went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and
A retired Seventh-day Adventist woman in an African country did not wish
to stop ministering in retirement. Her community needed healing because
of the ravages of HIV/AIDS. The most urgent need was that AIDS orphans
didn’t have adequate nutrition. In 2002, she and her church started
feeding the children in the community a solid meal six days a week. They
started with 50 children and, as of 2012, were serving 300 children per
day. That led them to start a preschool, and now 45 of those children
are attending. Other services include distributing clothing from ADRA,
sharing vegetables and maize from a garden that they maintain, and
taking care of the sick. They started a skills-development program for
women, who teach one another skills that helped them earn a living. This
demonstration of the love of Jesus spawned a new church. There were five
members in the beginning and, as of 2012, 160 were attending. God
provided means for building an orphanage and a new church building in
2012.What a powerful and practical example of how meeting the needs of
the community is so important for Christians.
* Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 27.
Interruption for Ministry
Jesus steps off the boat on the shore
near Capernaum. (See Mark
5:1-43.) His disciples are
still reeling from the harrowing encounter with the demon-possessed
man in Decapolis. As usual, a crowd is there to meet Him. Eager to
get His attention, individuals in the throng jostle to be near
Jesus. Immediately He is asked for help, this time by a ruler of a
5:22-43. While Jesus was on His way to minister
to the needs of this ruler of a synagogue, what interrupted Him, and
how did He respond to the interruption? More important, what lessons
should we take from the story for ourselves about how we react when
interrupted for ministry?
Let’s face it, none of us likes interruptions, do we? We are busy,
we have things to do, places to go, jobs to get done. We set goals
for ourselves and want to meet those goals, sometimes within a
certain time frame as well. Interruptions can get in the way.
That’s why, if someone comes with a need or with a request for help,
it can be annoying if the time isn’t convenient. Sometimes you just
can’t drop whatever you are doing. At the same time, how often could
we drop what we are doing and help but don’t because we simply don’t
Yet often the greatest opportunities to minister to people’s needs
come through interruptions. Most of us try to avoid interruptions,
and get upset when our plans are derailed. As we look at the
ministry of Jesus, we notice that some of the needs that He cared
for came as interruptions, to which He lovingly responded. If we
think about it, many opportunities we get for ministry come in the
form of interruptions. We have already looked at the story of the
good Samaritan. Who knows where he was going and what he was going
to do when he got there? But he stopped anyway to minister.
Talk about an interruption!
When was the last time someone interrupted you with a need and a
request for help? How did you respond?
Notice, in both cases, that Jesus asked
what they wanted, even though it was obvious what they wanted. And
even if it weren’t, Jesus would have known what those needs were
However, by asking these questions, Jesus showed the men respect. He
showed that He was listening to them and by listening that He cared
about what they were struggling with. In how many cases do people,
perhaps more than anything else, simply want someone just to talk
to, someone who will listen to them. Sometimes just being able to
talk about one’s struggles can help a person feel better.
Consider for a moment how you would feel if you entered a doctor’s
office and the doctor took one glance at you, wrote out a
prescription, and sent you on your way. Surely you would doubt
whether this person really knew what you needed. You might say, “The
doctor didn’t ask me how I feel or listen to my heart or check my
blood pressure or . . .” One of the cardinal rules of medical
practice is “Diagnose before you treat.”
The same concept applies to medical missionary work, which is
focused on the well-being of people and meeting their wholistic
needs. Too many churches think they already know, or they guess at
what needs to be done to serve others in their community. When we
put forth the effort of talking to people about their needs or the
needs of the community, it lets them know we care, and it informs us
how we can serve in ways that will be appreciated. Also, we will
make new friends.
“ 'Remember that you can break down the severest opposition by
taking a personal interest in the people whom you meet. Christ took
a personal interest in men and women while He lived on this earth.
Wherever He went He was a medical missionary. We are to go about
doing good, even as He did. We are instructed to feed the hungry,
clothe the naked, and comfort the sorrowing.’ ” - Ellen G. White, Welfare
Ministry, p. 162.
Most of us have no problem expressing our opinions. How can we learn
to be better listeners?
