Unstoppable is the word that comes to mind when you look at the early days of the church. Conflict and controversy threatened to take down the young group but, instead of destroying it, the challenges fueled the fire that spread across the first-century landscape.
And now, in these challenging times, we are reminded of our mission through the following stories from Lake Union department leaders what being the Church is really about — God’s people doing God’s work together by the power of the Holy Spirit.
More than a hundred years ago, Ellen White had a vision of beams of light growing brighter, increasing in brilliancy, and becoming far-reaching as many more lights were added to it. She was told: “You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning, it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.”1
This vision would yield a blueprint for the Communication departments of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from its beginnings, in the 1860s, until today. Only God could have predicted how the church’s needs would change through the years but, only God was all the church would need to thrive on its mission.
How does this tie into the Lake Union Communication Department? We can see how God has moved mightily and fulfilled the need for a “bright light” by providing digital communication for such a time as this.
The shift toward providing more channels of communication began with our foray into social media and broadened to a dynamic Herald website, then came the launch of a weekly newsletter. All of these avenues of disseminating information were critical and began paying dividends, even before the pandemic hit.
For instance, last fall, as a direct result of a newsletter article, “The Tent” organizer and two then-eighth-grade students were invited to talk about their student-led evangelistic meetings carried out on the campus of Andrews University. After they spoke, they were approached by a donor willing to fund another ambitious project, this time for older youth.
This brings me to where we are today. Soon after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we were well-positioned. With lots of prayer, our scrappy, rapid-fire team shared timely and relevant information via social media and the newsletter.
But God’s vision for our department didn’t stop there. With the advent of livestreams, we quickly entered the broadcasting business. Are you seeing the beams of light Ellen White alluded to in her vision? Our Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department was quick to launch the first broadcast on April 4 and, for the next ten weeks, Communication collaborated with the Health and Education departments to produce a weekly show, covering a range of topics from “Physical and Emotional Health in Quarantine” to “Preparing for the Second Wave” to the “Class of 2020 Dealing with Disappointment.”
One of the most popular shows — “Death, Grief and Recovery” — featured well-known Berrien Springs doctor Lowell Hamel who faced a near-death experience when he contracted the coronavirus only to be subsequently healed by God.
We just completed our 18th livestream production, which accrued over 50,000 total views and much positive feedback, such as this comment on social media: “The service you provided during the crisis was INVALUABLE! You were also cutting edge in having important conversations. Before many could gather their wits, you were in front of us, speaking for us, informing us, and preparing us.”
God’s use of the Communication Department has been an intentional one, which continues to today. We pray that we remain faithful, as a pen in the Master’s Hand, while He writes the closing sentences of His message with effulgent light.
“Then there was rejoicing in heaven. I saw that the rays of light came directly from Jesus, to form these precious jets of light in the world.”2
1White, Ellen G. Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 125. WBEGW 31.1
2Review and Herald, July 26, 1887, Gospel Workers, old edition, p. 378
Debbie Michel, associate director of Communication, Lake Union Conference