Pastor and Bible worker launch a center of influence
NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA
In country towns like Bourke in northwest New South Wales, unemployment sits at around 25 percent. Lower incomes, droughts, and a lack of resources mean it’s difficult for many people to make ends meet. Twelve months ago, Pastor Shaun Hepworth from the Bourke and Coonamble churches teamed up with Bible worker Albert Peter and both of their wives to make a difference. They opened Treasure Trove.
“We’ve spent the past twelve months renovating the shop and café,” explained Pastor Hepworth. “There’s a little café and ministry area out the back where we held five Bible studies—mostly with contacts that Albert has made—in just the opening week.”
Open every weekday, the shop is filled with a wide range of secondhand items: refrigerators, freezers, electrical appliances, beds, bedroom furniture, TV units, linens, and pictures. And it is becoming a very popular place to shop.
“We want to be a center of influence and a useful presence in town. We want to provide a service that isn’t being done by anyone else. . . . The Adventist church is on the outskirts of town and hasn’t really been working. We decided we needed a ‘front door’ for the community, so we assessed the need, and I made an application to the conference. They accepted it and bought two shops in the main street,” Pastor Hepworth said.
“The motivation at the end of the day is to share Christ and the hope that we have. There are not many people out here, and little Adventist presence. God wants to have an Adventist presence in these places. He does the hard work, and we’ve just stepped out,” he said. [Maryellen Fairfax, Adventist Record].
Former shaman among the baptized
MADISON, WISCONSIN, UNITED STATES
On Sabbath, September 12, 2020, about 50 people gathered to celebrate the baptism of eight new members into the Milwaukee/Madison Hmong Seventh-day Adventist congregation. Among the group baptized by lay pastor Chanchai Kiatyanyong and Wisconsin Conference president Mike Edge was a former shaman named Pa Chia.
Pa Chia, who grew up with the name Kau Fa, was born and raised in a small village in Laos. Her family was animist, and her father was a shaman. In 1993, Chia and her family immigrated to California as Hmong refugees, and she became a US citizen.
In 2010, Pa Chia’s father died. Her experience with the animist world was that his spirits came into her and told her she would now be a shaman as her father had been. She was not happy about this. The spirits were very controlling, requiring her to do many things she did not want to do. Curses and fears are part of animist belief, and whenever people are sick or are seeking relief from a curse, they come to a shaman to sacrifice to the spirits for them.
Chia became ill. Since shamans cannot offer sacrifices for themselves, she needed to find help. She saw a medical doctor and, although he recognized her symptoms were real, he found nothing wrong with her. His advice was, “You need to see a pastor.”
Walking down the sidewalk near her home, she met a neighbor and, during their visit, told her what the doctor had suggested. “I know my pastor would be very happy to visit you,” her neighbor said. The neighbor, Maitha Thao, was a Seventh-day Adventist, and she arranged for lay Pastor Chanchai to visit and pray for her.
Chanchai had a firsthand understanding of the animist religion because his father was also a shaman. He came to Chia’s home and prayed with her, and her illness immediately disappeared. She was impressed with the superior power of this Christian God over the spirits she knew about. She asked Chanchai to help her learn to be a Christian and study the Adventist faith.
In the fall of 2019, she began attending the Hmong Adventist group in Milwaukee and expressed a desire to leave spirit worship behind. On December 29, 2019, a group of about 10 people from the Milwaukee Adventist Hmong group came to her house with Chanchai and Edge to cleanse her home of the spirits and dedicate her home to Jesus.
While part of the group kept up a steady chorus of hymn singing, the rest of the group burned the shrine, cut up bamboo poles and boards, and hauled out carpet and anything connected to spirit worship. Then they went to the basement to pray as well.
Since Chia cannot read, Chanchai and his wife began to meet in her home every evening to study the Bible and Adventist beliefs through the spoken Word and used the picture roll to help her understand the Scriptures.
“Since coming to the Adventist Church, I have found so much happiness,” she explained. “I’m so happy, I don’t have words to express [it]. I am so grateful that even though I am very old, Jesus still wants to help me.” [Juanita Edge, Lake Union Herald]
Judge’s baptism highlights Adventist Lawyers’ online evangelism
DAVAO COITY, PHILIPPINES
Adventist Lawyers of the Philippines concluded an online evangelism campaign with the baptism of judge Ofelia Puerto Cabahug and her two children.
Entitled Law and Prophecy, the two-week evangelism series was born out of the desire of a group of Seventh-day Adventists in the law field to take an active role in the church’s mission to make disciples and prepare them for Jesus’ coming, said coordinators behind the initiative.
During the Law and Prophecy series, Cabahug was invited by her sister-in-law, attorney Gizelle Cabahug-Fugoso, current president of Adventist Lawyers of the Philippines, to watch the nightly meetings through Hope Channel.
“I found the presentation and analogies in the Law and Prophecy series logical, direct, and to the point,” Ofelia Cabahug said. “My questions on the doctrines in the Bible were further clarified.”
Cabahug is married to Gibb Andrew Cabahug, a Seventh-day Adventist who opened God’s Word to her. As a family, they said, they have also learned about Bible truth from Amazing Facts broadcasts.
Adventist Lawyers of the Philippines has a long history of supporting the Adventist Church’s mission.
“We seek to be involved in church ministries, particularly in the Enditnow campaign against violence, and in stewardship, legal and public affairs, and religious liberty initiatives,” they said. [Southern Asia-Pacific Division News]