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Observations by Guest Evangelists

and Team Members

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From Rob Lloyd, Ministerial Secretary and Church Pastor, Hawaii Conference

Dear Elder Folkenberg,  I had a fabulous time in my Campaigns. I ended up preaching two Campaigns in two different villages: Maurak and Waramecén. In Waramecén I was translated into Pemón Indian dialect, and in Maurak about half the time it was both Pemón and Spanish. The Lord blessed us with 99 baptisms between the two churches -- 95 from my two Campaigns and 4 from an associate who was unordained. I have been a pastor for 30 years and never came close to baptizing this many in a year, let alone in a single Campaign.

However, I have never conducted such a high-tech, low-stress Campaign in my entire ministry! Your PowerPoint slides are very well done, captivating both the attention and imagination. The sermon notes are thorough and gave me more than enough material for each presentation. Furthermore, I appreciated their format which presented the information in a way that allowed me to preach using my own words. Thus any pastor or layperson can readily conduct a first rate evangelistic Campaign using advanced technology yet personalize it so that it feels as though they are working "in their own armor." In fact, this material is so user-friendly that early next year I will use your PowerPoint slides and sermon notes to conduct an evangelistic series in my church -- incorporating children in grades three through six as speakers!

Throughout my Campaign I wrote a journal in the form of newsletters which I e-mailed to my congregation back in Kailua, Hawaii. These were a real hit with my members and give them a window on global evangelism. They certainly understand now why I have already signed on to team up with you in Kenya in May/June of 2002. Yet the newsletters also generated a spirit of enthusiasm for ongoing evangelism in the Kailua Church.

If I had any difficulty at all it would be in enjoying the experience too much. Living next to an Indian village, photographing their children and village life, even eating their Indian food, preaching to packed churches, accepting them as equals and treating them with deference and respect -- all added up to a real bond of affection developing between us. At times I had to work at being an evangelist because it was so easy to also wear the hat of a cultural anthropologist, etc. I only had one bad experience the whole time I was there -- and it was excruciating. It had to do with my plane leaving early just as a truckload of people from the churches arrived to see us off. Other than that what I experienced was terrific. Thank you for helping make this happen! It was great to see you again. God bless and aloha. If you make it to Hawaii I'd love to have you preach in my church. Please consider this a standing invitation. Rob

From Lonnie Melashenko, Speaker-Director of the Voice of Prophecy:

"Voice to the World" is Voice of Prophecy's all-new evangelism thrust designed for the new millennium. I have been encouraged to extend my responsibilities into the arena of front-line evangelism and begin conducting meetings worldwide. Last month we got down there into the trenches on the firing line with public evangelistic meeting number one. And what a thrill to start out in Caracas, Venezuela! Since Voice of Prophecy already covers a large portion of the world with our Bible School and radio broadcasts, not to mention television and our hugely-successful website, I am excited about being "rebaptized into the pool of evangelism." I've preached evangelistic meetings in the USA and overseas in the past, but this is a new and intentional thrust of our ministry for the new millennium. We joined forces in a huge blitz of teams covering the entire country of Venezuela October 12-27 and took six teams from the Voice of Prophecy to embrace the difficult challenge of Caracas, the capital city. Approaching 6 million in population, it boasts one of the highest crime rates and murder records in the world. Many of our teams were assigned bodyguards, which meant each team had to be carefully briefed on security issues and kidnappings. But God chose to smile down upon us heaven's choicest blessings. One of the goals of our joint effort was to operate these meetings on an extremely low budget and utilize local musicians and translators as far as possible and basically keep rental and overhead costs to zero. Very little advertising and promotion was done, except by word of mouth and local church members inviting their friends * the key to success in Latin America, we discovered! For example, in one church meeting alone we had 1100 Bible School graduates. Laymen did all the work! We brought our own projectors and graphics, adapting sermons from both the new ASI materials as well as Bob Folkenberg's Spanish series. Two medical personnel and some laymen joined our teams, and we were "in business" for 19 straight days! I am thrilled to report that every one of our teams indicates this is without question one of the highlight experiences of their lives! As we completed our meetings in six different local church auditoriums, reports of 250 or more baptisms already came in (while we were there), with commitments for at least that many more in the next few weeks as the meetings conclude under the auspices of local pastors, who received all our equipment, sermons, overhead transparencies, and graphics as a gift from the people of America and the Voice of Prophecy. They are excited about continuing these meetings into the future with materials and equipment that give them a brand-new exciting approach to do evangelism.

