Former Baptist minister Arthur and his wife Deborra Jaggard joined the Anderson Church in Indiana after Deborra attended a health class. [Photo by Christa McConnell]

October 4, 2023

The Art of Connection

Friendship Evangelism Leads to Baptist Pastor and Wife Joining Adventist Church

From an early upbringing in different religious backgrounds to decades of work as devoted Baptists to their eventual decision to become Seventh-day Adventists, the spiritual journey of Deborra and Arthur Jaggard, a married couple of almost 50 years, highlights the power of community ministry to lead souls to Christ. 

Arthur's life began in Cleveland, Ohio, where churchgoing was common in the 50s and 60s, but his family wasn’t religious. 

“I tell people I was raised a heathen,” laughed Arthur. “My parents took me to the temple, to a Presbyterian church, and a Jewish synagogue once.” 

They moved frequently due to his father's corporate job and religion was never a central part of their lives. 

Then, during his college years, a sense of purposelessness weighed heavily on Arthur's heart. He began to question the meaning of his life. He started attending a German Baptist church in Apple Valley, Minnesota, during this time, not knowing how his life would take a profound turn. 

At the age of 19, Arthur made a life-altering decision. Sitting on the edge of his bed one day, he whispered, “If You’re the Truth, I’ll serve You.” It had been days since he last slept, and he was exhausted. 

“I slept like a baby that night,” shared Arthur. “I woke up the next morning feeling awesome, and I remembered the prayer I uttered the night before. I accepted Jesus then as the Master of my life.” 

Deborra's early life had been shaped by a diverse range of experiences. Born abroad in 1955 Germany to American parents while her father served during the Korean conflict, Deborra’s family soon moved to the United States and settled in Minnesota.  

“I was raised Lutheran, though I don’t recall much of my time in that church,” said Deborra. “But when I met Arthur in college, he took me to Apple Valley Baptist Church, and I was baptized around age 22.” 

Arthur's faith journey led him to become a Baptist pastor. He served diligently and passionately, sharing the gospel and impacting lives. However, his ministry was not without its challenges. Disagreements within the denomination over certain issues put Arthur in a difficult position, leading to his eventual termination from his pastoral position.

Meeting Adventists in a Health Class 

But every cloud has a silver lining. Arthur's journey brought them to Anderson, Indiana, where they encountered the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

Inspired by the ministry of the compassionate Adventist couple she met during a health class, Deborra soon began the "It Is Written" Bible study. As she delved into the Scriptures, a newfound understanding of the Sabbath emerged, a truth that resonated deep within her heart. The Adventist teachings shed light on the biblical foundation for observing the Sabbath, reaching back to the very dawn of Creation. 

On a cool sunny November day in 2021, Deborra stood before her husband and church family as she declared her commitment to the Lord and allowed Pastor Anthony Nix to baptize her into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

Deborra's heart overflowed with gratitude for the Adventist community that embraced her with open arms. She immersed herself in Adventist literature, finding solace and inspiration in the writings of Ellen G. White. Her faith journey found an anchor in the biblical principles that formed the foundation of the 28 Fundamental Adventist Beliefs. 

Arthur also found himself drawn to the Adventist church's sense of community and the sincerity of its members. 

Arthur and Deborra now engage in a ministry of their own, reaching out to others through their shared interests, such as antique car restoration. [Photo by Christa McConnell]
Arthur and Deborra now engage in a ministry of their own, reaching out to others through their shared interests, such as antique car restoration. [Photo by Christa McConnell]

“I had such a good relationship with the Adventists in Anderson,” explained Arthur. “Debbie had been going to their church for some time. And honestly, after a while, I just wanted to be with her and hold her hand during church service. As a pastor, I hadn’t had the chance to be able to just sit and do that.” 

The Adventist teachings began to resonate with Arthur on a deeper level. As he began to keep the Sabbath, he experienced physical and spiritual benefits that strengthened his conviction. 

The transition from Baptist pastor to a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a natural progression for Arthur. The Adventist emphasis on genuine worship, community service, and a deep personal relationship with Jesus was a perfect fit.  

In reflecting on his journey, Arthur emphasizes the similarities rather than the differences between his former Baptist faith and his current Adventist beliefs. He stresses that both denominations are centered on loving the Lord and believing in His Word. 

For Arthur, the real change was the peace and restfulness he discovered in observing the Sabbath and a more profound sense of purpose in his newfound freedom to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance. 

The loving fellowship and supportive atmosphere of the Anderson Church touched their souls deeply. Their hearts felt at home among this community of believers. Moreover, the freedom Arthur experienced as a retiree allowed him to embrace the Holy Spirit's guidance wholeheartedly.

Embracing the role of disciples 

Their journey to Adventism also opened new avenues of service and ministry. Embracing the call of “friendship ministry,” Deborra spends hours with people in her community who yearn for a friend, providing solace and encouragement through their shared journey of faith. 

“What really drew me to becoming Seventh-day Adventist is what I call ‘friendship ministry,’ explains Deborra. “I had attended a local Adventist health class in Anderson and made friends with the lady and her husband who taught the class. They kept in contact with me, and that connection made all the difference.” 

Arthur and Deborra now engage in a ministry of their own, reaching out to others through their shared interests, such as antique car restoration. 

Arthur's artistic talents and connection with car enthusiasts allowed him to minister to others in unique ways. He mentors young individuals, teaching them the art of welding while sharing the love of Christ. During other free moments, he helps feed the homeless and has been blessed by the intentional work of the church in the local community. 

Though he has no official role at the church Arthur said, “Being retired, I feel set free to go with the flow and focus on Jesus and spreading the gospel to the people He’s called me to serve. I just get to be where Jesus wants me to be.” 

Theirs is a testimony of the profound impact a loving and supportive community can have on shaping lives and guiding people toward a deeper, more meaningful walk with God. Through their ministry, Arthur and Deborra continue to shine brightly as beacons of God's grace, showing us all the power of living out our faith in the community and embracing the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  

Danni Thaw is a freelance writer.