Sharing in God’s mission

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Receiving a handwritten letter at Signs of the Times is a lucky dip of sorts. It’s fairly safe to assume that the writer is an older person—younger people have largely abandoned letter-writing, not to mention penmanship—but you never know whether the envelope will include a cheque or a heated diatribe in response to an article that offended the writer’s sensibilities.

While I’d naturally prefer the cheque, my favourite letters are like the following one from a gentleman who lives in Adventist aged care accommodation.

“They give us a copy of your magazine, which I enjoy,” he wrote. “I read your article, ‘Three in One’ [on the biblical teaching of the triune Godhead]. What stood out was your comment, ‘. . . the truth of a loving, heartbroken Father, rather than the myth of a vengeful, bloodthirsty God who needed to be appeased by Jesus’ sacrificial death.’

“I am not a member of your Church. I would like to know if this is the teaching of your Church.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I sensed in these words a longing for the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father; a flicker of hope that He might be real. And I felt a surge of gratitude that a Signs magazine had made it to exactly where it needed to be—in the hands of someone seeking to know Him better. This gentleman is not exceptional—many residents in Adventist aged care are not Adventists themselves. The same goes for the families who send their kids to our schools, the people who frequent our ADRA op-shops, campers at Adventist campgrounds, employees at Sanitarium and Life Health Foods, patients and staff at Sydney Adventist Hospital. Every day there are thousands of touch points between Adventists and non-Adventists; opportunities to build friendships and share in God’s mission.

Is your local church seeking to create more of these touch points? It seems lately that nearly every time I open Record, I’m reading about the good work of an Adventist food pantry, op-shop or café that’s making a positive difference at the grassroots level. Then there are CHIP programs, care groups, public evangelist series . . . each of these touch points can be enhanced by the quiet witness of Signs of the Times. It’s fresh, current and direct when it comes to Bible truth, but without finger-pointing, guilt-tripping or assuming prior knowledge of churchy concepts and jargon.

Yes, August is Signs Month and I’m unabashedly in promotion mode. But please understand that my aim is not to have anyone stop their valuable ministry to focus on Signs. On the contrary, I’m trying to make it clear that Signs of the Times is most effective when it’s integrated with your ministry. Signs exists to support your passion, not replace it! There’s a beautiful synchronicity that emerges when the various parts of the Adventist Church work together to resource and uplift one another. You have a commitment to your community and a credible grassroots presence; we have a quality evangelistic magazine containing messages of hope—let’s get together!

But then there’s the problem of finances. While we work hard to keep costs way down, printing and distributing a monthly magazine (as well as maintaining an associated website, podcast and social media presence) costs money, while many of the most effective local Adventist outreach projects are volunteer-based and run on a tight budget. Here’s where we need financial partners; regular donors who believe in Signs and in the grassroots ministries where the magazine is being shared. Already we’ve identified projects where Signs is being used wisely and strategically—we call these 5-Star Projects. A donation to one of these projects is a fantastic investment in the mission of the Church and in Adventist groups who are already in their communities making a difference.

So, please, think about it, pray about it, have a chat with your family and your church board. Whether it involves reaching into your local community or reaching into your pocket, let’s work together to share in God’s mission.

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