When Djael returned to the Youth Rush program this summer, his prayer came in the form of a question: “Does this work actually make a difference?”
“Literature evangelism is a very important seed-planting work that captures the interest of people,” Lizelle Oreño, Southern California Conference (SCC) Literature Ministries assistant coordinator, said. “You always wonder what’s going happen with our books, and then there are those glimpses of experiences God gives where you get to see it play out.”
While in Oxnard, Djael realized he had been dropped off on the same street from the previous year. The man behind one of the doors he knocked on recognized him, too. He told Djael he became plant-based because of the cookbook he bought from Djael last year, and Djael saw that the man had annotated his two other books: The Great Controversy and The Answer Book. Through Djael’s answered prayer, he saw how God used him to reach someone and he witnessed their growth from just one year.
Specific prayers, such as Djael’s, were prevalent during the summer. Students prayed to meet someone who wanted a Bible study, to reach a certain book goal, to pass out a specific book, or in Jacob’s case, to meet someone wearing a red sweater.
Jacob wanted to see God work through him, and so he prayed for other specifics such as the person would be wearing blue pants, Jacob would give them Peace Above the Storm, and he would receive exactly $20. When talking to a woman in Sylmar, she was initially interested in a different book. Since she’d been struggling with anger, she decided on Peace Above the Storm. Her daughter handed Jacob $20, and at that moment, he noticed the woman was wearing a red sweater and blue pants. After sharing his prayer with her, she told him she wanted to pursue Christianity.
“It might sound random or silly to us,” said Andy Villanueva, SCC Literature Ministries director, “but to them, it’s not, because they realize that when they pray, God shows up.”
Many prayers were answered this summer: a woman who’s had influences of Adventism throughout her life decided to visit an Adventist church; a Salvadorian canvasser was able to connect with and give The Great Controversy to a Salvadorian family; another woman brought her kids to Vacation Bible School and started studying with the pastor at that church; and many more.
“No matter how niche,” Oreño added, “if it glorifies God, He’ll make it happen.”
Villanueva and Oreño are inspired to build on this momentum between now and next year’s program.
“I want to make sure schools and churches know our department exists at the conference as a resource for them so we can partner together,” Villanueva said. “It’s a seed-sowing ministry. The Holy Spirit helps the seed to grow, but God calls us, the church, to nurture that seed.”
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