Christian Confounded: Why We Need to Understand the Bible

by Callie Williams, CAMPUS Missionary ’12

I grew up a Seventh-Day Adventist. I knew there were people who questioned God’s existence, but I didn’t know them personally. I knew there was the theory of evolution, but I didn’t know people believed it. Just goes to show I learned (am learning) a lot more than I expected here at MTP.

Does God exist?

This was the question of the night at a debate hosted by the Secular Student Alliance a few weeks ago. A fellow missionary had found a flier and we’d agreed to go together, neither of us having ever attended a debate like this before.

The ballroom was packed by the time we arrived, barely sitting down before the President of the SSA began his speech. He welcomed us all, whether we were Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist. He concluded his speech by saying he strived for excellence in every way, because as an Atheist he believed this was all he got.

The two were introduced, an Atheist who was a very well-known blogger, and a minister for one of the most well-known Christian groups on campus. They sincerely shook hands and began.

Many words summarized, the Atheist won. By a lot. Not because his logic was flawless, or he had an overabundance of sources; rather, his logic was better, and he had more sources. That is, the Christian just wasn’t prepared at all. Now, I’m not here to blast the brethren, but this did make me very aware of several things.

1. “Just believe!” is not logical, nor is it Biblical. God never asks us to ‘just believe’ without supplying anything to rest our belief on. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Faith is based on evidence. “Come let us reason together” is as inspired as the rest of the Bible is: God asks us to think (Is. 1:18).

2. Christians need to act like Christ. After the debate, I was exchanging emails with the Atheist. He replied to my first email saying it was good to hear something nice from the “other side”. I apologized for we Christians who have a hard time acting like Christ (which I need His grace daily for). He replied saying “I’m not sorry 🙂 it gives me good fodder for blog posts”. Ah, yes. Thus, just because we’re right, doesn’t mean we have to have an air of arrogance. Christ Jesus is our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30,31), so who are we to boast? Every day I am only further convinced that “the strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.”

3. We must be loving AND intelligent Christians. Though some people need only hear the words “Jesus loves you”, others will need to know how you know that. As stated above, thinking is necessary for a true Christian. Though the things of God transcend our understanding on many points, He has condescended Himself to make much more than enough known to us already. His grace covers our ignorance, but it does not cover our willful ignorance.

4. People of other faiths are human, too. Maybe it’s just because I grew up in a solely Seventh-Day-Adventist community (which I’m grateful for), but it seemed like “everybody else” was not to be associated with. However, though we don’t see eye to eye on key things in our lives, it doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to talk to them. Be in the world and not of it, yea? Let your light so shine before men? We are the salt of the earth? I like being salt. I get to meet some pretty differently flavored people. (Hahah…hah…ahhh.)

5. God is good. Yes, though the Atheist won the debate, his theology and philosophy did not win my heart (nor my mind). Though I was disheartened by the many questions that were publicly left unanswered, it gave me a deeper desire and grander motive to be a loving and intelligent Christian. The Lord reminded me of how far He has brought me: intellectually, experientially, & wisdomly (which is now a word), but also how far He plans on taking me. Taking all of us.

 

I’m not really in the mood for another debate any time soon (unless I convince a certain Program Director to do one…), but it was a blessing having my eyes opened a little wider. The God we serve is ever teaching–I pray He would keep us all humbly teachable.

Education

What a blessed week this was. We had class with Israel Ramos about true education. The book Education by E. G. White was our textbook and it was a blessing to refer to it once again. I always love it when Jesus is set forth as the example. He is all things to all men. Not only was He a profound speaker and teacher, but He also lived what He taught. He is the perfect example of what we can be when we learn of God. Speaking of learning, I found the following statement about His education deeply profound.

