Some of the volunteers who handed out ice cream. [Photo Courtesy of Adventist Record]

General Conference

Gateway Church Distributes Ice Cream, Attracts 300 New Contacts

The handmade, plant-based ice cream was a hit with the local community

Australia | Johnny Wong/Bao Nguyen/Maryellen Hacko

By giving away free, plant-based ice cream to people in their community, members of the Gateway Adventist Church in Melbourne (Victoria) have attracted more than 300 new contacts in the past four months.

According to Bao Nguyen, a volunteer Bible worker, and Johnny Wong, a church elder who co-wrote an original article in IntraVic), the project is designed to fit into the “sowing stage” of the evangelism cycle—to connect Gateway members with their community and help them identify people’s needs.

Handmade by the team, the ice cream was distributed during January and February this year at the church’s “weExplore Centre of Influence”, located in the suburb of Clayton. Recipients were asked to fill in a community survey before receiving their ice cream, which gave church members the opportunity to get to know the people and introduce them to the different programs running at the centre.

The church offers activities like nature walks, cooking classes, a “CEO Future Project”, and their “mental resilience program” (a different version of Neil Nedley’s Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program).

“We had around 40 folks come to the mental resilience program,” explained Chris Guo, church pastor. “It was held online over Zoom, and we had a graduation just last week for them.”

In addition to this, the church ran an Easter camp that was attended by three new contacts and held care groups that more than ten new contacts have now joined; five are now having Bible studies.

Thanks to the ice cream project, a Hindu student from Monash University joined the CEO Future Project and attended the mental resilience program. After several sessions of the latter, his interest in knowing more about the Bible increased, and he started asking more spiritual questions. He is currently having personal Bible studies.

The church company, which began as a university campus ministry, now has between 60 and 80 regular attendees at Sabbath worship services and is continuing to grow rapidly, thanks to their creative initiatives and intentional harvest cycle model.

“Gateway used to be a campus-based church where we did everything on [university] campus,” explains Pastor Guo. “That’s how I came myself [sic] into the faith: as an international student, I was baptized, became a Bible worker, went to Andrews University [USA], then came here to serve. Now the church is in a transition phase, and we’re exploring how to reach out to communities by trying different things.”

The weExplore Centre of Influence is modeled after Ellen White’s counsel to “establish centers of influence in places where is need [sic?] of work being done” (Ministry to the Cities, p. 49).

If you’re in Melbourne, you can drop by the weExplore Centre Monday–Friday, 12 p,m,–5 p.m. or contact them via their website, www.weExplore.org.au

This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record

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