With an emphasis on fostering healthy marriages, family dynamics, and relationships, the Seventh-day Adventist World Church’s annual “Family Togetherness Day of Prayer” will be celebrated in homes and churches across the world this Sabbath, September 11.
Themed “I Will Go With My Family: Unity in Community”, the day of prayer marks the end of “Family Togetherness Week” (September 5-11), which is designed to encourage husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and families to produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives each day.
Co-directors of the Department of Family Ministries for the Adventist World Church, Willie and Elaine Oliver, have put together devotional readings and activities for families to use throughout Family Togetherness Week, as well as a Family Togetherness Day of Prayer global broadcast that local churches and families are encouraged to watch on the final Sabbath.
“In a practical sense ‘I Will Go With My Family’ is about understanding that the most important mission field is our family, who we want to also involve in the great commission of sharing the good news of salvation with our relatives, neighbors, and friends,” said Willie Oliver. “It means living each day with purpose—understanding that our lives should be mission-focused as we live each day in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.”
With this focus in mind, the live broadcast has a strong emphasis on the power of prayer in staying mission-focused, as well as outreach initiatives undertaken by Adventist families and individuals across the world.
Hosted by the Olivers, the broadcast opens with an interview with Adventist World Church president Ted N.C. Wilson and his wife Nancy, who share personal stories of moving across the world for ministry, the recent tragic death of their grandson James, and how prayer has played a tangible role in these circumstances, and throughout their lives.
“Everything that concerns us, concerns Him. He’s a very personal God,” says Nancy Wilson. Elder Wilson agrees, “The Lord has helped us through and is still helping us through . . . Prayer helps you to focus on what God will do not only now, but in the future.”
Notably, the Wilsons then pray for families who have lost loved ones, asking God to give them comfort and the knowledge that they are never alone.
The program then features Adventists across the world who are living out the call “I Will Go With My Family”, and doing family-centered evangelism in their local churches, and at Conference and Division levels.
Specifically, the program will feature Richard and Boitumelo Moarabi, family ministry leaders at Broadhurst Seventh-day Adventist Church in Gabarone, Botswana; Dr. Socrates Quispe, associate director of Education for the South American Division, alongside his wife Fanny and children Daniel and Alessandra; Karolina Poland, associate director for Children’s, Family and Youth ministries for the Swedish Union of Churches Conference; and General Conference Vice President and Family Ministries administrator Pastor Geoffrey Mbwana and his wife Nakku.
Following their interviews, each person or family is asked to pray for a specific aspect of family life, including husbands and wives of different faith traditions, families doing evangelism together, parents who want their children and teenagers to know Jesus, and families in unexpected and difficult circumstances.
By focusing on and praying for families, the hope is that the broadcast will bring to the forefront the importance of healthy families for evangelism. As Elaine Oliver explains, “Ellen White reminds us in The Adventist Home (p 32): ‘One well-ordered, well-disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached.’ Since everyone wants to enjoy happy family relationships, a family who lives out God’s love as they relate to each other is a powerful witness of God’s grace and power to save.”
Elder Wilson agrees, also emphasizing the importance of praying for families in the context of terrible global events happening in our world right now. “We need to pray for specific things, for people, for places. Praying for Myanmar and the challenges they’re facing, Brazil and the COVID-19 situation, South Africa, Haiti, Europe with the floods. We need to be praying for our church members and each other and know that God hears us and that He answers us.”
During the broadcast, interviews and prayers are interspersed with musical items from talented church members across the world.
Following the broadcast, Willie Oliver hopes that churches and families will retain this family focus “by being intentional to make all their programs family-friendly and by regularly sharing content in sermons, seminars, and activities that promote healthy family relationships.”
To facilitate this, the Olivers have created a resource book filled with sermon ideas, seminars, children’s stories, as well as leadership resources, reprinted articles, and book reviews to help facilitate family emphasis days and special programs throughout the year. There are also detailed instructions on how to implement family ministries in local churches, as well as digital resources like Microsoft PowerPoint presentations of the seminars and handouts, which can be customized to reflect your church for the community. These can be downloaded at family.adventist.org/2021RB
Finally, when asked for her top tip on creating a healthy marriage or family, Elaine Oliver says, “Begin each day with Jesus as a family by having family worship and end each day with Jesus by having family worship. As families, make Jesus the center of your relationship, so you will be filled with His Spirit and will be able to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23) in your relationships with each other every day.”