“The schools of His time, with their magnifying of things small and their belittling of things great, He did not seek. His education was gained directly from the Heaven-appointed sources; from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures and of nature, and from the experiences of life- God’s lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart.” – Education pg. 77

Education is not just the development of the intellect to the negligence of the other things that make up the individual. “It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.” (pg. 13) Anything short of this is not worthy of the name. We were given the power to think and to act. God would have us properly develop every ability to glorify Him and serve others because education is to be an aid in redemption which recreates in man the image of God.  

 

A Day Off

Praise the Lord for merciful directors. We were given a day off from class to recuperate from our mission trip to Florida. It’s nice to be able to rest, relax and get other things done. 

What does it mean to rest? Honestly, many, if not all the missionaries didn’t know what it meant to rest until the concept was introduced to us by SB. For the ladies, many of us tend to be Marthas, except the one who always seems to be in “paradise”. (inside joke)

Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29

The first “rest” is a verb that means to to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength. Jesus permits us to rest from our work in order that we may regain our strength and be ready to take on our next duty. If one does not rest, he will break down. The second “rest” interestingly enough, is a noun which means recreation. Resting enables us to be renewed. Hopefully, we will have rested enough to be able to jump back into classes tomorrow. 

Mission Trip 2011

2-29-12

We have an extra day this year. And how do we spend it? Doing a veggie taste fest of course! But that’s not until this evening, so what do we do until then? A group of the students and missionaries decided to tour part of the campus.  We took pictures with students that we would meet at various places and invited them out to the Veggie Taste Fest.

The Veggie Taste fest was a success with about 75 people showing up. The room was packed! YuRim kept the audience spellbound with an intensely interesting presentation about how to live healthier and longer. After the presentation, the visitors enjoyed all kinds of delicious vegetarian foods as well as relaxing massages. Some of the visitors interacted with the students and expressed interest in becoming vegetarian or possibly even vegan. Overall it was a wonderful experience for everyone. We were all blessed.

2-28-12

It’s the middle of the week and all the nightly meetings are starting to take it’s toll on us. It seems like people sleep any chance they get. Hopefully, we’ll have enough energy to finish strong. Today is the second day of our health expo. Thankfully we have more hands today which enabled us to get a lot more accomplished. Many more people came by our booth today and seemed to be interested in what we were doing. We gave it all we got knowing that it was our last day to advertise.

 

For outreach today, we were challenged to be bold and give someone a Bible study on the spot. I was partnered with Esther this time and we were both exhausted. The funny thing is that prior to our group meeting, we had fallen asleep on the chairs in the main room. We got together and prayed trusting God that He would help us find someone to give a Bible study. Not even a minute after we said “amen”, a guy named Adrian walked by. I had met him briefly before and as we talked, I found out that he had been baptized only 2 years before, but now he was the director of the Pathfinder club at his church! Towards the end of our conversation, he asked us for tips on Bible, so we gave Him a Bible study on how to study the Bible. Near the end of the study, a guy named Kevin came by and asked us what we were doing. The dialogue went something like this.

Kevin: What are you guys up to?

Me: Studying the Bible. Do you know Adrian?

Kevin: No, I just saw the Word and so I came over. What are you studying?

Esther: We’re studying the 5 C’s on how to study the Bible.

Kevin: Can you give me a recap?

So we ended up sharing with him as well. At the end, he asked us to email him what we just went over. We then asked him if he was affiliated with any of the Christian groups on campus. He told us that he wasn’t, so he and Adrian connected. Hopefully, he’ll start going to the group meetings. It’s awesome how God works things out!

2-27-12

Today is our first day of out health expo. We advertised the Veggie Taste Fest that’s scheduled for Wednesday, as well as gave free massages. One neat experience we had was with a guy named Daniel.  He stopped by our booth for a massage. He told us that he had gone to the seminar that Clifford Goldstein had presented a couple weeks before which was about why he believed in God.  Daniel told us that he was interested in studying Bible Prophecy, especially Daniel 2. He had gotten an email from the student organization that we were working with and wanted to check it out.

