Image Credit: Heidi Baumgartner

Evangelism Shark Tank Nets $43,500 for Washington

The energy in the convention arena was palpable because the best evangelism ministry ideas were about to be awarded grants ranging from $2,000 to $20,000.

Evangelism Shark Tank, a one-hour, late-night program with rapid-paced, five-minute pitches for funding, is a newly established planned evangelistic outreach ministry. In all, $120,000 was awarded over three nights at the CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention in Lexington, Kentucky.

Among the finalists were three representatives from Washington Conference who were supported by a large, boisterous crowd of peers.

Dustin Serns, Lifebridge Church pastor, was the first Washington Conference presenter. He talked about his church’s vision and investment in small community health clinics as well as the church’s dream for a larger clinic.

“When our team started these free health clinics, we didn’t realize this is also a key to planting Adventist churches in secular areas."

Dustin Serns

Serns' team had secured all but the last $20,000 to launch the next level; to include Adventist medical professionals in evangelism and ministry outreach to local neighborhoods. Thankfully, the judges filled in the extra $20,000 for Lifebridge’s free community health clinics.

The next night, Nitza Salazar, Washington Conference children’s ministry director, passionately shared about Special Stars, a ministry to give special-needs children a stage to shine on at Christmas.

“What I’m doing is just not putting on a Christmas program. I’m giving voice to those kids who didn’t have a voice, and now they have a stage to shine.” 

Nitza Salazar
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Nitza Salazar's full presentation about Special Stars for the Evangelism Shark Tank.

The holiday ministry started with one mother’s dream. Originally launched with 24 children, it currently has an interest list of 140 children — many of whom from the community who are interested in shining on stage. The Shark Tank judging panel awarded Special Stars $20,000, which will fund the venue for two programs during the 2022 Christmas season.

The final night, Rome Ulia, Auburn Adventist Academy Church pastor, represented The Two Percent Ministry to help keep Pacific Islander young people off the streets and learn how to help them include their parents’ faith as their own. "Two Percent" in the ministry name references the demographic data within the North American Division that Pacific Islanders represent. Shark Tank judges awarded the Two Percent Ministry with $3,000.

Meanwhile, over at the PK Journey for pastors’ kids, Yvanna Sophia Balabarca Martinez, age 13, pitched her own idea for the kids’ edition of Evangelism Shark Tank. She proposed a comic book about Jesus and superpowers. She received a second-place finish with $500.

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Rome Ulia's full presentation on The Two Percent Ministry at the Evangelism Shark Tank.

“Our team is doing a phenomenal job finding new ways to share the gospel message. God keeps providing the funding in extraordinary ways to keep the mission moving forward.”

Jerry Russell, Washington Conference vice president for finance

Featured in: September/October 2022