In order to show our solidarity with and support for the efforts of the government to address the COVID-19 issue, and in appreciation of their concern to keep our people safe, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei decided to temporarily suspend church worship services beginning the second week of May until further notice. Never before in my 40 years of ministry in the SDA Mission had I ever confronted a situation of this magnitude. There had been other types of temporary shutdowns but not any that closed down churches. I wondered how I was going to cope with this new and strange worldwide crisis. What would I do Sabbath mornings without our traditional Sabbath schools and divine services to go to?
When I prayerfully opened Facebook one gloomy morning, a post from one of my friends leaped at me. It said, “The devil may think he has closed all the churches, but in reality, God has opened one in every home!” The quote was a springboard for new innovative ideas for our Sabbath ministry. Yes, since the virus had not yet reached the sunny shores of our remote Pacific islands, the church elders and I determined to take church to people’s homes each Sabbath and turn their houses into cathedrals. Here are just two examples from our Sabbath house visitation program.
The lady of the house was a Seventh-day Adventist, but the man was not. The sweet influence of the Holy Spirit descended upon us as we sang the songs of Zion, prayed, and the elder shared an inspirational devotional. We had already set up the bread, wine, and water for the foot washing ceremony and the Holy Communion service in that humble home. Acts 2:46 began to flash with new meaning in our minds and hearts: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” As my wife began washing the feet of the lady, I began to wonder whether the gentleman would accept the offer of Communion. Unsure of his would-be response, but with a silent prayer in my heart, I approached him with a towel and a basin of water, knelt down in front of him, and asked whether it would be alright if I washed his feet. His ready response seemed as though he was only waiting, just waiting for someone to perform the ordinance of humility for him. As we washed, prayed, and talked, it was obvious that he had been touched by the elder’s message that morning. He expressed his sincere desire to study the Bible with us further at some point in the future. We broke bread, drank wine, and fellowshipped, then left with the feeling that this whole episode would never have happened if we did not go from house to house that sunny Sabbath morning bringing the blessings of worship to humble homes. We drove away “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
I will share another scenario. This time the man of the house was a Seventh-day Adventist, but the lady was not. It was my wife’s turn to wash her feet. Would she allow it? The same miracle was repeated! Willingly did she accept, not only the ordinance of humility, but also the emblems of the broken body of Jesus and His spilled blood. I could almost hear Jesus whisper, “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9).
During the past four years of my ministry as the senior pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei, I have noticed that in every town, village, and corner of this garden island, people are just waiting; waiting for someone to come, visit, and bring to them the Bread of Life. There is so much potential for Adventist evangelism. Often the load is overwhelming and we are left feeling that all our work is only a drop in the bucket. But the God of great things is also the God of little things.May He continue to bless and prosper our humble ministry for the honor and glory of His great and mighty name. “The harvest truly [is] great, but the labourers [are] few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
If we ever before needed the significance of the words of this gospel song, surely we need it now in our present situation of uncertainty: “Jesus now more than ever, We are sailing in stormy weather, All His children should get together, For we need Jesus now more than ever."