A recipe for a successful weekend conference is to make it convenient for the attendees. But God’s recipe was different in Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) recently.
This is a busy season when people work longs hours. Organizers wondered if there would be a good turnout to a small-group weekend at Faith Assembly Auditorium in Pasco, Wash., beginning on a Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Church leaders were traveling to Pasco to introduce a new vision on healthy small groups for church growth. Organizers hoped local church leaders would drive long hours and make the same round trip all weekend.
Knowing the challenges, they began fasting and praying for the Lord to manage this weekend. They hoped this event would unite hearts of the leaders, the local pastors and UCC administration for this event.
“God answered with a powerful response,” says Walter Pintos-Schmidt, UCC multicultural director. “First, He made himself present from the very beginning. Early in the morning the day was led by God’s almighty presence.” Those who came had amazing attitudes and were sharply focused on the task. Local church leaders celebrated the opportunity to meet with Alejandro Bullon, international evangelist; César De León, North Pacific Union Conference vice president for Hispanic ministries; and Tony Anobile, North American Division (NAD) vice president of multilingual ministries.
What was expected to be one more training event became an amazing, transforming worship experience. By the day of the event, the list of new leaders willing to participate in the vision of LIFE-Healthy Small Group grew to more than 300 from all around the UCC region.
“The event started with dinner at 5:50 p.m. for leaders coming directly from work,” says Pintos-Schmidt. “Two-hundred twenty people sat at tables with the hosts Carolann and César De León for more than an hour before the event started.” The session began with Minner Labrador Jr., UCC president, who greeted the leaders and explained how relevant it is to allow God to develop small study groups out of our Adventist homes.
Then Sampaguita Dalisay lifted up Jesus in concert. Her music allowed participants to feel the presence of Jesus.
Training began to equip and empower church members to hold small meetings in their homes. The goal is to have a home in every block in town. More than 100 leaders became involved in one of the most ambitious spiritual and community outreach-oriented programs of the NAD.
In April 2019, the NAD will host Alejandro Bullon as the main speaker of an online event. The hope is for those in small groups in members’ homes will heed the call for baptism.
Church leaders who would like to participate in these small group meetings should contact César De León. Registration and materials are available for training and participation.
Each home can become a small place of worship, allowing God to bless it for His glory — God’s recipe for success. For more information on LIFE-Healthy Small Groups, go to www.vidagps.org.