This is a special edition of my Q&A column, featuring some of the wonderful things God is doing in Eastern Europe and beyond through Total Member Involvement.
May the Lord bless each one of you as you find ways to reach others for Him — wherever you are!
Q: What countries in Eastern Europe are hosting these special TMI events, and who participated in them?
A: God has so richly blessed everyone participating in this unprecedented lay-driven evangelistic initiative in Europe! Meetings have been, are being, or will be held in several Eastern European countries, including Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. In Ukraine, there will be a total of 1,000 TMI evangelism meetings from the beginning of the year through September. Even in the difficult eastern part of Ukraine, where conflict is ever-present, there are increases in baptisms and many people coming to the evangelistic meetings.
Very positive reports have come from Bulgaria and Moldova, and the main efforts in Russia are just beginning this month.
Many, many local lay members are very involved. In addition to local members, many international participants came from Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, and from across the United States to participate in the events held during February. There was a large group of young adults from the Arkansas/Louisiana Conference as well as from Australia. Some families came as a team. The youngest presenter was 15 years old. In addition, 35 employees from the General Conference participated in the events, some presenting an evangelistic series for the first time.
Lori Yingling, director of the General Conference’s HR department, and her associate Lori Williams, who both presented for the first time, concluded, “If you are willing to be used, God will bless in ways you never dreamed of!”
The General Conference’s Communication team was also involved, with Sam Neves heading up the “Sabbath Sofa” and Emily Mastrapa and Jennifer Stymiest traveling to Armenia and Georgia to get stories and videos from the TMI meetings happening there. Williams Costa Jr., communication director, presented meetings in Romania. And even though his father passed away in Brazil during this time, Williams returned to Romania after his father’s funeral to finish his TMI meetings.
Q: We understand that you and your wife, Nancy, were in Romania. Tell us about what took place there.
A: In Romania, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was miraculous. God brought so many people to the meetings across the country. People are saying they haven’t seen anything like this since the 1990s, shortly after the fall of communism. This is an indication that people are open to the Advent message and that Jesus is coming soon!
The Romanian Union and its conferences planned for at least 2,017 evangelistic sites, with about half of them presented by lay people. The meetings were held in churches, houses, storefronts, or wherever they could gather people.
It was a great privilege for me to be assigned to a small church in Floresti, which is about a 30-minute drive from Bucharest. We had strong nightly attendance (meetings were held six nights a week for two weeks and three weekends), as high as 200 people with 40-60 people being visitors. The church members gave incredible support to the meetings. The TMI evangelistic activities galvanized the church into a united front like nothing else can. It is the power of the Holy Spirit, earnest prayer, and presenting of the Word of God!
You might enjoy seeing some pictures of our small church site and various activities including the last Sabbath and baptism. These pictures were put together by the Romanian Union.
Q: Are there any personal stories you can share about changed lives from this event?
A: We had so many wonderful people give their hearts to the Lord and ask for baptism. One large family came forward on the last Sabbath after witnessing the baptism of six dear people. The last Sabbath was a marvelous experience as many people came forward to signify their wish to join the baptism study class and be baptized on Sabbath, June 3, when churches across the country of Romania will be holding a very large baptism.
However, there was one particular setting that was so precious. During the last week of meetings there was one night when I gave a call for people to come forward to commit themselves to Christ and baptism, and no one came. Several people had already come forward during earlier evenings, but no one came this particular night.
I was about to have prayer when a young adult gentleman sitting on the front row came forward. He had been a member years ago but had been out of the church for many years. I believe this was his first night at the TMI evangelistic meetings. Obviously, the Holy Spirit had strongly convicted him and he came forward. I was told that when the head elder saw him go forward the head elder just started weeping for joy.
It is never too late to come to the Lord and never too late to keep praying for our loved ones. What an enormous privilege to see how the Holy Spirit works on people when the Word of God is presented.
Q: What has impressed you most about this special TMI outreach?
A: There are many things that have impressed me about this wonderful event. However, what has impressed me the most is how our lay people have rallied to the work of God in such a powerful way, being led by the Holy Spirit. Many TMI activities took place before and during the meetings to prepare people in Romania and elsewhere for the public evangelistic meetings. GLOW tracts were distributed, literature evangelists visited homes, ADRA and community services were active. Many TMI activities are to be so integrated into the whole process of a year-round approach to evangelism including Bible studies, visitation, literature distribution, media and music outreach, youth/children initiatives, involvement of educational institutions, and more — everybody doing something for Jesus!
And the Holy Spirit brought so many people to meetings! This is far more than just good administrative organization. This was the work of heaven itself. I believe the Lord is preparing His remnant church worldwide for the falling of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit when the work will go forward like wildfire. What an incredible privilege it is to be part of Total Member Involvement! People are returning home with renewed spiritual energy and the power of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing like preaching and sharing God’s precious Word.
All praise be to God!