Noldy Sakul, stewardship director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s regional headquarters, couldn't believe the number of people who responded to his altar call the evening of August 26. He spoke on the final night of the five-day evangelistic series held in a local parliament building in Serian, Sarawak in Malaysia.
Sakul presented topics centered on family dynamics as well as end-time prophecies described in the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. His wife Jeanne, a registered nurse, also presented on health topics.
Half of the attendees, mostly middle-schoolers, college students and young couples, responded to the altar call to demonstrate their need for Christ. The same crowd came forward the following morning to respond to the same appeal. In the afternoon, 177 people accepted Jesus Christ into their lives and were baptized at the baptism pool of Church’s Ayer Manis School.
Among the new Christians was a lady who had been married to an Adventist for 30 years but remained indecisive about following Christ until she attended the series. She told Sakul that after coming to the nightly meetings in Serian, she was moved by the Holy Spirit and decided to open her heart to follow Christ.
"I have been to evangelistic meetings where the Adventist members would give gifts just to promote the meetings and attract a crowd,” said Sakul. “I have been to evangelistic meetings where the evening programs are polished and [the number of] musicians would overflow...Some of these efforts would only reach out to four of five people. Here in Serian, it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that [so many of] these people come nightly even with the possibility of facing doubt, discouragement or difficulty. "
Joggery Gelu, stewardship director for the Sarawak Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, pointed to the involvement of the local churches. When asked how they managed the preparation and groundwork that led to the meetings, Gelu replied, "It was a joint effort among the church elders' council in the district of Serian."
In turn, the elders worked with local church members and leaders to fill the many needs before and during the series. This type of partnership centered on Total Member Involvement, an initiative of the denomination that encourages its 19.5 million members to minister to the needs of their communities as a practical method of evangelism.
The Adventist Church in the district of Serian has more than 30 churches. Sarawak Mission falls under the Church’s Southeast Asia Union Mission (SAUM), which is headquartered in Singapore. SAUM oversees the Adventist work in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Sarawak Mission has 98 Adventist churches, which care for more than 18,000 Adventist members. It also operates the Ayer Manis School and Kindergarten in Serian, and the Sunny Hill School in Kuching.