A pastoral mission:
by Pavel Goia and Anthony Kent
Pavel Goia (PG): Roy and June, for some time now we have been hearing of the incredible outreach you have made to pastors and people in the community, whereveryou have been assigned. How long have you been doing this?
Roy Jamieson (RJ): For over fifty years. I retired as a local pastor in 2006, and worked part-time after that. Now, as a local elder in my church, I’m still involved in ministry. I preach and still belong to the local ministerial association.
Anthony Kent (AK): I see the number 9,993 in my notes here. What does it mean?
June Jamieson (JJ): That’s the number of door-to-door visits Roy made in Fort McMurray, Canada.
AK: That’s a city of 50,000 people. And and during a four-year period, Roy, you visited every home there–9,993 homes. Often you made contact with them at a social or community event, visited their home, subscribed them to Signs of the Times, and returned to pray for their family. That takes some courage!
RJ: Well, when I was young, I was shy and used to stammer. I thank the Lord that He helped me overcome and I feel that if He’s done this for me, I should keep speaking for Him as long as I can. I don’t feel pressured in preaching, making hospital calls, or associating with ministers of other denominations. I just enjoy it.
PG: So, what’s your strategy for building bridges with people?
RJ: Early in my ministry, it involved making some unannounced visits, but usually I was just following up Voice of Prophecy or It Is Written media interests, where people were desiring Bible studies. Other times, a church member would point someone out and say, “I’ve been talking to that person. They might appreciate a visit.” I would follow it up.
PG: So that was when you began. How did it mushroom?
RJ: When I got to Fort McMurray church [in Alberta, Canada], I found myself in a district with three small churches. Looking through storage in one of the church basements, I found a stack of three or four hundred books.
PG: What kind of books?
RJ: Books that were explaining our doctrinal beliefs, probably excerpted from Bible Readings for the Home. I thought, If I give these out, I’ll clear the basement, and they may do some good! I distributed them and thought, Hey, with some more material, maybe I could cover the whole city! I distributed a few more inexpensive books and then started handing out Signs of the Times with a card with my name and contact information. If someone seemed interested, I would visit them again in six months. It took four years, but I covered my whole territory.
PG: How many households did you reach?
RJ: Well, nine thousand. Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three to be exact. That was in Fort McMurray. Lac La Biche would be about three or four hundred, and there was a small community with a few little towns close by—probably another two hundred and fifty there.
PG: So, more than ten thousand. June, I know you helped!
JJ: Well, besides running the home, I worked as a legal secretary. During that time, we had to resole Roy’s shoes twice because he wore right through them from his visiting! Roy, do you remember that wonderful Muslim person that we visited?
RJ: Oh, yes. Twenty percent of Lac La Biche was Muslim, higher than any other city or town in North America at the time. During one visit, a man said, “My dad, Willy, is interested in the Christian faith. He’d like a visit with you.” So, I took Willy the book Steps to Christ. Later, he phoned and told me how much he appreciated the book and wanted another visit. The next time I came down for the local ministerial association meeting, a Pentecostal minister, who had been visiting him as well, announced, “We have a funeral today.”
I said, “Who?”
“Willy. He was killed in a car accident.” So, he and I went to the Muslim funeral. When we saw the family afterward, they told me they had always appreciated my visits.
JJ: We still sponsor a Signs of the Times subscription to his son—the one who initially told Roy to visit his father.
PG: Do you also distribute Ministry magazine?
RJ: In my districts, every minister receives Ministry magazine, unless they choose to cancel. Only two to three percent have said they’re not interested in it.
PG: What kind of reactions have you received?
RJ: At one ministerial association, one of the pastors commented, “There’s a good article in Ministry. I’d like a good discussion about it.” Ministers who had recently joined the organization said, “We don’t know anything about the magazine.” As the first pastor continued to talk about the article, a sheet of paper was passed around and one by one ministers provided their names and addresses to subscribe.
PG: So, you were given the opportunity to sign up more pastors.
RJ: Right. And when a Baptist said, “Fellows, this is something you need to read,” he had a greater impact than if I had said, “This is my church, and I think you should know what I believe.”
AK: If a pastor moves into a district, how would you suggest that they make sure that all the pastors in that area get Ministry?
JJ: Attend community ministerial association meetings and share that this is a complimen-tary subscription from your friends, the Adventists.
AK: So, your suggestion would be to meet with them, become friends with them. Did you ever go to their churches and meet with them?
RJ: I have preached for some of their congregations and attended some of their special programs.