Tuesday August 23
The Deeper Needs
Jesus, as the Lord, knew more about the people than they knew about
themselves. There are many accounts in the Gospels where Jesus showed
that He not only knew what people were thinking at the present (see Mark
2:8)-He knew their histories as well (John
As we saw yesterday, Jesus knew the needs of the people, and it was to
those needs that He ministered. In fact, He knew even needs that went
below the surface. This reality is seen in the story of the paralytic.
Though it was obvious, on the surface, that he needed physical healing,
there was something deeper there, which is why even before telling him
to take up his bed and walk, Jesus said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven
2:1-12. What was going on below the surface in regard to this man?
In what ways might this deeper need be a problem for all whom we seek to
Jesus knew the issue here was more than physical. “Yet it was
not physical restoration he desired so much as relief from the
burden of sin. If he could see Jesus, and receive the assurance
of forgiveness and peace with Heaven, he would be content to
live or die, according to God's will.” - Ellen G. White, The
Desire of Ages, p. 267.
Of course we are not going to be able to get below the surface
as Jesus did. Yet we can be sure that whomever we are
ministering to, they are sin-damaged creatures. That is,
whatever the other surface needs, they are also in need of
grace, of assurance, of the knowledge that there is a God who
loves them, who died for them, and who wants only the best for
Think about how much you crave the assurance of salvation and of
the knowledge that God loves you. How can you help others
experience that same assurance and love?
Wednesday August 24
Dorcas in Joppa
9:36-42. What did Dorcas do in Joppa when she
discovered the needs around her? In Acts
9:41 what does the phrase “the believers,
especially the widows” (NIV) imply?
Dorcas was a disciple of action. “In Joppa there was a disciple
named Tabitha” (Acts
9:36, NIV). Can it be said, “In [the name of your
city] there are disciples named [name of your congregation]” who
are “full of good works and charitable deeds” (Acts
The “believers” are Christian church members; “the widows” may
include church members as well as those who were not members.
Dorcas likely served both. Your “Joppa” should be
outside and inside your church. Consistent caring for those
inside your church is also a powerful evangelistic strategy (see Acts
2:42-47). People outside can then say, “See how those
Seventh-day Adventists love and care for one another!”
13:34-35 and John
15:12. What is the same message in all three texts, and why
is that so important for us as a church to follow? Why, though,
can it sometimes be so hard to follow?
When planning to serve people outside your church, you should
consider what style, or approach, you will use.
Amy Sherman describes three styles a
church can use in serving its community: (1) Settler style
focuses on meeting the needs of the community around your
church. The woman with the HIV/AIDS ministry chose her nearby
community as her “Joppa.” (2) The gardenerstyle
means developing ministry ties with neighborhoods outside your
church’s immediate area, as gardeners view their gardens as an
extension of their homes. Sometimes several churches partner to
operate a community service center outside of each of their
communities. In one city, several churches ran a health food
store-out of which a new church started. (3) The shepherd style
is serving one targeted population rather than a specific
geographic neighborhood.-Adapted from Ronald J. Sider et al., Churches
That Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News
and Good Works (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002), p. 146.
The Church at Work
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and
he will establish your plans”(Prov.
Once your church has a clear vision of how it can minister to the
community, it is important to develop a plan whereby all church
departments can work together in order to make this vision a
reality. Even though you may not consider yourself a “leader” in
your church, you can contribute. Also, it is good for all church
members to understand this process, for this is about your church’s
mission to your community.
Ideally, a church strategic plan should be based on input from at
least three sources: (1) input from biblical and Spirit of Prophecy
principles; (2) knowledge of community needs; and (3) input from the
congregation. Some churches have collected input from the
congregation by holding brainstorming sessions during which all
church members are invited to share their ideas and dreams for
outreach and for improving their church within.
14:25-35. What does this passage have to do with commitment and
the planning it takes to fulfill your church’s mission?
As you think about the process required to
meet your community’s needs effectively, you might think: this takes too
much commitment and time.We’d prefer to take shortcuts. The two parables
warn us against taking the responsibilities of mission and discipleship
lightly. They remind us that analysis and planning for our mission are
essential. It’s a matter of good stewardship. The flavor of the salt in Luke
14:34 represents devotion. Without this our service, our
discipleship, is useless and meaningless. We need fervent and faithful
devotion to our Lord, and if we have that, fervent and faithful devotion
to ministry will follow.