From Bob Cowan, Pastor in Kahului, Hawaii

Dear Elder Folkenberg:  Going to Venezuela to hold evangelistic meetings was a great experience for me. I have been to the Philippines previously and also had a wonderful time there. God's people around the parts of the world that I have visited are warm and friendly and appreciative of what we, Pastors & laymen from North America, are doing with and for them.

I was assigned to San Cristobal. It is a 400 year old city of 800,000 population in the mountains of Western Venezuela at the 1,500 foot elevation of the Andes mountains, one hour's drive East of Colombia. There are 6 churches in the San Cristobal area which are pastored by Richard Urdaneta, my host pastor, while I was there. I was assigned to the La Concordia Church. My translator was Elder Efrain Poloche, the Hispanic Coordinator for the South Atlantic Conference, and the brother of the treasurer of the Venezuelan/Antillian Union. He was invaluable. He not only translated for me during the meetings every night and on 3 Sabbath mornings, he also went with me to all the visitiation appointments and translated for me plus he conducted a baptismal class in Spanish with the interests. We baptized 25 people during our Campaign, praise the Lord! Some of them were backslidden Adventists, who were coming back to the Lord. Some were new people. Most of them had amazing stories to tell of how God was leading them to give their hearts to Him.

The attendance held up very steadily for the duration of the meetings. We had around 200 people each evening and around 300 on Sabbath mornings. Some of the saints told me the visuals (color pictures on the screen) were a great help, plus the team from North America created an additional interest factor. They said this was the best supported Campaign they had had in years. Let me tell you briefly about Enrique Garcia. He is 28 years old, an architectural student at a University in San Cristobal. He was baptized when he was about 12 years old, but had not been to church in many years.  On the Friday night prior to our opening meeting which was to be on Sabbath morning, he couldn't sleep most of the night. He got dressed early on Sabbath morning and came to the La Concordia Adventist Church. When he arrived the church was full, but he found a seat next to a young lady. She thought he was the translator, because he can speak both English and Spanish. As a part of my sermon that morning I shared my personal testimony of how I had been baptized at age 13, had backslidden at age 15, then at age 21 when I was a University student, on a Friday night the Holy Spirit was working mightily with me. So that evening I gave my heart to Jesus, went to Church the following day, and was rebaptized a short time later, and was called by God into the ministry and have rejoiced in the Lord ever since. Enrique came forward on the altar call at that meeting to dedicate his life to God anew. He told me afterward he felt so close to me because my experience had been so much like his. He was baptized 2 weeks later, on Sabbath morning, Oct. 27. His Adventist mother lives in Caracas. He wanted her to come to San Cristobal to be present at his baptism. She has no car. He tried to phone her but could not reach her. He asked me on Friday night, Oct. 19, to have my host pastor phone the pastor of his mother's church, the Paradise Church in Caracas, & make an announcement in church the next day, Sabbath, Oct. 20, that the mother of Enrique Garcia, was invited to her son's baptism the following Sabbath in San Cristobal. The Pastor's wife in Caracas didn't wait until Sabbath morning. She phoned Enrique's mother and told her the good news. Enrique's mother rode a bus all night from Caracas to San Cristobal on Friday, Oct. 26 to be present at her son's baptism. Then she rode a bus all night Saturday night, Oct. 27 to get back to Caracas by Sunday morning. They were both beaming with joy when I took their picture after Enrique's' baptism. It would have been worth it if I had traveled all the way from Hawaii to San Cristobal just for Enrique. But there were 24 more with thrilling stories. I wish I had time to tell you all of them. Thank you for the privilege of participating in global evangelism.