One time, a member of a Pentecostal church phoned me and said, “We’re having a special program this weekend, Saturday night and Sunday.” I was able to go to the Sunday service and sat in the back. The pastor stood to welcome everybody and then announced, “After the hymn, Pastor Jamieson from the Seventh-day Adventist Church will come up and have our opening prayer.” I looked at him, nodded, and went up. We were close enough friends that he felt free enough to ask me spontaneously.
JJ: We also invite community people, such as church choirs, to perform at some of our special church events. We advertise them in the local paper, then have light refreshments where people can mingle afterward. Health programs are also popular.
PG: What impresses me is the quantity and quality of the relationships—friendships—that you have created with pastors, communities, and families because without such relationships, trust, and friendship, you can never reach people.
RJ: I’ve had the opportunity to study with a few of these ministers. One asked me, “Roy, I need to know what to believe about death, resurrection, and hell.” We both were very open since we knew each other very well and trusted each other. We had sadly lost a son in a car accident, and he had lost an older sister when he was a teenager. We both knew the reality of death. We went through the study together. After it was over, he said, “You know, I can’t say I agree with you, but you’ve given me a lot to think about.” We knelt together for prayer in his office before I left.
AK: People accept the Bible truths easier when you build a relationship with them, listen to them, and pray for them.
RJ: Yes. Before I moved to Fort McMurray, a woman began taking Bible studies with one of my church members. She had also been studying with another minister of the Evangelical faith who had really led her to accepting Christ as her Savior. As she studied, she thought that maybe she should follow the Adventists. As a result, on his final visit, the Evangelical minister left material on why a person should not be an Adventist.
When I visited next, I glanced through the material and said, “We won’t worry about that. We’ll just go on with the study.” A couple of studies later, she made her commitment for baptism.
At our next local ministerial association meeting, I invited the other ministers to come to the church to witness the baptism. The Evangelical minister who had been studying with her said, “I don’t think I’ll come. I’m busy.”
I replied, “Oh, you ought to come over.”
“Did you see the material I left?” he asked.
“I glanced through it. I’ve read it before.”
“What did you think of it?”
“I told her what I thought of you.” He immediately tensed right up.
“What did you tell her?” he asked.
“I said, you’re a colleague of mine, and I never knock a colleague, even though they look at things differently. He’s still my friend and colleague.”
He looked at me and said, “Thank you for saying that.”
He was one of the first ones at the church—for Sabbath School, not just the worship service. “You know, I’ve never been inside your church,” he explained. “Since I got an invitation, I might as well come for the whole service, hear what your program is, see what the baptism is like.”
AK: Praise the Lord. So, basically, you show an interest in families, pray for them, and build a friendship. You are willing to take the initiative, to step out and meet people. At times we may hold back, looking for a reason or excuse before we do something. You don’t need one.
PG: And you enjoy it; you care for people. How did the Ministry magazine project expand to the point where it enveloped the whole conference?
RJ: I was in the ministry in 1977 when they began the project of sending Ministry every second month to members and clergy of other faiths [PREACH]. I submitted the names of pastors in my district, but not as many names came in as we had expected. Not every pastor belongs to ministerial associations, nor does every Adventist minister look at it as a way to reach across the aisle to pastors, I guess. But this is something I just feel that we need to promote.
The first few months after the ministers started receiving Ministry, letters came in from ministers of other faiths, thanking us for what we were doing.
JJ: Another way that we get names is when we go on vacation. We drive into little towns, see churches with their signs, and write down their names, the town, and the pastor’s names if they are mentioned. When we go home, we check the computer for their mailing address.
RJ: And another providential thing—June worked for a real estate office, selling farmland, and they would get the local newspapers from all over the province. Local newspapers always have lists of local churches and the pastors’ names. When she brought them home, I’d clip them. We got a lot of names that way.
PG: This is a big project; did anyone in the conference help you?
RJ: I have found that no single individual can promote it on their own. You need somebody to back you up. So, I talked to a colleague minister who was also acquainted with their area clergy and said, “You know, I think we should do a little promoting in our Saskatoon area and get a speaker in.”
We had different speakers come in, including Rex Edwards, who spoke on one aspect of preaching. One man lectured on grief; another lecture was on Creation from the Geoscience Research Institute. There would be a good turnout, fifty ministers, when we advertised. We would always meet in a neutral place so everyone would feel comfortable.
PG: Fifty ministers, what an impact! Praise the Lord.
RJ: Yes, and we were careful too. We didn’t want to burn bridges with other denominations who might assume that we just want to make Adventists of them. That would be offensive. We respected them and became genuine friends.
PG: May your example encourage pastors around the world to build genuine relationships with leaders in their community, including pastors of other denominations. Thank you for sharing our magazine and thank you for showing God’s love.