What are ways that you can do more to work with your church in
organizing and planning beforehand how you can reach out to your
14:31, 19:17, Acts
1:27-2:5; Ellen G. White, “Pioneering in Australia,” pp.
327-338, in Welfare Ministry.
Paul, like Jesus, was involved in meeting the expressed needs of people.
We can see this, for example, in the famous story of Paul at Mars Hill
in Athens. In Acts
17:23, Paul, provoked by the idolatry that he saw in the city,
engaged in lively discussions with the local intelligentsia and anyone
in the marketplace who would talk with him. He became aware of their
needs and issues. He discovered that they had an unknown-God-shaped hole
in their lives and that they needed to know the true God and to stop
worshiping useless idols. He then began to preach in the synagogue,
where both Jews and “Gentile worshipers” (Acts
17:17, NKJV) were.
In other words, he took advantage of the opportunity he had and reached
out with the gospel. Paul sought to meet them where they were, as we can
see by how he talked to the people when at the synagogue and in the
street. The masses believed in some kind of deity, because they had
built an altar to “the unknown God” (Acts
Working from that premise, Paul sought to point them to the God “ 'whom
you worship without knowing’ ” (Acts
He even later quoted one of their own poets, who happened to have
written something true: “ ' “We are also His offspring” ’ ” (Acts
Starting from where the people were, he wanted to lead them away from
their idols to the living God and Jesus, raised from the dead. In short,
assessing the needs of those whom he wanted to reach, Paul then tried to
help fulfill those needs.
“He who taught the people the way to
secure peace and happiness was just as thoughtful of their temporal
necessities as of their spiritual need.” - Ellen G. White, The
Desire of Ages, p. 365.
What important message is given to us here in regard to why we should
minister to the needs of others?
Why do we, when thinking about outreach, have to be careful not to
forget what our ultimate goal is? What is that ultimate goal? Give
reasons for your answer.
How can we learn to view some interruptions not as annoyances but as
sacred opportunities for ministry? How does Galatians
2:20 help us in this area?
”Remember Your Faith” : Part 2
Pierre refused to be swayed by his friends urging him to study at the
national university. He wanted to study at the Adventist university
instead, even if it meant losing a full scholarship. ”God will provide,”
he told them. When Esdras and Deo realized how determined Pierre was to
enroll in the Adventist university, they applied to study there as well.
They were, after all, brothers.
The boys were accepted at the Adventist university. They shared a small
room in a house near the university. They pooled their money, but often
didn’t have enough for proper food. Even so, sometimes they shared their
meager food with others who had even less.
Esdras and Deo noticed differences between their former teachers and the
staff and students at the Adventist university. The teachers at the
university were personally interested in the students’ needs and shared
their concerns. They counseled them and prayed with them. Prayer was not
just a formality; it was the lifeblood of the school.
Pierre invited Esdras and Deo to join him at worship services on Sabbath
and during the week. Larger worship services were held in an open
stadium on the campus. There was no church building in which to worship,
but they still went. Before long the boys began to understand why God
was so important in Pierre’s life.
During a Week of Prayer at the school, Esdras and Deo gave their lives
to God and were baptized. Pierre rejoices that the brothers once bound
by tragedy are now brothers bound by a faith in God that is stronger
Like Pierre and his friends and thousands of others who survived the
genocide in Rwanda, the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA)
has risen from the destruction as well. The government took over the
original university campus, which was located in a still unstable region
of Rwanda. They gave the church land on a hilltop in Kigali, the capital
city, and funds to help rebuild the campus. Today 2,200 students are
studying at the university. More than half of these students are not
The campus of AUCA continues to grow. In 2010, the first quarter
Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped to complete a church-multipurpose
building on the campus. This quarter we have the opportunity to provide
funding to build a dormitory for students attending the new AUCA medical
school, and an on-campus cafeteria. Thank you for your generous support
All Rights Reserved. No part of the Adult
Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified,
adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity
without prior written authorization from the General Conference of