Port Orchard Connects With Community

June 30, 2014 | Heidi Baumgartner

Luka Pasi is one of the people in his church most faithful in sharing his faith with his community — and he is blind.

When his church — Port Orchard Church  — began preparing for a 90-day evangelism blitz this spring, Pasi showed up for every training and outreach activity. Even on days off, Pasi showed up at church to pick up more resources and supplies so he could invite his 16 neighbors and people at his doctor’s office to the meetings.

“I can easily use my sight as an excuse for not sharing my faith,” Pasi says. “I think there is no excuse for not going out to witness about Jesus. I had faith that God was going to go with me and help me. If I can do it, I know you can do it better than me.”

In a new venture to improve a culture of evangelism at churches in western Washington, Tyler Long, Washington Conference evangelism coach, provides an outreach training six weeks before a series of meetings, hosts Bible studies and coaches the church in discipleship after the evangelism meeting concludes.

Through the twice-a-week class, about a dozen Port Orchard members learned about friendship evangelism, how to witness in a nonthreatening way, how to give Bible studies, how to reach out to inactive members and other topics.

Long and his team of volunteers identified all the guests of the church, whether previous seminar attendees, inactive members or spouses of members. They also sent 25,000 invitations for Bible studies and received 30 responses back. These activities helped them build a database of more than 200 contacts with connections to Port Orchard Church.

The Port Orchard team visited with each person. “It took five weeks to get us acquainted with visitation methods,” says Dorothy Epperly, Port Orchard personal ministries leader. “We went door to door with seminar invitations, even in pouring rain, praying and encouraging them as we went.”

When the Bible prophecy meeting began with Dan Bentzinger, the church welcomed 50 guests, twice what they had experienced previously when they direct mailed invitations to the community.

“I looked around the church and saw each team member sitting with a guest they had personally invited,” Long says. “Sixty-five percent of our guests already had a connection with the Adventist Church.”

One gentleman had been out of the church for 55 years. His 93-year-old mother rejoiced that her prayers had been answered. Another lady only agreed to talk with the guests at her door after she quizzed them about the correct Sabbath day — something she had just read about in her Bible.

In all, 16 people were either baptized, joined the church by profession of faith or transferred into the church after having their membership dormant for many years.

“[The] Port Orchard Church family is flying high right now,” says Tobin Dodge, pastor. “Everyone who was baptized had a connection in the church: a friend, a neighbor or a relative. This baptism was the largest baptism anyone had ever witnessed in our church.”

The Reach Port Orchard evangelism blitz is transforming how the church views evangelism as a lifestyle and not a program. “Each year the church is becoming warmer to the idea of evangelism being everything we do,” says Dodge. “We are learning to make ourselves available to God and that He will bring people to us.”

Watch Luka's story: "Blind Faith."