“Now I can see why we are not growing. We have been hiding each other’s sins and putting people we know are not qualified into leadership positions. It is time for us to clean our church,” the church officer said.
Although there has been a Seventh-day Adventist presence in the Kono district, where we live, since 1930, the movement stagnated, and only two of the fourteen chiefdoms in the Kono district have an SDA church. Thankfully, we were able to locate the district headquarters church in our city. We only observed the church at first. Though, from the beginning, it was not encouraging. We noticed that no one had any control over the children. They ran around with food in their hands and would go to their parents on the pulpit platform even when they were officiating Sabbath School or divine service. The church also had no pastor; the mission did not have enough. Church services were not spiritual. Even the elders did not know what they were doing. Though the church had all the departmental leaders, yet the church board was not functional.
At the end of our month of observing, we concluded that the chaos was normal for them. We started asking God, “What can we do to make Your sanctuary a place of worship and a place to be revered?”
The Lord laid it upon our hearts that we should keep attending this church. He gave us the courage and desire to turn things around. God inspired my wife and our girls to start working with the children and youth. Florence now works with children aged 1-13 years. My wife and Patricia took on the youth class, ages 14-20. The group grew, and we created a Bible club to attract children from the school to the church. We aim to give out 100 Bibles to the school children each year. We provide lunch for 15 Bible club members every Wednesday and Thursday and feed 50-60 students every Sabbath. Each Sabbath, we separate the children from their parents, taking them to their classes. We also created a Pathfinder Club, and Patricia single-handedly started a youth choir. God blessed these efforts, and by His grace, we can control the children, and there is reverence in the house of God.
I took on the challenge of working with the adults of the church, and my wife has been helping with the women and with health talks. I tried a couple of times to advise the members about what God expects of His church, but my instruction was not heeded. So, the Lord impressed upon my heart to start teaching the church manual. Though I wanted to dissolve the entire church board and start over again, my wife cautioned me not to. So I turned every preaching assignment into a teaching opportunity using the Bible and the church manual.
In October 2022, using the church manual and the Bible, I conducted a two-week seminar about the qualities and responsibilities of church officers and how to properly conduct the nominating process. I began with a lesson about how God requires us to be faithful to our vows, including our baptismal vows. I also reminded them about the cultural vows they have made in their secret societies to which they are still faithful. I explained to them that, though everyone is raised to believe their lives and society depend on these vows to secret societies, God and His church are more powerful. I explained the earthly and spiritual blessings God yearns to bestow when they respect their vows to Him. By the end of the program, everyone was surprised by how much they had learned and their need for reform.
Praise God that by the time we left for furlough, the church was steadily getting on its feet, having a vibrant youth ministry and 20 newly baptized members (15 of the youth in Patricia’s class and five Bible Club members). Please pray for the church to continue reforming and growing and for members to actively seek others they may introduce to Jesus.