Should We Continue Ingathering?
Earlier this year, I visited one of the local fields in the union region and was most gratified to hear and witness the excitement with which the leadership talked about the ingathering program. They surpassed their goal by double digits as I recall. In fact, most of their churches not only reached their church goal but exceeded it. As a result, most of them, according to policy, would receive a percentage of the overflow for appropriate community programs. Coming out of that field I asked myself, “Is Ingathering Still Relevant?” The answer is “yes,” as the cries for assistance has grown, and we assist the marginalized and needy as mandated by Christ. Accordingly, I thought to share the following with the hope of inspiring a resurgence in ingathering. After all, the year is young and we have ample time to plan.
Consider the History and Philosophy
Since 1908 the Seventh-day Adventist Church has conducted an annual Ingathering crusade, endeavoring to reach nonmembers with a spiritual message. According to an official statement of the church, “They believe that Christ is the only hope for a world plagued with problems such as runaway crime, devastating wars, polluted environment, and other social ills. The Adventist objective of teaching all nations the everlasting gospel of our Lord and the commandments of God sums up their reason for a steady, consistent witness to the world.”
Furthermore, Seventh-day Adventists “believe in a wholistic concept of man and attempt to minister to his social, physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions.” Wherefore, they consider their duty as more than just “preaching the Word.” Instead, they regard “such activities as a healing ministry for the sick, the distribution of food and clothing, and the education of children and youth” as equally important as to reach the total person.
The Church’s Philosophy on Reaching the Total Person Is the Same
Given the fact that the philosophy of caring for humanity is the same, then one can rightly assume that the need for ingathering is still vital, necessary and relevant. So the million-dollar question is “How do we get our members motivated and excited about Ingathering?” Well, permit me to return to my opening story. The Cayman Islands Conference came up with a strategy to motivate its members so as to get involved as opposed to just giving the funds from their wallets or purses. Realistic goals were discussed and embraced. A time line was accepted and an effective and attractive brochure highlighting “labors of love” and ministries of care was published in color with clear photos and the right resolution. And as it is said, the rest is history, as the director and assistant director inspired the membership to get involved; and they did get involved!
Now, we, too, can get involved and realize a similar success. Again I note, “What a time to plan now with the year still young!” So later, when the time comes for the ingathering launch, we can reach and surpass our goal. Therefore, let’s get sharp photos of our good deeds and catalog them. Let us record some of our public and community activities. A brochure containing such information provides a good tool for members to go out and ingather. And with such preparation beginning now, the ingathering drive needs not linger on. The goal can be reached when more of our people are involved.
The Objectives of the Ingathering Ministry
According to the IAD Working Policy, the Ingathering Initiative carries the following objectives:
a. To bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible.
b. To become acquainted with people who need spiritual and material assistance.
c. To bring to the attention of the public the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
d. To provide opportunity for people to enroll in free Bible and health courses.
e. To leave Christian literature with each person visited.
f. To give every individual an opportunity to contribute his time and monetary gifts to meet human needs, and in this way bring to the world the Biblical message of an unfailing hope in God. All are invited to join hands in this humanitarian and spiritual undertaking.
So contact your Personal Ministries Leader at the local church, and offer to become an active participant in this vital, necessary and relevant ministry, ever mindful that “The longest journey begins with that initial step.” You can make that initial but significant step today. Get involved and make a difference in the lives of others.