In the church organization we have many acronyms and names for the hierarchal levels. We throw around words like NAD, GC, PSI, WWC and NPUC. We even have subdivisions of each acronym such as the PCOEAC, or Potomac Conference Office of Education Administrative Council. Then, to make the details even more thorough and organized, we add official titles to everyone, so we have an assistant to the assistant treasurer.
So what is in a name? What is ASI, Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries? It is a word, like many other words in the English language, that has multiple connotations. Where one person identifies ASI with an annual convention of business people who share how they witness to their employees and clients, another person sees an organization of Adventist people with fundraising and employment networking opportunities. What these two definitions illustrate is that ASI is a multi-faceted group of Adventist lay people.
The third edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of English Language sheds some light on the subject.
Ad • vent • ist n. A member of any of several Christian denominations that believe Jesus’s Second Coming and the end of the world are near.
Lay • man n. 1. A person who is not a cleric.
Serv • ice n. 4. a. Work done for others as an occupation or a business. 7. a. Acts of devotion to God; witness.
In • dus • try n. 1. Commercial production and sale of goods.
ASI has had several facelifts since its birth in 1947. Initially called the Association of Self-supporting Institutions, ASI formed the foundation for the supporting work in the Adventist Church. Each of the original 25 members were involved in medical missionary or education work of one sort or another. Over the following two decades, changes were made to the membership of the organization. Gradually, business owners were invited into membership, partly because of a directive by Ellen G. White found in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 469: “When men of business, farmers, mechanics, merchants, lawyers, etc., become members of the church, they become servants of God; and although their talents may be entirely different, their responsibility to advance the cause of God by personal effort, and with their means, is no less than that which rests upon the minister.”
In 1970, the name was changed to the Association of Privately Owned Seventh-day Adventist Services and Industries to reflect the new trend in ASI membership. Finding that name too unwieldy, the current name was settled on in 1979.
Today’s ASI members fulfill White’s directive in their workplaces and ministries. It matters little what profession, occupation or ministry in which they are involved—members actively pursue the ASI motto of Sharing Christ in the Marketplace. Doctors witness to their patients regarding the health of their body and soul. Lay evangelists minister to people in places the organized church is unable to reach. Car dealers make an emphatic statement by closing their businesses during the profitable Sabbath hours. Builders and architects carry literature on the job to share with clients, vendors and employees.
Every August, ASI members from North America and other divisions gather for an energy-charged convention that rejuvenates, inspires and transforms the members. They return to their homes and, in turn, strengthen their local congregations and communities.
The ASI organization is not content to let their members do all the work. Every year funds are raised to assist with programs working to bring others to the Lord. The Magabooks program, initially an ASI endeavor, has become a staple for literature evangelism work. The New Beginnings DVD series, produced by ASI in conjunction with It Is Written, is transforming the way evangelistic series are held. Using the DVD resource, lay people are boldly taking the stage to proclaim the soon coming of Jesus. "Sow 1 Billion," a plan to place one billion publications in homes around the world, is a joint initiative between ASI and the world church that has the potential to take the world by storm.
Within the Adventist family there are many who own businesses or are professionals in their respective fields or operate supporting ministries. ASI gives them an opportunity to see how others are witnessing and receive information on what resources are available. It also provides a platform for networking with other members.
For more information, write to ASI: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Md., 20904; call (301) 680-6450; or visit the ASI Web site at www.asiministries.org.
Jeff Rogers is the ASI communication director and editor of ASI Magazine. He writes from Silver Spring, Maryland.