Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Transformation

Author, Mark O'Dala
The group of students and short-term missionaries pose for a photo during their trip to the Dominican Republic, May 9-25, 2013.

I had preached evangelistic campaigns before, but my trip to the Dominican Republic this summer was the most epic campaign of my life. Not only did it give me an opportunity to share the gospel with God’s children in another country and to learn from their culture, it also allowed me to visibly see God working in my life.

 

Foreign evangelism presents many challenges, particularly if there is a language barrier. I am from Malawi and am not a Spanish speaker. It was amazing to see the power of the gospel changing the lives of people who did not understand my language—through the help of a translator, of course.

 

I learned a lot from the Dominican people. Church members there are great at organizing small groups composed of people who do not belong to the church. It’s a phenomenal practice because it builds lasting relationships between members and those joining the church. I spoke to one lady who was leading a small group in the area where I was conducting the meetings. She told me she organized a group of 10 members and gave them Bible studies. She was the only Seventh-day Adventist in the group. During the campaign, she visited the members in their homes after the evangelistic meetings for feedback. Almost all of the visitors who came to the meetings belonged to a small group of some kind.

By far, the most remarkable part of my trip was the opportunity to see God working in my life. While traveling there, I started to feel sorry for myself. First, I had never conducted an evangelistic campaign in another country. Second, I did not feel prepared enough to conduct the campaign. And finally, I had never used PowerPoint in an evangelistic series. All of these concerns made me nervous, and I began to question the call to go on the trip.

 

Some of my fears surfaced one night when I made an appeal for people to raise their hands to accept Christ as their Savior. Not one hand went up. Everyone sat staring at me as though he or she hadn’t heard what I said. I tried other methods of invitation, but the response was the same. I closed the meetings with a prayer, all the while disgruntled and emotionally crushed. As I was meeting with people on their way out the door, an elderly lady approached me and said, “I will accept Christ tomorrow.” My translator and I tried to convince her to accept Christ that night, but she seemed unconvinced. She cooperated only enough to end our conversation, writing down her address and answering a few questions on the decision card. The following night she came and said to me, “I told you yesterday that I would accept Christ today, so I have come. I want to be baptized.” And she was. Words can’t describe the joy this lady had; her face was radiant as the “Sun of Righteousness” shined in her heart. All of my disappointments vanished.

 

I was also very impressed with our leader, Freddy Fuentes. I remember the day I went to him to pour out my concerns.

 

“Did God know before you came here that you are not fluent in speech?” he asked.

 

“Yes,” I answered.

 

“And He chose you still?” he said.

 

“Yes!” I said again.

 

“Then what is your problem?” he asked.

 

He was always there to encourage when the road got rough. When our minds were clouded with despair and our bodies beaten by exhaustion, he took us to beautiful places to reinvigorate us. He was there when some friends got sick, and I was stunned by his self-sacrificing love. I learned a vital lesson about leadership: If one is called to a leadership position, he or she is called to a function, not a status.

 

As I studied and shared the sermons, I drew closer to God. And I preached with unusual eloquence, which surprised me and many others. I feel honored God sent me to the Dominican Republic. I went like a dog with his tail between his legs, but I came back excited like a player holding a trophy. The experience has rekindled my passion for evangelism and has renewed my commitment to God. I want to serve Him with my whole heart whenever and wherever possible, and I am looking forward to another mission outreach!



Written by Mark O’Dala
Photos contributed


This student earned a Student Evangelist Scholarship through the Education Department. To qualify, students must attend a GCC academy or college and preach a 16- to 18-night evangelistic series.