Published on 07/01/2023 |
The door opens slightly. A young woman is standing inside.
““Hello, my name is Cristian and this is my friend ____. We are from the Loma Linda community and we’ve been visiting you and your neighbors recently to connect with people in the area, provide hope, and encouragement. In fact, we have been praying for this specific community. In this day and age, we believe that everyone has become so disconnected, and people can be going through difficult times and others not know it. We are realizing that we don’t know unless we ask. How are you doing? Is there anything that you need?”
Using this simple approach, a team of Loma Linda volunteers has been connecting, praying and sharing the good news of Christ’s soon return since 2014. This outreach, known as “At the Door,” has developed a unique, relational approach to door-to-door ministry that is more about personal connection than simply passing out literature or finding Bible study interests.
Since the ministry began under the leadership of Andrew Chung, MD, the entire city of San Bernardino has been reached, and in 2019, the team started working west from South Waterman Avenue towards Colton.
Cristian Villegas, MD, and his wife Shelina have been leading At-the-Door since 2017. Dr. Villegas is a resident physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Loma Linda University Health and Shelina is a photographer.
“Our goal,” Villegas states, “is to reach people by using Christ’s method alone. We seek to connect with them on a personal level through prayer, conversation and assessment of their emotional and spiritual needs. We have modified our approach to take more time asking questions and listening. We tailor what we offer according to the person’s needs or interests.”
At-the-Door volunteers meet on Sabbath afternoons to assemble literature packages and have training. On average, there may be four to six volunteers, but sometimes there are as many as 15-20. They share what they have learned and practice what to say. The formula includes three things.
1) Prayer. Some volunteers stay behind to pray, and those who are going out pray together before and after each home visit.
2) Connect. Volunteers are there to listen and show they care.
3) Invitation. Depending upon the person’s interest, they may be invited to pray or to receive some literature or to attend a Bible study.
Afterwards, the volunteers reconvene to share their testimonies and experiences.
Villegas states, “About a year ago we met a man named Joel at the door who shared with us about his struggles. We had prayed with him and encouraged him. We exchanged contact information since he had questions. He wanted to know how to be saved, and he joined us for a Bible study the very next day. One year later, almost the very same day, he joined us in going door to door! He told everyone, ‘Jesus loves you. He changed my life. He can change yours.’
“My experience going door to door has really helped me in making spiritual connections with my patients,” Villegas says. “I now feel much more comfortable talking to my patients about spiritual things and offering prayer.”
Anyone is welcome to join the group on their outreach project. The only qualifications are that you can pray and speak, Villegas says.
At-the-Door partners with Advent Hope and with the Mentone Seventh-day Adventist Church, which help supply literature for their ministry, and utilizes the Glide app to track their progress and keep record of interests.
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