Vancouver Churches Experience Miracle in County Fair Preparations

Miracles happen in three days. Jonah was delivered to his mission field after a three-day journey in a large fish (Jonah 1:17). Jesus rose after three days (Mark 8:31). And in three days, the Vancouver-area churches created a fair booth.

Historically, the booth at the Clark County Fair has been a joint outreach project of the Vancouver, Wash., churches. An organizer is selected, and the churches provide volunteers and funds. This year seemed to be following tradition until the original organizer contracted viral encephalitis right before the fair began and was unable to fulfill his duties.

Without a leader, the fair booth project floundered. Congregations were torn between wanting to make the most of the outreach opportunity and seemingly not having enough time to pull together a presentation that would be done “decently and in order.” So, with just three days until the fair would open, it seemed there would be no Adventist booth.

Then Ridge Dell Church members stepped forward to assume leadership.

“At first I was overwhelmed,” admitted Bernhard Ruppel, Ridge Dell fair booth coordinator. “But then my wife [Emily] said, ‘This is not our work. This is the Lord’s work. Let Him handle it.'” And with that, they went forward.

In just three days, the Ridge Dell team had pulled together a theme, decorations, displays and volunteers of all ages. When the fair opened on Friday morning, they were ready.

This year’s fair booth reflected a strong health emphasis and promoted the CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Program) seminars in local churches. The booth also featured interactive displays, literature and free samples of strawberry smoothies. “Every time a person received a smoothie, a contact was made. Once you get them to stop, you have opportunity to share,” said Ruppel. “We want them to know that Seventh-day Adventists care about their hearts, both physically and spiritually.”

“It was very attractively designed. Even from a distance it caught your eye,” said Marilyn Renk, Oregon Conference health ministries, community services and disaster response director. “As I observed, I could see people stopping and not just looking but getting involved and asking questions. It was very interactive."

“People were very interested in the hands-on things like the five-pound glob of fat and seeing the plugged artery,” Ruppel explained. “One lady came over and excitedly said, ‘You have the best booth in the whole place!’ It was really neat. We made so many contacts.”

October 01, 2004 / Oregon Conference