If you’re like me, you’ve known about ASI for many years. You know the organization is made up of business people–its formal name being Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries–but you don’t know much beyond that. Well, it’s time we learned more because this group is on the go. They’re dynamic and confirmed in their desire to see Jesus coming soon.
The ASI Mid-America convention took place at the Denver Ramada Plaza Hotel in Broomfield from Thursday evening, April 21 through Sunday, April 24, starting with a keynote presentation by Steve Dickman, ASI national president.
Barbara Taylor, Mid-America ASI president, said, “Steve Dickman’s message encouraged faithfulness in sharing the light with urgency so that no one will say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’”
A handful of about 50 early attendees swelled to around 400 for Sabbath services. The family feel was evident when a children’s choir from the Franktown church performed during the Sabbath morning service and three young siblings from the Graybill family sang during the afternoon and evening seminars.
In his morning Sabbath school presentation, Gary Thurber, president of the Mid-America Union Conference, spoke of the “ASI family,” re-emphasizing our connectedness in Christ.
During the break for lunch, groups gathered in a central courtyard around tables where they were served lunch, while others occupied individual rooms for large family groups who brought their own picnics.
Ministering in Mid-America and beyond
The exhibit room opened after lunch for visitors to peruse the varied booths and discover the multitude of ministries operating in the territories of the Rocky Mountain Conference and beyond. Inspiration for service was plentiful. Among the displays were Feed My Lambs, Peru Projects, Binding Broken Hearts, Inc. and more.
Phillip Rego’s life changed entirely in 2008 after seeing first-hand the despair in the faces of Haiti’s people after four storms hit the island that year. Imprinted on his mind was the vision of people mixing mud, water and oil to make mud cakes to eat. “Walking away was not an option,” Phillip stated. As founder of Feed My Lambs Ministry (FMLM), he’s attempting to bring relief to the on-going plight of the Haitian people. Since 2008, the organization has invested in a health center, an academy and a water purification system.
Peru Projects, Inc. is dedicated to taking the gospel to the jungle. They run an air program that transports mission personnel and does medical evacuations, a Bible worker program that trains and deploys lay Bible workers and provides financial and logistical support as well as ministerial materials, a jungle chapel construction team for new groups of believers, and a mission group host who gives logistical support to volunteer mission groups doing evangelism, medical, dental or constructions projects.
Eden Valley’s Lifestyle Center offers help in conquering high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, allergies, arthritis, and other chronic diseases. Their trained staff provide support for exercise, hydrotherapy, vegan meals, massage, hyperbaric treatments. Also associated with Eden Valley is Stones Valley Foundation in India, orphanages that teach children (many of whom are not orphans) from the surrounding areas.
Binding Broken Hearts is a Wyoming nonprofit prison ministry that has, so far, provided support to 10,689 inmates in 349 facilities in 34 states. Each inmate who makes contact with them receives a leather-bound Andrews Study Bible, monthly letters and Bible studies. So far, they have sent out 8,014 Bibles and 77,549 letters with Bible studies. They dream of one day owning a working ranch where inmates can come, upon release, to work, to learn, and to heal.
Black Hills Health & Education Center has a wellness center, a school of massage and biblical response therapy, a coaching method and curriculum that leads students step-by-step through the process of applying a balance to the physical, mental and spiritual components of complete health.
“Our intention is to support what the church is doing rather than doing something separate,” explained Steve Dickman. ASI, I learned, impacts the church locally, nationwide and worldwide through programs they’ve developed for lay people.
New Beginnings provides resources and tools for lay-people to use with evangelism—in their own homes or in a church setting. Your Best Pathway to Health, another ASI brainchild, provides full medical, surgical, vision and dental services for the public free of charge to patients. Volunteers with Your Best Pathway to Health spent three days in San Antonio during the summer of 2015 prior to General Conference Session, treating 6,192 patients. Last weekend volunteers descended on Los Angeles with a $1.1 million budget to provide medical services to the people of LA.
ASI also has an annual project-funding cycle during which they receive applications from individuals and organizations up to December 31 when applications close. Then, around February or March, a committee looks at every application and chooses 30 to 40 projects to fund, contributing $1-2 million toward these projects.
The offering collected during the Sabbath service did more than answer the prayer of the ASI leadership. They needed $24,100 in funds, which were earmarked for five projects and their prayer was that the Lord would bless each of those projects. The offering totaled $31,010.
The last time Jamey Houghton, Franktown Church pastor, remembers attending a convention in Denver was as a child when the national convention was held there. “Attending ASI has always been an uplifting experience for me,” shares Jamey. “It is inspiring to hear how our Adventist laymen and women are sharing Christ in the places where they do business. It is equally inspiring to see their commitment to supporting ministries that share Jesus all over the world,” he finishes. Jamey has a special interest in sharing Jesus all over the world as he has led youth mission trips to many countries around the globe.
“The ASI Mid-America Chapter leadership did a great job planning the weekend,” said Steve Dickman. “The speakers, music and testimonies were a blessing and encouragement to me personally and I enjoyed the fellowship of meeting with our ASI members.
What of the future for ASI? Steve shares a quote from Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 116: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”
“I personally believe,” says Steve, “that ASI has an opportunity to help fulfill this statement and impact the work of spreading the Gospel message to the entire world.”
Being part of the weekend and talking to ASI members evoked, for me, my own youth when spreading the gospel and looking for Jesus’ second coming were focal points of our lives.