What if? That's a dangerous question. What if there were a culture of local mission in the Adventist church—an expectation that if you grew up an Adventist, you'd spend a year or two doing missionary work in your home state/province? What if only 10% of the 200,000 young adventists in North America were to give two years of their life to outreach ministry? With 20,000 young adults doing gospel work we could place two Bible workers in every church, and we'd be able to plant 1,800 new churches with teams of five young adult gospel workers in each. What would happen with that kind of concentrated outreach effort?
We don't have 20,000 young adults coming to SOULS, but we are passionate about the home mission field, and about young adults doing the work.
There's something romantic about the foreign mission field. Seeing another country, helping those in deep poverty, sharing the gospel with a people group that has no prior connection with Christ, and may not ever if you don't go tell them. The sacrifice of challenging living conditions is bearable when you think the mission is worth it. The change in diet and learning a new language only add to the feeling that what you're doing is significant. And did I mention the miracles? Left and right you'll see God doing things that just aren't humanly possible—hostile government officials will give you meeting space for evangelism, or a local village leader will have a dream where he saw an angel tell him to listen to what you have to say.
The neighborhood where we live, the community where our church is planted, the nearby large city—the home mission field—is not so romantic. Maybe we just don't see the great need our neighbors have for the gospel message, or maybe we're afraid that if we tell them they will reject us. If we do engage our communities we're hesitant to sacrifice anything to do it—money, time, and personal comforts are too valuable to give up for the home mission field. And the miracles? What miracles? They only happen overseas, or at least that's what it seems like.
We need a revival in our passion for the home mission field. Every Christian needs to recognize that they are called to be a missionary where they live. Every church needs to recognize that it's a beacon of light to their community.
"Wherever the people of God are placed, in the crowded cities, in the villages, or among the country byways, there is a home mission field, for which a responsibility is laid upon them by their Lord’s commission. They are to take up the duty that lies nearest. First of all is the work in the family; next they should seek to win their neighbors to Christ, and to bring before them the great truths of this time." ~Ellen White, Review & Herald, April 23, 1901
SOULS students train for every gospel-centered outreach ministry possible. They experience the seed-sowing work of literature evangelism, including Youth Rush and GLOW, and they learn how to run those kinds of ministries in their local church. They give Bible studies and learn how to train lay Bible workers. They do health coaching and learn how to start health ministries in their church. They learn to work alongside benevolent community programs. And they can tell you that God is alive and well in North America—He works miracles for them all the time.
There's a mindset that the Adventist church has adopted that says a minister needs to have a master's degree, have a mystical calling from God, get a credential from the church, and preach every weekend. It's a professional ministry mindset. But none of those things are true. God calls EVERY believer (even the young ones) to be gospel workers. While training is essential for success there is no need for half-a-dozen years of college to see success in gospel work—in fact, a nine-year-old can share her faith and win people to Jesus. While young people sit, anxiously wait for the church to ask them to participate in a board meeting or put them on a committee, God is asking them to take a stand for the Gospel whether or not their church endorses them.
"With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin!" ~Ellen White, Education, p 271
This gospel work of the home mission field will largely be finished by young people who refuse to wait for the church to qualify them, and instead go out and make a difference for God.
Come to SOULS Northwest and learn to lead your church to do the necessary missionary work in your "home mission" field. Come and learn to lead an army of Adventist youth.
When God transforms our youth—when God transforms you—you'll change the world.