The privilege of canvassing: KYTN on the go for a greater mission

It was a warm Thursday evening. A young group of people found themselves in the parking lot of a Lowe’s retail store. Each of them carried a black satchel bag filled with books about health, history and hope. Among the group was Juan Hernandez. Like his friends, Hernandez was a canvasser with the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference.

The day for Hernandez was not going too well. He was having a hard time selling books, facing rejection after rejection instead. Standing under the heat, Hernandez felt disappointed.

“God, send me the right person at the right time,” Hernandez prayed.

On the surface, that is the job of a canvasser – to go door to door, or person to person, selling books. During a ten-week program, these young students approach strangers and offer a selection of books for a monetary donation.

The days are packed, working Sunday through Thursday and following an organized schedule from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The team, composed of 23 canvassers and 5 leaders, cook, clean worship and train together.

“The days are very systematic and purposeful,” said Ivan Martinez, leader of the canvassing program at Taylor Mill, Kentucky.  “We want to make sure that our students are thoroughly furnished and properly prepared for the work that’s before them.”

But beyond selling books, canvassers have another, more meaningful goal: to share a message of hope. Among the list of inventories, are History of Freedom and In Search for Peace, also known as The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ, respectively. Canvassers also carry books promoting the health message, like Live Life to the Fullest and Something Better – books with tips and recipes for improving health.

“Selling books is hard, you know? But it’s a privilege,” said Neri Rivera, a canvasser who came all the way from Belize. “Because we are rejected, we are being a witness for Jesus.”

Heisler Aguila says he always tries to put his best smile when knocking on someone’s door, even if the previous house was not interested.

“We are out here not to just sell books, but also to manifest Christ through our character,” Aguilar said. “Maybe their encounter with us is the only connection they’ve had with the church and thinking that I might see someone in heaven because of the work I’m doing here keeps me going.”

According to Martinez, canvassing is also an opportunity for the students involved to grow their relationship with God. Martinez, who started canvassing in 2018, says his role as a leader includes meeting students in their spiritual walk.

“The most rewarding part is when you have students telling you that their lives are completely different because of our programs,” Martinez said. “Seeing God work and transform [the canvassers’] lives make everything worth it. Because this isn’t this isn’t only about the people out in the community, it’s about the kids that we have here.”

Hernandez was still in Lowe’s parking lot when he heard someone calling him out.

“Hey, are you Richard?” the stranger asked.

“No, my name is Juan,” Hernandez replied.

And as simple as that, the two began a conversation. Hernandez explained to the man how he was selling books to raise money for school and explained what each book was about. The man did not seem interested at first, but his attention peaked when Hernandez presented him History of Freedom. Without saying much, the man took out $10 from his wallet and gave it to Hernandez. Hernandez thanked him and the man went on his way.

“As I saw him walk away, I remembered my prayer just a few minutes before,” Hernandez said. “It was amazing, because God send the right person when I needed the encouragement. I wasn’t looking for him. He came to me. The thing is, when your faith is tried that is when your faith grows.”

New church mission in Lexington meets lack of Adventist presence in area, caters to Spanish community and outreach needs

On Saturday, July 3, 2021, the day before Independence Day, Parsons, Tenn., Church leaders conducted the grand opening of the Lexington, Tenn., Mission Church. This new mission marks the first Seventh-day Adventist church in the area, where the Spanish and English community will have a place of worship and a multipurpose center for outreach.

The vision for church plant began in 2017 when Daniel Spencer, Parsons Church pastor, saw the need for outreach among the Lexington community. Lexington has a population twice as big as the surrounding districts of Lobelville, Tenn., and Parsons combined, according to a statistic report by Data USA.

“Lexington is a big city, yet there was no Adventist presence in between our churches in the district,” Spencer said. “The next Adventist Church, which is in Jackson, is about one hour away.”

The new church was also made to accommodate the growing Hispanic community and to open the door for outreach ministries in the area. Church board members unanimously voted to rent a building right across Lexington City Hall, according to Spencer. One side of the building will be used for church services, conducted in Spanish and translated to English, while the other side will be reserved for outreach programs such as cooking classes and activities for children.  

“The plan of this new church is to be a light and to go out and search,” said Josue Lopez, the Bible Worker for Lexington Tennessee Church. Lopez was heavily involved in starting the community connections at Lexington and finding the building for the church. “Our mindset is that though we may be starting here, we won’t finish here. We want to work with people, make friends and help in the community. We want to go out and serve.”