I look forward to doing it again somewhere, sometime in the future at God's own choosing. I also have returned to my home church with a renewed enthusiasm for doing evangelism here. As I have reported to my church about my experiences in Venezuela, I think they too have a renewed interest in soul winning as our number one job as Adventists as we prepare to meet our Lord. Yours for a finished work now,  Bob Cowan. Kahului, HI

From Ben Kochenower, Public Accountant, Gaffney, South Carolina

An absolute total, complete experience!  Both Susan and I have been greatly blessed and enriched.  If you want an opportunity to work in God's field.  If you have  ever wanted to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but were too timid, did not know what to say or how to go about it, or were to intimidated by the preparation as well as the presentation--this is for you!

The excuses are all gone.  You have big-league equipment and graphics, and world-class sermons in a form between full text and expanded outline to facilitate your preparation.

We had been paying our admission and sitting in the stands, watching (cheering, analyzing, etc.). Then we were invited to not only come onto the field, but to get into the game, to pick up a bat, and step up to the plate!  As a result, our lives have been forever changed, and we pray that each one could have the experience we have been blessed with.  Ben and Susan

From Eddie General, Pastor of Lahaina SDA Church in Maui, Hawaii

Dear Elder Folkenberg:

Here are some of my observations during my reaping campaign at Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. The people were very friendly. I had all kinds of help setting up my equipments. I even had a teenager assistant helping me operate my lap top during song service.

I really liked the fact that Reginald & Lauren Lawson and I had the same host family. We were able to help & support each other anytime we needed help. We were able to share our experiences at meal times and at other times as well.  I was very pleased with my lady translator. I thought she really did a great job in spite of the fact that it was only her first time.

I didn't really get to visit a lot during day time. The Pastor's car broke down for few days and he was quite busy with other things. He had 2 or 3 Campaigns going in his district simultaneously. He was able to take me to the schools and several churches though. I was grateful for that.

At one point the Pastors of several districts met with us and discussed the possibility of having a joint church service and baptism on the last Sabbath. We ended up having our own church service and baptism though. Some of the reasons were not enough money to rent a big place & the rivers were muddy and dirty because of the recent storm. I ended doing the baptism in a church's baptistery. There were 36 people who were baptized in my Campaign. Around 10 people are preparing for future baptism. There was a lady Pentecostal Pastor who came to most of the meetings and even brought her parents. She is still studying the church teaching right now.

My only other great challenge was wearing a suit with a tie while preaching in a very hot and humid meeting venue. My long sleeve was soaked and wet every night during the preaching and after the preaching. It became a tradition for me to bring an extra shirt to wear on my way home.

Over all though, it was a life changing experience. That was the biggest baptism I ever had. I praise the Lord for all the efforts of the Pastor there together with the lay people in preparing for that Campaign. The Pastor actually almost doubled his goal for baptism in his district.

I would like to thank you for this great opportunity to work with our fellow Pastors overseas in gathering the harvest of souls for Christ's kingdom.

From Dean Waterman, Local Church Elder, Ringgold, GA

When I prepared for my trip to Venezuela, I suspected I would have some personal reactions that would change my  outlook on my life and my relationship to God. But nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I felt, and still feel. These 3 weeks spent in Venezuela, presenting the love of God are the best three weeks I have ever spent.

I learned much from my Brothers and Sisters in Venezuela. I learned through them the value of the Church and friendships built through the church community. I saw a deep and abiding love in the God that we serve. Their dedication to sharing the Gospel to their friends and neighbors inspired me to want more in my personal life. As I presented the meetings over 16 nights, I saw the walls come down in the hearts of the people who attended. I felt the Spirit of God move. I could tell you many stories of the lives who were touched and made decisions for Christ. But they cannot all be told here...

One story I must share with you. It humbled me and brings tears to my eyes every time that I think of it. In the church I preached at, there was a deaf girl who was 15 years of age. She had been deaf since the age of 2, and was unable to speak and communicate without the use of some sign language. She attended the meetings every night, and one night when I made a call for those who would accept Jesus, she came forward. The next day we met with her, at her families house. Through her sister, we told her that with her decision to be baptized, she must leave all of the earrings, rings, make-up and nail polish off. I did not expect her to comply with these wishes set forth by the Pastor. I was shocked and brought to tears the next day when she came with no earrings, make-up rings and nail polish. She was completely devoted to God and was willing to do that which He asked.

