Love, Passion = 35 Years of Regional Convocation
The history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is written with the lives of men and women filled with a love for God, courage to stand for right, and a compelling desire to see the Gospel go to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," (Rev. 14:6). They possessed limited resources and, at times, had no support from the establishment. Yet, these pioneers forged ahead to fulfill a mission placed upon their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
A few years ago, I stood by the grave of Abraham La Rue in a little cemetery in Hong Kong. I wondered how this first missionary to Hong Kong felt when the church refused to send him to China because they felt he was not qualified. Undaunted, he raised his own money, bought a one-way ticket and boarded a ship in San Francisco heading to Hong Kong as a self-supporting missionary for Jesus.
H.M.S. Richards Sr. had the same pioneer spirit when he proposed using radio to spread the gospel, only to be told by church leaders it was a bad idea. Of course, years later, the success of The Voice of Prophecy was so overwhelming, even the doubters claimed they supported it from the beginning.
This year we are celebrating 35 years of the Regional Convocation. This milestone was made possible by a compelling drive of four men and two women who called themselves the Concerned Committee. Just what were they concerned about? They wanted to reach African-American communities in the Northwest with the Third Angel's Message. And, in spite of determined opposition, they believed an African-American leader in the North Pacific Union Conference was crucial to the success of this cause.
Through much prayer, fasting and letter writing to the General Conference, the North American Division, and the North Pacific Union Conference, they were able to persuade church leadership of the need for this appointment.
In 1977, an NPUC office for African leadership was established to serve the Northwest. One of the duties of the newly appointed regional affairs director was to create a venue to bring African-American churches together. Because of this, other ethnic leaders were brought on board in later years to support the rapidly growing multicultural work.
As the familiar song goes, "It only takes a spark to get a fire going ..." That initial spark from the Holy Spirit also birthed our annual Regional Convocation. Each year, during the second week in May, people from all over the Northwest and western Canada gather at Camp Berachah near Auburn, Washington, for spiritual fellowship and as a venue for black churches to come together. It's significant to note that Berachah means "Valley of Blessings."
I salute the Concerned Committee whose vision and dedication inspires us still. Pioneers like the committee, La Rue and Richards, are following Christ's calling in countries around the world today.
Whatever burdens the Lord places on your heart for reaching men and women with the everlasting gospel, be strong and follow through with your convictions.