need to hear the everlasting gospel of Revelation 14. Besides being an ethnically diverse city, Yuba City is also a very religious city. For example, we have one of the largest Sikh populations outside of the Punjab state in India, with several gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) in town. In addition, Yuba City is home to a Hindu temple, an Islamic mosque, and scores of Christian churches.
Seeking to follow Christ’s method, our congregation looked around and we asked ourselves, “What can we offer our community as a service?” One lady, a paralegal, decided to volunteer her time to help people prepare powers of attorney for health care and finance. From her idea, we started a free legal aid fair in the fall of 2013. This biannual event, hosted at the church, offers free legal advice and limited legal services to the community. Adventist and non-Adventist attorneys, paralegals, and local law school students volunteer their time and expertise for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to assist people with legal issues. So far, hundreds of people have been served in a real, tangible way. Many of those people had never set foot inside an Adventist church, but went away with a good impression, and some with a good piece of literature!
When the opportunity arose to team up with AMEN and host a free dental clinic in town, we jumped on the opportunity, realizing that this also would fit perfectly with Christ’s method of “doing good.” Again, volunteers donated their time and expertise to make the event a success. Dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants served the uninsured and underinsured and, in the process, showed them the love of God.
Through these and many other ministry events, we have been growing in our understanding of how to serve like Jesus. Our goal as a church is to truly desire the good of those we meet—to love and minister to them, and then invite them to follow Jesus. What if, after loving and serving them, they still don’t want to follow Him? We still love and serve, because following Him is not a precondition to our continuing to do good for people!
Throughout this journey, we’ve grown as a church. We’ve become more outwardly focused and more loving. We’re praying more for the lost and less for ourselves. And there are people who are accepting the invitation to follow Jesus, which gives us incredible joy. We still have a lot of growing to do, and a lot of people to reach, so please pray for God’s work in the mission field of Yuba City.
* Adventist Medical Evangelism Network