I share this story with you for one reason. Mayerlng did not hear a word I said. God spoke to her heart directly. I was humbled by this fact. And I realized a very important lesson. God does not need me to accomplish His desires. He allows me the privilege to work with Him to accomplish His desires. I invite you to accept this privilege as well. Your life will never be the same.

From Joe and Carrie Shafer, Pastor in Jackson, Tennessee

For Carrie & me, this experience in Venezuela is exactly what was needed for our own growth in Christ. The experience of eating strange food, hearing a strange language, and yet being so charged by a zeal for souls became our all-encompassing focus for 15 days. No distractions of phone, email, or church business just the passionate effort for souls. Though the work was at times exhausting, hot and sweaty, the joy of watching the Holy Spirit's power poured out and watching precious souls take their stand for Christ, not because of our preaching or abilities but because of the Holy Spirit's desire to use anyone who makes him/herself available. The perks were that our work was more then appreciated. The warm embraces, the smiling faces all spoke to us of their appreciation. Their open door houses, their neatly set tables, their constant offering of cold fruit smoothies, and anything to make our hot perspiring days tolerable showed us the gospel message like nothing else could. 

For me (Joe) most inspirational was the care with which the church itself ministered to those within the church, or those considering being members of the church. Our last Sabbath, we witnessed this in a wonderful way. A young man and woman after living together for some time, were married on the Friday before Sabbath so that they could be baptized on Sabbath morning. On Sabbath afternoon the newly baptized couple were escorted to an Adventist meal like no other where the ourselves, the Pastor, head elder, translator and other people of the church would eat. Following the delicious meal a car showed up with a large cake in the back, and the 30+/- people all made the 4 block hike to the couple's home, where the cake was placed in their main room, and many of us crowded into their tin roof/walled home. Songs were sung, prayer was made for a blessing on their home and marriage, cake was eaten and the grand procession then returned to the various homes in the area.

During the meetings this newly married couple who had several young children, received assistance from other ladies in the church who would take their little ones if they began to cry to hold them and quiet them or even take them out so that the couple could concentrate on the meetings. The church was a community of individuals that had crossed the borders of race and class and become a united nurturing family. Their zeal for souls was not so much bent on rule enforcement but on meeting the very practical needs of those in need. On several occasions I saw women and men in the church putting their arm around someone in the valley of decision and encouraging them to take their stand and make that decision for baptism. This is what I want for my church, a church so immersed in the saving of souls that it forgets about its own needs & wants. A church whose passion for souls will someday culminate in the glorious return of Christ. Thank you Bob, for making this opportunity possible, for encouraging us, and inspiring us to be zealous for souls.

From Anthony Cattouse, Layman from Brooklyn, NY

Proclaiming the gospel message of salvation is a life-changing experience for anyone.  But for me, who had just survived the bombing of the World Trace Center, preaching my first Campaign in Maracaibo, Venezuela was as positive an experience as the going through the trauma of the New York City disaster was negative.

The impact on me of preparing to preach the sermons each evening was overwhelming.  Both the preparation and the delivery of these messages to the congregation brought tears to my eyes, night after night. Ministering the gospel to others was also just the therapy I needed given that my life had so recently been spared. Touching others with the gospel night after night helped to heal the scars of that terrible experience. What a joy it was to see individuals and entire families touched by the Holy Spirit through these Christ-centered sermons. These sermons are prepared in a manner that is so simple to use that anyone who has the desire and is willing can preach them.

I thank God for this life-changing experience and only wonder why more laymen don't come forward to do the same. I never heard of a conference doing anything global in scope but the Carolina Conference has done this. But, since this opportunity is available, I have made a commitment in my heart to preach at least one or two campaigns each year and for that reason I'm going to Kenya in 2002.  Anthony

Sylvia Larson (raised in the Mission Field, translated for Elder Ed Shafer) brought her grand daughter Samara Larson (15) to assist in the Campaign. Both are from McMinnville, Oregon.  They wrote:

God helped me translate, which I thought I could never do. It was greatly uplifting to hear what marvelous things God was doing in the churches where the team members spoke and help in such unselfish ways. Sylvia Larson.