After lunch, we went back on campus for more advertising, only this time, we also prayed with students on campus. I partnered with Shelton for this outreach.  On one occasion, we met a girl named Kim. She caught my attention as she walked by, and I asked her if she wanted us to pray for her. She gracious accepted our offer and told us that she had been going though depression lately but that things were slowly getting better. We praise God that we had the privilege of ministering to her spiritual needs.

2-26-12

It is cold and rainy this morning. I thought Florida was supposed to be warm!!! Guess we brought back some of the Michigan cold…We’re hoping that it will warm up a bit when it’s time for the health expos.

A few hours later…

For outreach today, we went to the apartment complexes and passed out the veggie taste fest flyers as well as for donations of non-perishable vegetarian items. Although it was a bit rainy, and many people weren’t home, we had some really neat experiences.

Wyson and Marina met an Italian man who owed an authentic Italian Restaurant that had Vegetarian food. He offered to send us some for our Veggie Taste Fest. When we got back, everyone was eager to share their experiences. We have high hopes for this week and will do all we can, with God’s help, to make this event happen.

 

2-25-12

It’s a beautiful Sabbath day here in Gainesville. We had the opportunity to spend some time with the church family here. We were able to meet a good number of students from the University of Florida. Dr. Pandit spoke for the divine service about Creation and Evolution. He shared with us that the things that we see and observed had to come from a source that was greater than the effect. It was very thought provoking. After the service, we got to mingle with the students a little more. After potluck, Dr. Pandit had a Q & A session while some of the missionaries gave a seminar on how to study the Bible. Both sessions went well.

Towards the evening, we all went out to an Indian restaurant with some of the students from UF. The place barely fit all 20+ of us. We had good fellowship and are looking forward to working together during this week.

Song service

2-24-12

It’s been a long but enjoyable trip. Everybody seems excited about going to Florida. We have good group of 17 missionaries and students.

We’re in Florida!! After 16 hours of driving, we’ve finally arrived. We arrived earlier than planned which was nice. It gave us time to relax and bit. It is so warm here. This Cali girl is loving this weather. Now to find somewhere for lunch…

Lunch…

Okay, so after driving around town a bit we finally decided on a Middle Eastern place.  When we got there, we found out that they only accept cards with a minimum of $10 which none of us wanted to pay. Not only that, but there weren’t much options for the total vegetarian folks.  We ended up turning back and finding a restaurant that had food for everybody.

While waiting for my order, I got a phone call from someone I did not expect. It was from Pastor John Bradshaw who is the speaker/director of It Is Written. He had just finished speaking in Las Vegas for the Revelation Today Seminar that It Is Written held last month. He told me that he met a man who wanted to get baptized. He attended every night of the seminar and told Pastor Bradshaw that he read the book The Great Controversy and that he believed every word of it. What was even more amazing was that he said that he bought it from a girl named Shaina who was working her way through college. I shared this experience with the other students and they were very encouraged to put their whole heart into this mission trip. This experience showed us that God really does work though us if we are faithful.

Overcoming Seminar

The blog for the Overcoming Seminar is up!

Check it out at:

http://formingcharacter.wordpress.com/

GYC 2011 Fill Me: Our Earnest Plea

GYC’s 2011 Fill Me: Our Earnest Plea in Houston Texas was the biggest one yet with 7,500 attendees from 66 countries. The Tuesday before GYC, the CAMPUS missionaries arrived a day early to the convention center to set some things up.  A few flew in, while the rest of the group drove in from Michigan from a 22-hour road trip. I was one of the lucky ones who flew in from home. The rest were glad to finally get there and freshen up after the long drive. On arriving there we checked in to our hotel, settled in and then explored the convention center and surrounding area. It was nice to have a bit of free time before the real work started. The first thing we had to do as volunteers was to attend the volunteer meeting later on in the evening. Our GYC president spoke to us for a bit and shared with us that this GYC had the potential of having the greatest impact on our world today. Because of this, the enemy wouldn’t let us go on without harassment. In fact, we were told that some off-shoots were on their way with a 15 passenger van filled with their reading materials. We anticipated a very busy week ahead for all of us.

