By the end of June, I will have completed 50 years of service for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
During these years, I have been blessed to serve as an elementary and secondary school teacher, a principal of elementary and junior academies, a superintendent of education, a pastor, a vice-president (Executive Secretary) of a local conference, and your president for the Carolina Conference for the past 11 years. I am deeply honored and
humbled by the sacred trust the members of this conference family have placed in me by electing me as their servant leader for three consecutive terms.
As I continue to serve the church, I must admit that I have more questions than answers.
We all need each other in this life of confusion and sometimes insurmountable circumstances.
That’s why I am reminded of the importance of Jesus’ call to “Go and make disciples.” Being
a faithful disciple involves acts of compassion and kindness, honesty, seeking advice, prayer,
meditating on scripture, and having a willing spirit to do all of these things.
The author of Ecclesiastes wrote the profound truth, “Two are better than one, because they
have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who
is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” As we live out our faith in Christ,
we need each other, even though we often try to go it alone. We need reproof and instruction,
even though we rarely seek it out. This is why discipleship is so important.
One of our quinquennial initiatives is to develop Nurturing Companions (NCs) in all of our churches. The reason for this is that simply baptizing members into a local church will not
keep them as part of the family of God. Most people leave the church or stop being involved
due to fractured or nonexistent relationships, not because they have turned away from the truth. They no longer have the desire to be with God’s people. There are three reasons why
discipling relationships are important for creating healthy and vibrant Seventh-day Adventist
churches in the Carolinas:
Discipleship builds humility. We need to resist the temptation to be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7) and acknowledge that we do not always know what is best. It is unwise to blindly trust oneself, as the heart is prone to deceit (Jeremiah 17:9). Wise counsel from a friend, pastor, or spouse can be used by God for our protection.
Discipleship unites us with fellow believers. The body of Christ is meant to travel the road of life together (Acts 2: 44-47), not just congregate on Sabbath mornings. People will not know what is happening in your life unless you are open to sharing it with them. By embracing transparency and accepting discipleship from others, we can cultivate opportunities for mutual encouragement through prayer (Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11) and strengthen our connection as members of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30).
Discipleship equips us for faithfulness in our walk with Christ. Paul tells us in Titus 2:2-3 that more experienced members of the church should set an example for the younger members by teaching and training them to walk in step with Christ and the truth of the gospel. It’s not just a suggestion. This is a divine directive on how we should treat each other and underscores the necessity of being discipled and being ready to guide others in their faith journey.
Well before we were called Christians, we were actually called “disciples.” In this year of 2023, may each of our hearts embrace Christ’s call to be faithful Seventh-day Adventist Christian disciples of His church in the Carolinas!
Your servant leader,
Carolina Conference President