"Bad will be the day for every man when . . . there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do because he is still, in spite of all, the child of God."
A group of enthusiastic Northwest retirees are grasping the full meaning of these words as they volunteer with Gospel Outreach (GO). Dick Madson, volunteer chief executive officer, claims, "My work with GO has added years to my life and life to my years."
GO has been a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since 1993. Its mission is to fund national evangelists in the 10/40 Window—an area that includes Africa, the Middle East, India, China, and the Philippines.
Frank Stanyer, a retired teacher, founded GO when he and his Sabbath School class began supporting a single evangelist in the Philippines. Today GO supports more than 1,400 workers in Asia and Africa, in cooperation with 70 local Seventh-day Adventist missions. Tens of thousands are led to the Lord each year through the efforts of these evangelists. In India alone, 37,000 people were baptized in 2003 as a result of the work of 400 GO evangelists. Final tallies in 2004 are expected to be even greater!
National workers are the secret of GO’s success in this cost-effective ministry. Last year, the cost per baptism in India was $6.80—less than the price of lunch in the U.S. Inspired by a never-ending flow of conversion stories, results-oriented GO donors enthusiastically provide funds to continue the work.
Dorothy Watts, Southern Asia Division (SUD) associate secretary, recently reported the following story from Cherlakothur, India. Upon arriving in Cherlakothur, GO evangelist Chinnaiah learned that a young child, Ramulamma, was on her death bed. Her body was swollen and she was struggling for breath. Ramulamma had been taken to the hospital in Kurnool, but doctors felt that nothing more could be done.
Pastor Chinnaiah knelt beside the child and prayed, "God, please give us a miracle so that people in this remote village will know of Your power and love. Many will believe if You raise up this little child."
Within moments of Chinnaiah’s prayer, the little girl asked for rice water and milk—her first liquid in four days. "It is a miracle!" they said. "Jesus has great power." Many of the villagers are now receiving Bible studies.
Like many GO 10/40 Window evangelists, Pastor Chinnaiah is a recent young convert with a Spirit-filled desire to lead others to a life-changing experience with Jesus.
After a few weeks of training, the evangelists are assigned a town or village where they begin to share the gospel, and soon after, a church is planted. Some GO workers have previous pastoral training from an Adventist school. Many were not hired by the mission for lack of funds. When GO steps in to meet that need, these well-trained young people often become very successful soul winners.
For example, a young couple, Zika and Suela, had been students at the Belgrade Adventist Seminary in Serbia. After completing their training they became GO evangelists among the Gypsies in Vranje. Because of the poor treatment they receive in much of southeastern European society, Gypsies are attracted to Christianity and its inclusive message of human dignity and value.
Adventist Gypsy congregations are now planted in four cities in Serbia, including Vranje and Nis. GO is raising funds for church buildings for these Gypsy congregations.
Another opportunity of special interest to GO evangelists is to work among previously unreachable segments of the Muslim population in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Witnessing in these areas is often done under dangerous circumstances, in the midst of ongoing persecution.
Dozens of GO workers are now deployed in 15 to 20 countries in this region; the work of the church is receiving a major boost through the efforts of these intrepid evangelists. In 2004, GO was offered satellite time in one populous country in the Middle East. Soundtracks in the national language are now being prepared for these Seventh-day Adventist programs; broadcasts will begin soon.
In cooperation with Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) and the Institute of World Mission at Andrews University, GO has now begun work in Turkey. The population of 70 million is 98 percent Muslim. In fact, the number of Turkish Adventists can be counted on one hand. Please pray for the GO workers who are beginning this new venture.
Recently the GO board stepped out in faith to cooperate with the North Pacific Union's India Harvest Initiative by funding as many as 150 GO evangelists to prepare for, and follow up the evangelistic campaigns which will take place during the first quarter of 2005. Follow-up includes a three-year commitment to provide GO evangelists for the new congregations and to provide leadership for the construction of church buildings.
Ron Watts, former worker in the NPUC, and current SUD president, says that never before has there been such openness to the gospel message in India. People are accepting Christ by the tens of thousands. In Andhra Pradesh, where the NPUC Harvest Initiative is taking place, they are expecting four million new members in the next five years if funding is secured for sufficient GO workers and church buildings.
Bob Rawson, GO director of the work in Andhra Pradesh, says, "The Lord has given the Adventist Church a very special opportunity in India at this time. Because of our worldwide organization, we can provide funding for pastors, evangelists, and church buildings that other church groups cannot match. The field is white for harvest!"
Dan Serns, NPUC ministerial and global mission director, states his conviction: "Every member in the NPUC can participate in making the India Harvest Initiative a success, wheather we give, go, pray, or preach. Together under the power of the Holy Spirit, we can see God's work move forward and be finished."
The American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, once said, "Be not simply good, be good for something."
Gospel Outreach volunteers and evangelists are excited and humbly grateful to be part of a program which is "good for something"— where results last throughout eternity.
To learn more about this ministry, visit the Web site at www.goaim.org or contact Gospel Outreach at (509) 525-2951, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at PO Box 8, College Place, WA 99324. We appreciate your prayers.