Pastors, professionals, and youth--many of them from Michigan and Indiana--work together like family. [Bill Greenley]
For this reason, Senior Pastor Ron Kelly from Village Adventist Church of Berrien Springs, Michigan, in conjunction with members of his previous congregation in Cicero, Indiana, and Jack Cain of Reach Out Ministries have been leading a series of mission trips to build the first Adventist college in El Salvador. Accompanying them on the most recent trip were members from Stevensville and Gobles churches, plus volunteers from Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Oregon.
Over spring break, 93 missionaries connected with Village and another 60 missionaries from the Cicero church met at the Adventist Training School of El Salvador (ECAS), the only Adventist boarding academy in El Salvador. Dan Bacchiocchi is the lead architect for the project. And, Yoshi Thiele, student missionary at Village Church, has served there several months to help coordinate construction.
Using ECAS as a basecamp, the missionaries are building Orley Ford Mission College adjacent to the academy. Main work projects of the most recent trip included: laying block for the septic system, painting classrooms, installing steel studding for the administration offices, pouring floors for offices, and doing flatwork for covered walkways. Volunteers also laid block to expand the existing cafeteria at ECAS and renovated a portion of the boy’s dorm. Furthermore, medical and dental services were offered to students on campus and those in the local community.
The group experienced an encouraging divine intervention after gathering for corporate prayer. Intercession was made for part of the project that had already been held up for a year. Later that afternoon, after 90 people had prayed in small groups, God clearly answered with the solution. In reference to God’s promise to answer prayers, Ellen White writes, “The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another.” - Letter 32, 1903, p. 6. (To Brother and Sister Farnsworth, January 28, 1903.)
Another interesting testimony of God’s provision is the story of Joshua Harrington, an engineering student at Andrews University. He is taking one of the hardest loads this year (no generals, all courses are engineering classes), so he was in the valley of decision over whether he should go on the mission trip or not. He determined he should go no matter what happened. Two days after he returned, he received a perfect score on two very difficult tests. These results were extraordinary and unexpected because of his limited amount of study time and the high level of difficulty of the tests. Joshua believes he did not deserve the score he received for multiple reasons. First, because he was tired from the trip and didn’t get much study time. And second, the average score was only 50% for one of the tests, however he didn’t miss a single point. God is good!
Through mission trips like this, church members, and especially the youth, are exposed to the great needs of humanity. By the grace of God, those with limited experience come home with a better understanding of what is important and have a testimony regarding the proper priorities of life. Additionally, the stories that get told about the trip create ripple effects that spread and inspire others.
Village Church Associate Pastor Dennis Page, trip coordinator, reported that the philosophy of mission undertaken by the Village church is more than simply asking: “How much work can we get done and how fast can we do it?” He emphasized the importance of building teams within the church body and creating cross-generational learning through the process of serving others. According to Page, “This creates opportunities for them to get to know each other, grow together through the experience of serving, and increase in knowledge of problem solving when challenges come along. In the end, this benefits the greater body of the church.”
Robert Rice is the Village Church Bible worker.