Rebecca had not been in an Adventist church for 20 years. Feeling the need to reconnect with the Lord and the church, she began attending the Everett (Washington) Forest Park Church and had been there only a few months when she saw the bulletin insert for an eight-week Bible study training class called Impact Your World. She thought it was about how to better understand the Bible, so she came to the class.
Impact Your World is designed to train church members to reach out to people and begin to study the Bible with them. It is conducted by Gayle Lasher, Washington Conference Bible worker and trainer. As part of the class, Gayle and Rebecca went to visit some people who had sent in Bible study requests.
After the first unsuccessful attempt to find someone at home, Rebecca continued trying and after seven attempts she finally found a woman at home. She thought she would just leave a lesson there but Adria invited her in, moved the cats off the sofa and asked if they could start the Bible study right away. When they were finished Adria asked what church she attended. Rebecca told her the Seventh-day Adventist church, to which she replied, "I thought so. I'm from Walla Walla, and I grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist home until I was 15 years old."
"It was exciting to watch a former Adventist give Bible studies to a former Adventist and watch them be baptized together in November 2006," Gayle said.
Impact Your World rallies began in January 2007, and eight weekend rallies were held throughout the Washington Conference during the first quarter. As a result there are more than 450 lay people who are actively involved in Bible work or who are receiving training to give Bible studies. In addition, 40 church leaders were trained to conduct Bible study training in their own churches, which prepared approximately 350 more people to give Bible studies. This training took place in 24 churches and one company. "The revival brought about by the Holy Spirit in these congregations is thrilling to see, and I am humbled to be a part of it," said Gayle.
In Auburn, Washington, more than 125 lay people participated in the training to give Bible studies. The first two class periods were spent on developing a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus. Then the next six classes gave tips on how to approach someone for Christ and give Bible studies.
During the third class, a man said he had been impressed to approach a person he has known for a year and ask him if he would be interested in Bible study. His response was, "I can't believe you finally asked me. I have been trying to figure out what I'm doing sitting in a Sunday-keeping church when I have come to believe in the Seventh-day Sabbath through my study of the Bible, and there you are going to church on the Sabbath and not helping me to understand this. Of course, I would appreciate studying with you."
One of the keys to successful Bible study with people is the desire and ability to form a relationship with them. This relationship develops trust, enabling the Bible instructor to lead the person into a relationship with Jesus.
Many people who come to the Adventist Church come to find Christ and it is through Bible study that they come to have a relationship with him. The members of the Kent Church are seeing the obligation and responsibility to reach out to those who are searching. They ask each visitor who attends if they would be interested in studying the Bible and as a result they had 14 new Bible studies in the first six weeks of 2007.
During the classes, Gayle tells participants, "You have many acquaintances who would be willing to do a Bible study with you if you just ask. Tell your friends you are taking a class on how to give Bible studies and need to practice on someone before actually going out," Gayle says.
Using this principle, following a Friday night presentation of the Impact Your World Rally, a woman went home to her granddaughter and her boyfriend. She told them she was interested in getting back into giving Bible studies, was quite rusty and needed someone to practice on. Would either of them be interested? The boyfriend quickly said, "I would do that." "God is working in both of their lives," Gayle says.
Gayle has also been working with the students at Auburn Adventist Academy. They have made it clear to her that they are changing the campus for Jesus. They are discovering more and more ways to reach their peers for Christ. They come together for times of worship. They pray in the hallways of the dorms and classrooms. They go out into the community to pray for people and leave prayer cards for them to send in. They want to make a difference not only on campus but in the community.
Gayle is passionate about reaching people for the Lord. She says, "God is using anyone who is willing to be a witness to Him. He is raising up a small army to reach our world for Him. Jesus is coming soon, and we have a world to tell. Praise the Lord for those who are answering His call to stand up for Jesus and share Him with those we know. Truly the momentum God is beginning here in the Washington Conference can only go forward until Jesus comes."