Go Big or Go Home!
Published on 09/22/2016 |
We think too small! Jesus commanded a dozen men to go into the then known world and draw all people to Him. That was a tall order for such a small number of dedicated followers. Now, He gives us the same command, asking us to impact the “whole world.” If this is Biblical truth for us today, then we must think too small. In order to spread the everlasting gospel into the entire world, we must individually and collectively “Go Big.” God is ready for us to imagine and attempt the miraculous in His power.
For several years, our small church in a tiny North Carolina town toyed with the idea of having a Sabbath Convocation. The goal was for Sabbath keepers (of multiple denominations) in our surrounding area to come together for a day of worship and Sabbath celebration.
The timing never seemed right for such a large endeavor. But the idea kept coming up in our Personal Ministries meetings until we realized God was impressing it on our hearts. Little did we know that our thinking was too small. God had already paved the way for an event far beyond our expectations.
During our meeting in June, our Personal Ministries committee voted to move forward with the Sabbath Convocation. We also decided to embrace the concept of, “Go Big or Go Home.” In other words, if we were going to do this, we would do it right. We wanted the event to reach as many people as possible and no far-fetched idea would be rejected.
Soon, we started selecting speakers. Pie in the sky… In an ideal world, who would we want to see present the Sabbath truth? Once our list was completed in order of preference, we knelt and prayed over each name. We knew it would be a miracle if even one would agree to come.
Phone calls were made and emails sent. We were shocked that four of our top five choices said “yes.” Our speakers for the day included Ted Wilson, Michael Hasel, Ed Reid, and Ken Cox. This surprise was the beginning of a series of miracles that our Heavenly Father would perform with precision and impeccable timing.
The date for the meeting, now named Sabbath Celebration, was determined by the availability of our keynote speaker, Elder Ted Wilson. He was only able to speak on August 12, less than eight weeks away. The pressure was on but our faith was growing.
“Go Big or Go Home” suddenly got bigger. We needed a large venue for the meetings because our tiny church was far too small. So we rented a rustic music auditorium that could seat two thousand people that hadn’t been used in over two years except for storage. We tackled the task of clearing it out, cleaning, and setting up.
But two thousand wasn’t enough. Surely the world needed to hear this message. We felt impressed to share this greatly anticipated Sabbath message with as many people as possible. Hoping to broadcast the entire event worldwide, we started looking for help.
We first contacted 3ABN and the Hope Channel to see if they could broadcast the event live. Both needed more advance notice. Our next option was to broadcast it live via the internet, but (believe it or not) Andrews, North Carolina had no high speed internet at that time. It was late July and God had already anticipated our need. When we approached the internet provider, they told us they were launching high-speed service in early August and that they would love to help us, free of charge. They set up all their equipment and allowed us to access all, and I mean 100%, of the bandwidth they had, because they had just a few subscribers at that time. Perfect timing!
We were able to get Network 7 from Chattanooga (an Adventist media ministry), to film the event live. They connected to our computers for the internet broadcast. We also contacted David Gates who has connections with South American and European media broadcasters and interpreters. The plan was to do something that had never been done before. We wanted to broadcast live, without interruption, a six-hour event via the internet, translating live into multiple languages in multiple countries worldwide. Did I mention we didn’t have high speed internet when we voted to “Go Big”?
Time and time again, God paved the way, working out the details long before we even took the first steps. Minutes before broadcast, our computers went down. Our prayer team prayed harder. Satan did all he could to stop the everlasting gospel from being sent to people eager to hear it. But his attacks were useless. We started on time, just as the computers came to life. To our relief, they worked for the duration of the program.
The Lord in His power allowed the Sabbath message to be broadcast in 42 different countries, translated live in 17 different languages over the internet, TV, and radio. One of our Adventist broadcasting networks picked up the feed and reported two million viewers during Elder Wilson’s eleven o’clock sermon.
At home, over 1,800 people attended the Sabbath Celebration. This number exceeds the population of the town itself. It was like camp meeting with multiple denominations, including those of the Jewish faith. All were eager to celebrate the Sabbath with fellow Sabbath keepers.
Throughout the month of September, the series was rebroadcast many times in multiple locations with an estimated 10 million viewers. Only the Lord knows how many people have heard the Sabbath message since that day.
This experience taught us several valuable lessons. First, nothing is too big for God. As we dreamed up ideas that we thought were too miraculous to happen, our Heavenly Father had already worked out the details on a much grander scale. We also learned the value of teamwork as four small Seventh-day Adventist churches joined forces to man the event. Previous friendships that we made helped solidify the cohesive network of workers.
We also learned the Sabbath is a unifying force with like-minded believers. A Jewish friend, after attending the Sabbath Celebration, mentioned to me that he needed to read the New Testament. Other ‘Sabbatarians’ have been eager to attend additional programs at our church.
It was an incredible eight weeks. We lost count of the miracles and the number of people impacted. We got emails from people all over the world, many staying up all night with friends, family, and neighbors to watch. God chose a handful of lay people in a 70-member church in the mountains of North Carolina and inspired us to “Go Big.”
We didn’t work the miracles, God did! We were just willing to be used by Him. My prayer is that God will continue to inspire all of us to “Go Big or Go Home.” Just imagine what would happen if we put aside our differences and started to work together. Jesus could do big things through us. The famous missionary William Carey once said: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
I believe we are in the last days of earth’s history. Isn’t it time we all “Go Big” so we can all go home?
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