Island visit challenges evangelists

Friday September 23, 2016 Written by Published in Church Talk
Avondale College of Higher Education seminarians experience cross-cultural evangelism during their visit to the Cook Islands. 16090941 Avondale College of Higher Education seminarians experience cross-cultural evangelism during their visit to the Cook Islands. 16090941

STUDENTS from the Seventh Day Adventist Avondale College of Higher Education in Auckland, New Zealand visited the Cook Islands during their mid-year break recently.

 

The visit gave Maciej Kuberek an opportunity he never thought he would have to present his first evangelistic series of sermons on his first trip overseas.

He experienced Rarotonga’s culture and lifestyle with nine other students from the college in an inter-cultural experience that forms part of a unit called “Evangelism in Practice.”

The visit saw the students form five teams that presented programmes on Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu, during which they learned the importance of cultural context, the need to rely on the Holy Spirit and the role of public meetings as an evangelistic tool.

Stephen Duncan, the student who partnered with Kuberek, says he learned to do what had at first seemed impossible.

“The experience of teaching about Jesus after beginning to understand a different cultural setting opened doors to presenting God’s message of love to groups of people in a way we could never have dreamed possible.”

The growth of the students has been incredible.

“Their preaching style and their ability to deliver the gospel in the local context was a blessing to see,” said Avondale seminary head Dr Kayle de Waal

Despite being well prepared for his presentations, student Jacob Ugljesa said he often felt inadequate and unprepared.

“I had to rearrange the sermons to be more applicable for a Rarotongan audience,” he says.

“I had to rely solely on the Holy Spirit to work through me.” Ugljesa and Rosemary Andrykanus’s presentations about parables in the Bible were so well articulated listeners said they could imagine themselves involved in the stories.

The experience also helped challenge Jonathan Gillard’s observations that evangelism is all about the evangelist giving a blessing to others.

“I received just as much as I gave during this trip,” he says. “Midori [another student] and I noticed how hospitable the church members on Rarotonga were and how respectfully children interacted with adults.”

The three teams on Rarotonga presented a two-week evangelistic series called “Jesus in Revelation” in the evenings and Weeks of Prayer in the primary and middle schools at the Papaaroa Adventist School in the mornings.

Students Apii Inukiha’angana and David Leo also led a week of prayer at Teka’aroa Adventist School on Aitutaki.

The school programmes were important because half of the children were not affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The children chose to attend the evangelistic series because they enjoyed the meetings and because they got to play with and get to know the Avondale seminary students.

Inukiha’angana, Leo and Clinton Dutlow and Fabiono Niyonkuru, the other two students on Atiu and Aitutaki, learned to appreciate the dynamics and challenges of a small island where up to five Christian denominations coexist.

“One woman said she was convicted to keep the Sabbath after the ‘change of the Sabbath’ presentation,” says Leo. “But she felt she would be betraying her family who had been part of the Cook Island Christian Church for generations.” - Release

Avondale Seminary Head Dr Kayle de Waal and lecturer Pr Mike Parker noticed improvements in the students’ preaching, too. “The growth of the students has been incredible,” said de Waal, who worked with the students on Rarotonga.

“Their preaching style, their sensitivity to move with the Spirit and their ability to deliver the gospel in the local context was a blessing to see.”

Avondale College of Higher Education is a not-for-profit private higher education provider established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1897. Its mission is to foster a Christian learning community dedicated to serving world needs.

-          Release

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