Evangelism is God's business

This month's special feature celebrating 2004 as the Year of World Evangelism.

John Duroe, D.Min., is the ministerial association and global mission coordinator for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Benjamin Sulit is a church elder in the San Pablo City Seventh-day Adventist Church, North Philippines. In the past he and his family lived in Saudi Arabia. While there Benjamin was head of the X-Ray Department in a local hospital and his wife worked as a dentist. He was also the active elder of a group of Seventh-day Adventists. He produced a Bible Correspondence Course to be used locally, which was completed by over 80 people. He also organized small groups on the hospital compound where he lived.

Life was very comfortable for his family in Saudi Arabia, but Benjamin's mind seemed always to be thinking of ways to share his faith, not only in Saudi Arabia but also among his people back home in the Philippines.

The Sulit family decided on a permanent return to the Philippines. Benjamin's wife continued working as a dentist, while Benjamin tried a variety of business ventures, without much success. After much prayer, answers began to come to him. He decided to concentrate directly upon ventures for God.

As Benjamin thought, planned, and worked, he came up with an acronym which described his ministry: ALIVE (Adventist Lay Members Involved in Vigorous Evangelism).

His first project was to develop a Teacher's Guide for the Sabbath School lesson study. His local conference liked it and asked him to produce and dis tribute it to all the Sabbath Schoolteachers in his local conference.

He appreciated the Elder's Digest being produced by the General Conference Ministerial Association and decided to produce a local version, complete with 13 weekly sermons. The local conference encouraged him to produce it for all their local elders.

When the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) office saw the first editions, they offered it to every church elder in the division, subsidizing the publication and translation of the first two editions. Now the SSD office takes an active role in its production. Over 5,000 copies are distributed every quarter in the Philippines alone.

Benjamin's third project was to produce a Bible study disc so that church members could visit their friends using a VCD player and plugging it into their friends' TV sets. This was so well received by the conference lay people that Benjamin was asked to produce a children's VCD and then a health VCD.

When Pablo City church members went out to distribute their Sow One Billion tracts, Benjamin wanted an instant response. He wanted to reply to the Bible Study Guide requests person ally, so he included his cell phone number on the tracts and invited the reader to text in a request.

The Philippines has been labeled "the texting capital of the world." Everybody has a cell phone in their hand, not to talk to someone but to send a text message (it is so much cheaper!). The most natural thing for a Filipino to do is text. So before Benjamin returned home the first Sabbath afternoon after handing out the tracts, he had received his first text request.

Benjamin's latest project is to develop a way of reaching professional people, who do not have the time to respond to traditional public evangelism. He aims to target specific professional groups by appealing to their professional interests and inviting them to request, through a text message, a VCD disc on a certain subject. After they have viewed the disc, they have the opportunity to text in a request for further disc studies and to share the used disc with a friend.

In this Year of World Evangelism, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) is very grateful to have church members like Benjamin who put God's business at the center of their lives.

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John Duroe, D.Min., is the ministerial association and global mission coordinator for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

June 2004

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