ImageImage

ImageImageImage

Wednesday…

It’s the first official day of GYC. People started trickling in from all places and getting in line for registration. Unfortunately, the ones in charge of registration were experiencing technical difficulties. After hours of waiting, registration was up and running. The rest of us working at the information booths weren’t any less busy. The 2 most commonly asked questions were, “Where is registration?” and “Where is the exhibit hall?” Since I was on the 2nd floor and those departments were on the 3rd and 1st floors respectively, all I really had to do was point either up or down, but of course it was enjoyable to be able to interact with people. It was a blessing to be able to serve others.

Thursday…

First full day. We were told to sincerely pray about what breakout sessions to attend, so I carefully considered my options and talked it over with the Lord. The first one I attended impacted me the most. The lecturer shared with us how we need to come to the point of full surrender, of complete emptiness, before He can truly fill us with his Holy Spirit. Other seminars were a blessing as well. It amazed me how many topics there were about the Holy Spirit which showed me how inexhaustible this topic really is.

Friday, outreach day, is often one of the highlights of the GYC experience. A total of 2,750 GYC attendees, over 300 who were on foot, knocked on 23,626 doors, passed out 18,000 GLOW tracts, received 9,340 Bible study requests, and prayed with 2,300 people. Many wonderful testimonies were shared including one where a bus driver stopped an attendee, who was on foot and basically asked, “What must I do to be saved?” They opened the Bible then and there and had a Bible study on the spot.

 

The Sabbath is always a joyful experience. It’s always a blessing to worship God at church, but there’s something about having over 7,000 devoted people in one place fellowshipping and praising God. The choir and orchestra were inspiring as well as were the messages. Perhaps my favorite part of the church service was the appeal made for baptism, the speaker was going to make a different appeal, but chose to insert this one first. I could tell the Holy Spirit inspired him to do so because many young people responded to the called including those whom we had been praying for. After the church service, many attended the totalCHURCH breakout sessions and learned ways of becoming more effective in church through prayer, worship, winning souls, praising God, leadership, and much more.  It was very inspiring and encouraged the young people to be more active in church.

Sunday

The week flew by so fast! It was hard to believe that GYC had come to and end. However, we weren’t about to leave without making commitments or recommitments to God after all the inspiring messages, fellowship, and prayer. Our own Sebastien Braxton gave the charge to follow God’s leading in whatever He may be calling us to do. Some felt called to do missionary work over seas while others felt called to witness in there own home towns. Some were weeping while others were beaming with joy in awe that would choose them to work for Him.

Here are some testimonies of some of the attendees who experienced GYC for the first time.

What were you expecting at GYC?

“I expected it to be a really big conference with many good speakers and inspiring messages.”

“I’m not really sure, but I knew that it would be big and would be a wonderful experience.”

What was your favorite part about GYC?

“Before GYC, I wondered how so many people would commit to serving God, but it was so encouraging to see the young people making commitments to obey and work for God.”

“I loved the morning devotions and volunteering. The messages were inspiring and it was a joy to be helping others. I was also encouraged to see how much evangelism was taking place all over the world. Young people really can make a difference!”

Overall, GYC was a wonderful experience (more pictures to come) and we are so looking forward to next year’s conference in Seattle Washington which is entitled: Acts: The Revolution Continues.

 

Putting Christ Back in Christmas

Putting Christ back in Christmas

What do you think about when you think about Christmas?

Christmas trees

Santa Claus

Caroling

Snow

Family

Opening presents

Hot chocolate (or carob depending on who you are…hehe)

Isn’t it sad that much of our world has forgotten or is trying to forget the Reason for the Season? As a result, the missionaries and Adventist Students for Christ decided to put on a Christmas program to help put Christ back into Christmas. Click to following links to see the video recordings.

Our hope is that our focus on Christmas this year will be on the true Gift: Jesus, God’s only begotten Son.

Merry Christmas!!