The grand opening program was led by Parsons Church members. KYTN Hispanic Ministries Coordinator Armando De León gave the message and, joined by other leaders and participants, conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Lexington Tennessee Church will be led by Lopez along with 12 volunteers and the guidance of Parsons Church leaders. Currently, the church is aiming to start with an attendance of around 30 individuals each week.

“To me, this a great blessing and dream come true,” Spencer said. “I’ve seen how God has His timing and works things for good. … I am happy we are [in Lexington], and I do believe there’s a lot of potential here.”

‘Looking for God’s still voice’: Indian Creek Camp ignite spiritual growth among staff, counselors

Indian Creek Camp (ICC) has been running their summer programs for more than 60 years, with well over 1,000 campers joining the sessions throughout a period of seven weeks. While the camp is geared to serve the family and children through a spiritual environment, camp staff and counselors are also blessed during their time at ICC.

This was the case for Eustace Eusebio, ICC’s Super Science instructor and a co-counselor.

“In the beginning of the summer, we had these interviews and one of the questions asked was ‘why are you here at camp?” Eusebio said. “In my mind, I knew the main reason I came here was because my friends had been bugging me for a couple years to join them.”

Eustace Eusebio is a computer science and engineer senior at Louisville University, Kentucky. Though he grew up in an Adventist home, he says it was difficult adapting to a secular setting.

“Growing up in an Adventist community, you’d expect [your faith] would carry on to any environment that you go into,” Eusebio said “…But when I went to college, I could feel myself drift away from God.”

Marian Prieto-Perez, ICC camp counselor, went through a similar experience. She is also a student at Louisville University finishing her B.A. in History. Prieto-Perez has been working at ICC for four years and says coming back helps her reflect on her spiritual journey.

“[At school], I’ve had a lot of uncertainty about my faith,” Prieto-Perez said. “[ICC] has just been a really good place to reevaluate my beliefs and see where I am with God.”

ICC is divided in three different sessions spread throughout the summer: juniors, teens, and family camp. The day consists of worship and activities such as horseback riding, archery and wall climbing. At the of the day, camp counselors put on a play following a story of the Bible.

This summer, the theme was “The Ultimate Promise,” which portrays the story of Moses and Joshua reminiscing on their journey on earth and looking forward to heaven. After the play, camp counselors get to discuss lessons with their campers. Prieto-Perez says this is one of her favorite parts of the day.

“You’re teaching the kids a about Christ, but in a lot of ways they are the ones teaching you,” Prieto-Perez said. “The children remind me about the faith that I used to have as a child. It’s not necessarily liked a blind faith because they still have a lot of questions, but it’s a curious faith that is expanding.”

Eusebio feels the same way. After being in camp for several weeks, he thinks about his response to that initial interview question. Now, he wants to change his answer.

“My new answer would be ‘I came here to camp looking for God’s still voice,’” Eusebio said. “I feel like I completely lost that over the past three years of college. I’m still looking, for sure, but it’s a lot clearer now than it was at the beginning of summer.”

The Tie That Binds

A threefold cord is not quickly broken. What comes to mind when you think of this verse?  Perhaps you remember a time when you played tug of war, or pulled a bucket of water from a well. Maybe you think of taking the family boat out for some fun in the sun. Serious boaters certainly know the  importance of having a few good ropes on board. 

6/20/20 Sabbath – Church at Home

You will be inspired by this beautiful message of hope and encouragement found in the story of a despised and rejected woman shared by Pastor Gail McKenzie. Our amazing God, is the “God Who Sees” and who hears and answers our deepest needs. May you be blessed this Sabbath!

6/13/20 Sabbath – Church At Home

Enjoy this beautiful Hour of Praise and Worship. May you be drawn closer to Christ this Sabbath through the beautiful music shared from across KYTN Conference.

6/6/20 Sabbath – Church at Home

Join us today as Pastor Roger Schmidt opens to us the Word of God and encourages us to allow God’s Word to change and prepare our hearts for God’s Spring Cleaning.

2020 ACFI

5/16/20 Sabbath – Church at Home

Have you ever wondered if God hears your prayers? Pastor Nelson Mercado breaks down for us God’s silent communication in this week’s message. Enjoy this Virtual Church!