Mission involvement, reaching the unreached, helping the underprivileged, and serving in hands-on ministries were highlighted during the Mission Emphasis Week on August 24-September 2, 2023, themed “Rejoice With Me,” inspired by the Gospel of Luke 15.
The AIIAS community took part in the week’s activities, which aimed to display that mission is the core of its existence and its values, with it being a top priority for the world church and the community.
The event started with the opening of the Bethlehem Bakery Ministry. Its mission was to help and bless the underprivileged families outside AIIAS by baking bread every week. The AIIAS Community Service divided its members into groups that went to different local barangays. With the help of local church pastors, these groups could go deep into the communities, introducing their purpose to the residents. For some students, it was their first time stepping into these local communities within Silang. Some collaborated with the generosity of sponsors to provide food and grocery items.
The groups assessed the community’s needs, shared God’s love with each family, and prayed in each home they visited. They had the chance to see the local churches, where they were met with the anticipation of both church members and non-believers. Others took the second mile to provide beyond what was intended for those who sought good education and funeral assistance, to name a few. With generous sponsors’ provisions, the groups could provide food and grocery items covering some basic necessities.
Through participating in hands-on ministries such as this, faculty, staff, and students have experienced joy and gratitude about sharing God’s blessings to the underprivileged:
“It’s what we do for others that brings great pleasure and satisfaction as we encourage and support the respective families with our bags of gifts, and with those words, I encourage us to, if ever we have the opportunity to do outreach, to take part,” says VonErik Liligeto, a PhD in Education student from Fiji.
“It was really nice to be out of the community and meet wonderful people. It’s my hope that we can do more in the future to find a way to help them going forward,” says Richard Doss, faculty member of the applied theology department.
“I like very much seeing how our local pastor and the church was already very active in the community, and we could come in and give some extra help and support,” says Kenneth Bergland, faculty member of the biblical studies department.
One thing that stood out this year was the audience’s involvement during presentations through interactive virtual survey participation. Different departments and entities within AIIAS created a series of presentations showing a glimpse of effective ministry for those unreached by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Practical theology was strongly applied throughout the week. While most reports involved mission participation by student clubs, others shared their experiences serving alongside family members. Several students showcased their personal ministries, demonstrating the outcomes of their service learning requirements. While other entities shared about mission trips abroad, some presented how living on campus is a ministry of its own.
“There’s the joy of salvation when we see others coming to the loving relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Pavel Zubkov, department chairperson of the applied theology department. “When we are experiencing the joy of saving others and ourselves being saved, we cannot be silent. We want to invite others to rejoice in the Lord.”
A panel discussion on ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and tribalism sparked the themes of the week-long presentations. It dissected the value of implementing effective ministerial practices and potential solutions of sensitivity to others while working on missions. The panel also addressed awareness of cultural differences and prejudices. “No culture is perfect. No one can claim that our culture is superior to others. We are redeemed in Christ,” says Dr. Maila Dizon, a faculty member of the applied theology department. “We don’t have a natural love for the lost. The Lord works in our hearts to see that value. That’s how we can address this nature.”
The public health department promoted the importance of developing and living a healthy lifestyle. They shared the history of the Advent health reform and the health message while elaborating on the effectiveness of lifestyle coaching, building lifestyle centers, and promoting the health ministry through medical institutions, literature, education, and wellness expos. Their influence as medical missionaries effectively directs individuals to Christ, the source of healing and the ultimate physician.
The business department showed its role in God’s mission field by integrating business approaches into mission work. They presented their mission trips to islands in Oriental Mindoro while others shared their experiences as volunteer missionaries abroad. They showed that even business people can provide hands-on ministry by leading in evangelistic meetings and developing friendships with the locals. “The good thing about ministry is not about the scripted and planned activities, but the segway ministries along the way: the people that really need help,” shares Joseph Allan Deblois, MBA student. Together with the locals, they worked to build churches, teach livelihood programs, and support communities in the best way possible.
The education department presented the challenges of traditional evangelism methods in reaching the unreached. They showcased many innovative ways to counter the rejection often faced by missionaries in these areas while sharing their learnings about the trip to Indonesia last June 2023. The longest-serving Adventist Volunteer Services missionary, Helen Hall, was invited to share her mission experience as a frontline missionary educator serving in a jungle school along the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Her experiences as a teacher in a rural area serving Buddhist and Muslim communities call for action regarding how the ministry can effectively reach the unreached.
The importance of having an immersive study of cultures before enculturation and the introduction of religion became one of the central themes of discussion. The presentations showed how the effectiveness of mission work begins with knowing the recipients of the ministry. The Mission Emphasis Week urged the focal point of meeting the individual’s basic needs before prioritizing their spiritual needs.
The week ended on Sabbath with a sermon by Dr. Ricardo González, dean of the AIIAS Seminary. He based his sermon on the Old Testament story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon’s temple to test him on complex questions and to learn and observe the ways of the people under his leadership, which, in the end, introduced her to the Lord, praising the great God where Solomon gets his wisdom from. “‘We are to remember that the greatest talents or the most splendid services are acceptable only when self is laid upon the altar of a living consuming sacrifice.’ The Lord will use all of us the more we surrender every day to His will.” concludes González.
The events concluded with AIIAS inviting other institutions to promote their ministries through a pop-up booth exhibit at the gymnasium. The display proved that there was plenty of practical mission work to be done and that this work could succeed even further if everyone worked together to attain one goal: to bring the lost to Christ.