Something I learned on this trip is how to have faith in God, and trust that He can help me with anything big or small. He is such a good friend to have. Samara Larson

From Andres Sequera, Pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina

Elder Folkenberg:   My wife, daughter and I returned very refreshed from la Gran Sabana, of Venezuela. We were blessed with 30 baptisms in Santa Elena de Uairen, and many more interests were raised and follow-up baptisms are scheduled for the near future.

The new southeastern mission field is a brand new and exciting field to work in, with plenty of beautiful landscapes, as you will see in some of the shots I'm sending.  We lived a little bit of denominational history as Felicio was baptized on the 27th. He is a Pemon indian, and as many other indians who reach an old age, he does not know his exact age. We estimated he's in his eighties. His father was baptized as a young man by O.L. Davies, the SDA missionary to Guyana, and founded several churches in the sabana, including the beautiful stone church in San Francisco de Yuruani.

My two colleagues from Hawaii, Keaula Thompson and Rob Lloyd (Yuruaní and Maurak-Waramacen) had a great time, and we all became good friends as we shared our experiences in this true "mission field". Our flights to and from Santa Elena were very exciting, as you'll agree, as we took a 5-passenger Cessna from which the sights down below were awesome!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and thank you for your good coordination and for the opportunity to serve. Andres Sequera

From David A Pendleton, Religious Liberty Director, Hawaii Conference

My trip to Venezuela was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had done evangelism overseas just once before. But this was the first time I had to preach through a translator. I found my sermons to be well-received and the people to be very receptive. It was a moving experience to see so many give their lives to Jesus. It brought tears to my eyes to hear their testimonies. I went there with the intention to change them, to transform them, to uplift them. I came away from the experience changed, transformed, and uplifted. I was blessed working alongside with committed laypeople. It is an experience I will take with me the rest of my life. I still continue to stay in touch with the members of the church.

From Donald Sullivan, Pastor, Hawaii Conference

My wife, Dorothy and I, spent eleven years as missionaries in South America but not in the Interamerica Division much less in Venezuela. So going to San Cristobal, Venezuela was kind of like going home. We worked with the San Cristobal Central church, with three other churches in the district coming together for the meetings. The Central church was under construction so the meetings were held in the school with attendance from 200 to 300 including the children each night. I preached in Spanish so didn't need a translator. It was a joy to work with the young dedicated pastor Jakson Urbina and his wife Lucy--very talented young people. Also it was wonderful to visit the interested visitors with the pastor and with consecrated laymen who had been working with many of those attending the meetings and to listen to them make appeals to accept Jesus just like pastors. It was an enriching experience for us. And always an inspiration to see individuals giving their lives to Jesus. There were 30 baptisms. The last evangelistic meetings which they had only a few months previously, resulted in only 1 baptism. They were thrilled to see fruit for their labors. We thank God that we could be used to bring inspiration to the churches as well as to souls taking their stand for Jesus.

From Edward Varley, Allentown, PA

Dear Elder Folkenberg:  My wife and I just wanted to drop you a note and say thank you for the experence we had in Caracas Venezuela. You were right when you told us we would count our lives from before Venezeula and after Venezula. To see our Lord at work like that was more than worth all the time and effort that was put into this trip. We were assigned the LaTrinadad church. They told us they did not have a church that they could meet in every day of the week like these meeting required. They went out and leased an old Pizza place and converted it to a church. The first day, Friday, that I arrived, the place was a mess. There were work men all around and dirt on the floors. The electric and plumbing were being installed. I did not believe that in a few short hours I would be preaching here. But when we arrived later the place was transformed. It was sparkling clean, it had seats all set up, a sound system, a new electric panio, a pulpet, lots of flowers and lots of people. They leased a place next to the property they had and they are now planning to build a new church. Thank you for the experence. We will be keeping in touch with them and expect to hear great things from them. Your brother in Christ,   Ed Varley



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