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ASI Members in Action

Evangelism in Your Own Back Yard

Emily Thomsen

03/31/2008

“We have a mission field right in our very own backyard,” says Jason Williams, a former member of the Radiant Living Team based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Radiant Living Team is a youth-led ministry that focuses on both outreach, specifically to the cities of North America, and in-reach, to the churches in those cities. They minister to churches by encouraging unity, and to communities by offering practical seminars and evangelistic meetings.
The Radiant Living Team, led by Yamil Rosario and comprised of eight Bible workers, has a unique approach to evangelism. “Evangelism is not an event,” Yamil says, “It’s a lifestyle.”
Yamil and his brothers, Jay and Jeffrey, became interested in evangelism as a result of attending the Mission College of Evangelism in Gaston, Oregon. After completing the course there, they began to travel from city to city conducting evangelistic seminars. They became disappointed in the effectiveness of the method they used and looked for a way to do a more thorough work.
As a result, the brothers developed the Radiant Living Team concept and enlisted the help of other Bible workers. With the help of Scott Richards and Fountainview Academy in British Columbia, the RL Team launched its first program in 2003. The size of the RL Team fluctuates each year as Bible workers come and go. Now, rather than swooping into a church, presenting an evangelistic series, and then leaving, the entire RL Team may spend as long as nine months in one church. They’ve developed a four-phase strategy:
inside_asi_spring_2008_page_18_image_0003• Equipping the Saved
• Seeking the Lost
• Keeping the Found
• Cloning the Concept
In order to equip church members, the RL Team first seeks to build unity within the church. “We like to see the young people working hand in hand with the older, each one learning from each other,” says Jay Rosario. “We young people have energy, but we need the wisdom of the older members of the congregation.” Next they develop programs to deepen relationships among church members— small group Bible studies, social events with icebreakers and time for testimonies. Sometimes the RL Team finds it necessary to go back to the basics. “Just because a young person has grown up in the church doesn’t mean they understand where we came from or even what we stand for,” Rosario says. Reviewing the foundations of Adventism, they train church members in effective evangelism, inspiring them with the vision of ministry to which God has called each of us. In the second phase, the RL Team requires church members to be involved in outreach. They look for ways to meet the needs of their community, inviting people to events such as health and wellness expos; seminars on smoking-cessation, depression recovery, Christian apologetics or Bible prophecy; or classes in healthful cooking, natural remedies or stress management. “Sometimes people are turned off by an invitation to a Bible study, but they can be reached by health-related ministries,” says Season McDougal, a former RL Team A Radiant Living small group Bible study. “Then they tend to be more open to hear spiritual things.”
The third phase involves connecting existing church members with newly baptized members, encouraging a relationship that ensures the new member will continue to grow in his or her faith. The RL Team offers follow-up programs to encourage spiritual growth as well.
Finally, in the fourth phase, the focus returns to empowering church members to develop an evangelism lifestyle so that the RL Team can extract themselves and move on to another location without the church losing its outreach focus. They believe every church should be an evangelistic training center. And, Yamil says, “A church should be a spotlight in the community and make people wonder, ‘Wow, why are those people so happy? What do they know that we don’t?’”
Yamil says some people think the methods the RL Team uses are out of date and don’t reach people anymore, especially young people. However, the fact that the average age of the current RL Team is only 23 disproves this fear. In fact, Kevin Scott, an elder from the Surrey SDA church outside of Vancouver, says their youth is to their advantage. “Because the RL Team is youth-led, it has a powerful ability to catch people’s attention, simply because such spiritually-minded young people are so different from the norm,” Scott says.
“The everlasting gospel never goes out of date,” Yamil says. “If the gospel message is preached in its purity, it will accomplish its task.” He then explains: “When young people see that there is a place for them in ministry, in evangelism, they catch the vision and become missionaries first, then mechanics, teachers or doctors second.” Rosario says several young people the RL Team has studied with have now gone to Mission College of Evangelism or a similar program, and more than 10 are now actively involved in evangelism themselves.
Surrey’s pastor, George Ali, says, “I saw a revival among the members of my church.” David Ellis, pastor of the New Westminster church, says, “I wish I’d had the RL Team working with me 30 years ago. I can only say that their presence with us did something for our church that nothing else has done.”
Further proofs of the RL Team’s effectiveness are the stories of Jordan, Mark and Genevieve.inside_asi_spring_2008_page_19_image_0003
Jordan, who was baptized in 2004, tells how a friend invited him to some Bible studies where he met a guy his own age who was teaching the Bible with authority. After the Bible studies, the same guy (one of the Rosario brothers) kept calling Jordan and knocking at his door until Jordan agreed to come to some meetings.
When he saw other young people his own age preaching evangelistic sermons he thought, “This is something I need to be a part of!” He was amazed at the firm grasp the other youths had of church doctrine. Now Jordan says, “Nothing can be more exciting than serving the Lord, giving all to Him, and not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Mark explains how reading the Bible as a result of his contact with the RL Team changed his life. “First when you read the Bible, it isn’t really interesting,” he says. “But once you keep reading it becomes more and more interesting… I don’t really know what happened to me, but I changed, and I decided that I was going to give my life to the Lord.”
For Genevieve, her determination to attend the RL Team’s seminars caused strife at home. As her interest in the Bible grew, her father got angry and threatened to throw her out of the house if she converted. Despite his disapproval, Genevieve convinced him to come to her baptism in 2005. He sat in the front row. Afterwards, he seemed happier and wanted to know what Genevieve had learned about the Bible. “Inviting one of the RL Team into your home is like inviting an angel in unawares!” Genevieve says.
Though the RL Team has been in Vancouver for all of its five years, they visualize establishing a similar outpost in every major city in North America. Pastor Ellis says, “I hope that their mission and inspiration will spread like a prairie fire, igniting many churches around the world.”
Williams explains that there are 97 million people in the major cities of North America. “The question I have to ask myself is, how many of them are ready for the coming of Jesus?”