Our two days of prayer and fasting started strong on Sabbath, January 9, with a state of the conference address from Executive Secretary Jakov Bibulovic and a compelling message from President Mansfield Edwards calling us out of complacency. Viewers were also blessed by multilingual prayers, beautiful music, and a testimony from a young lady challenging viewers to be the hands and feet of Jesus. [Read more: First of Two Days of Prayer and Fasting Sets the Tone for Revival (adventistontario.org)]
Day two boasted more awe-inspiring musical performances, multilingual prayers, a short children’s segment, including a powerful sermonette by Gladys of the GTA Zimbabwean God’s Messenger Adventurer Club. “Wow! Truly a child shall lead us,” said Jeannette Hutchinson. The worship also featured upbeat commentary from our hosts, Pastors Michelle Clarke and Juan Carlos Atencio.
In a prelude to the English worship, viewers heard the moving testimony of Jhona David, a young woman who lost her father to COVID-19 early in the pandemic. She, her mother and brother also contracted the disease. For months, Jhona was distanced from her fiancé and church family but trusted God to pull her through it all. Eventually, she found healing in online social interaction, then service to the community and returning to her work as a recreational therapy assistant; there, she found opportunities to share Christ with her clients even while still grieving.
Youth in Missions
Early in the worship, attendees learned about Youth in Missions, a new initiative for youth and young adults in Ontario Conference. After sharing some national and global mission projects our youth have engaged in, Pr. John Scott outlined how churches can create mission opportunities for young people even in a pandemic. These include:
- Identify the needs in your local community (or in communities beyond yours).
- Create a team in your youth ministry that focuses on the felt needs of persons.
- Develop a vision and plan of action.
- Join like-minded persons to partner with you, including your greater church ministry leadership.
- Simply go on God’s errands.
One viewer, Dani, noted the lifelong impact of these mission projects on youth. When I was 15, I went on a mission trip to Cochrane, ON, with STORM CO. It made a HUGE impact on my life. It influenced my decision to become a Registered Nurse. Praise God! God bless our youth!”
Churches Shift their Ministry during COVID
This time, we also heard from churches about their ministry shift during COVID. Like many churches, Meadowvale chose to enhance its AV system and programming during the pandemic. “We believe we are creating a greater impact online,” its pastor, Asha-Dane Duncan, stated, estimating 200 people attended the church building before COVID; and now the church has been blessed with 1000+ viewers online. Their new schedule includes three online services—Sabbath Divine hour, “Upsurge for Youth” on Sabbath evenings, and Wednesday “At-the-Table” discussions on doctrinal and family issues.
In 2020, Meadowvale’s NCD survey was positive due in part to their hard work at providing online programming and their new spiritual mentorship program, a service designed with the intention of “closing the back door.” The program seeks to ground new believers in the faith. So far, they have retained 100% of the 38 new believers through mentorship. They are all blossoming spiritually and socially, and all keep in regular contact with the pastor and his team. “Retention has been the real reward of our labour,” says Duncan.
Heritage Green Church members also shared how God has been blessing their community service work during COVID-19. With help from an ADRA grant and other donations, Heritage Green created several business partnerships in the greater Hamilton area. For instance, from April to June, they served hot meals and drinks to 100 nursing home staff on different occasions, including Easter, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. The church also gifted Hagersville’s Anson Place with potted flowers and other items. Pathfinder volunteers arranged an outdoor concert. The church organized gift cards and grocery pickup for residents, distributed 50 hygiene bags, and made rent and utility payments for those in need. They also donated iPads to help families communicate. By God's grace, the local news even recognized Heritage Green Church for its service.
Another Call for Revival
In another highlight, Pastor Mansfield Edwards delivered a bold charge to members and visitors. Referencing Romans 13:11 and Revelations 1-6, Edwards reminded viewers of the seven seals, Jesus’ role in saving us from peril and how each seal’s imagery represents a time in our real history when God has brought his church through declension and struggle.
“We are precariously perched between two verses of scripture,” said Edwards, referring to Rev 6:12-13, a time of distress and darkness, and Rev 6:14, when the great day of his wrath comes (also known as Christ’s second coming).
“God is ready to do great things through us. Angels are ready to guard God’s people zealously,” said President Edwards. “Considering the time we’re in, it’s high time to wake up!” He urged each of us to come back to Jesus as we await the second coming and reminded us that every day is a gift from God.
Among the responses to his charge were – “Preach the Word. Wake us up. We are sleeping.” “Lord, may your words remain in our minds.” “Solemn awakening.” “Lord, open our eyes and hearts that you may enter in!!” Finally, in sentiments echoed by many, Urella Mason said, “Now is the time. By God's grace, I will be ready.”