ASI members and curious spectators—as many as 3,300 of them—gathered at the Sacramento Convention Center, August 3 to 6, for the organization’s annual international convention, themed “Christ’s Power … Our Hands.”
Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries, known by most as ASI, is an organization growing in popularity among Adventist business people and individuals alike. “The average church member usually discovers that they, too, can become actively involved in witnessing once they hear the testimonies of others,” says Sharon Robberson, convention coordinator. “Hearing all the diverse ways God is working through ordinary business people—well-diggers, artists, bankers, homemakers, educators, health professionals, car dealers, construction builders, media people—is truly inspirational.”
ASI has approximately 1,000 members, but many Adventists are not familiar with the nearly 60-year-old organization. ASI’s mission is to inspire and train professionals and private sector business people to integrate their vocations with the gospel commission and ministry. Thus, its motto: “Sharing Christ in the Marketplace.”
“I’d like to join ASI because two of the speakers explained our responsibilities,” said Charles Downing of Portland, Oregon. “I contact many new customers. I have opportunities to witness beyond just being friendly. It’s nice to network to find how I can share Christ’s message with unbelievers. This convention is first-class, very professional.”
ASI is an eye-opener to many. People attend the convention, listen to the testimonies, visit exhibits (295 of them this year), and they think, “I bet I could do that, too!” They go home and give it a try. The Member in Action segments where stories are shared are one of the most popular parts of the convention programming.
Five years ago, Harold and Helen Clark of Tempe, Arizona., were church planting, and their efforts have resulted in a thriving group of 80. This year, the Clarks came to ASI for renewal, inspiration and ideas for future projects. “It’s neat to see God’s work getting done,” said Harold.
“I came to ASI to see what new products are out, to fellowship and to meet people,” said Serita Katz, a Sacramento resident. Katz is preparing to open a child-care center, so she and husband Andre strolled the exhibit hall, looking for children’s materials. “This is my chance to influence children positively, and I’d love to join ASI after I start the business.”
“Seeing what progress has been made through the year and hearing about all the new members and what they’re doing is fantastic,” says exhibitor Susan Kochenower of Gaffney, South Carolina. “We came with ShareHim, to recruit people for evangelism and to encourage people to get involved.”
Young people also embrace the vision of integrating ministry and daily life. Convention programming includes sessions for children ages birth to 18. In addition, the ASI youth evangelism program, “Youth for Jesus,” mobilizes high school and college-aged students during the month before the convention. There were 40 youth this year who went door-to-door, giving Bible studies and inviting people to evening evangelistic meetings. The program culminated just prior to the convention, and attendees heard stories from the youth on Friday night. This year there were 30 baptisms with more than 50 continuing to study.
“The witnessing young people inspire me a lot with what they’re doing,” said Paul Olm of Sacramento. “When I was growing up [in Brazil], children were seen and not heard. Things have changed!”
ASI also supports ministry projects of all kinds, all over the world. The Sabbath morning project offering was collected to help finance specific projects during the next year. Totaling more than $2.3 million, it will be divided among the 40 diverse projects: Calexico Mission School on the border of Mexico will receive $25,000 to fund new classrooms and a new kitchen; the grant of $10,000 to the Central Nyanza field in Africa will provide portable fuel generators, public address systems and projectors for remote areas; Gospel Outreach will sustain 10 evangelists for 3 years in the Sunderban Islands off the coast of India with a grant of $23,000. And the list goes on.
The overflow offering will fully fund It Is Written and Maranatha Volunteers International’s joint project, Impact India 2006, at more than $700,000.
“Stories about witnessing are the best part of ASI,” says Ivan Kacarevic of Sacramento. “And during the church service, all the money that was raised—amazing!”
Ivan and Radmilla, his wife, were ASI first-timers. “I have cried many times from happiness,” Radmilla says.
“If you’re serious about your relationship with Christ and want to give life to the gospel commission, then connect with others that are living that passion, sharing Christ in their marketplaces,” suggested Debbie Young, ASI president. “Seeing the excitement people have about sharing Christ with others is my favorite part of the annual convention.”
Read about ASI-funded projects and get information on membership, chapter meetings and future conventions by visiting www.asiministries.org.