Posted by Edwin M. Cotto
“I finally got to the point where I can actually say, ‘I love God.'” said brother Marlon with tears in his eyes. These were the kinds of sentiments expressed by faithful members and visitors of Scranton Seventh-day Adventist Church. For the past few days we were delving deep into the Word of God, studying subjects such as the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, the State of the Dead and others. Every day appeals were made, and every day real decisions were being made. Pastor Thomas Cusack and his wife welcomed ADL to his home and church, and we fully enjoyed serving them in the capacity we did. In this post I’d like to share some of the most memorable moments we had, both good and… also scary. You’ll see what I mean!
ARRIVAL, PRESENTATIONS, AND TESTIMONIES
I am afraid of airplanes. That’s right; if I could drive or bus my way to these seminars I would! And to make matters worse, I had to take two planes to Pennsylvania! The second plane had an electrical problem that delayed us by nearly three hours. I was shocked that people got upset they made us finally switch planes. Isn’t that great news? Anyway, I made it with no issues and was greeted by Pastor Cusack’s friendly face at the PA airport. Rushing to the church I started my first presentation on titled “Intro to Apologetics.” We learned how to detect logical fallacies (i.e. Ad Hominem, Argumentum e silentio, The Bandwagon, etc) which helped set the stage for detecting error in reasoning and responding to critics. We also discussed the do’s and don’ts of apologetics, such as debating, responding, and being Christ-centered in every engagement with others of a differing opinion. I fully enjoyed it when, as time went by, I noticed the members sometimes answering their own questions upon detecting fallacies in the arguments they have been presented with. One brother expressed how he was especially thankful as this helped him prepare for some important conversations he will soon be having with an unbelieving cousin of his. We’re glad to be of service.
PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS AND BIBLE STUDIES
Personally I do not like to merely present on the pulpit, so I invited all members to notify me if they’d like to meet in private for counseling or bible studies. This took place twice and I was especially grateful for one that lead to abandoning the error of predestination/election. Sometimes members of our church become confused with the teachings of our brethren-of-another-faith, especially when watching them on YouTube. I try to implement the importance of really knowing our bibles before watching anything, so that error can be easily detected. The well-known pastor whom this member was viewing used various fallacies, including the fallacy of popularity (Bandwagon), along with stopping short of reading certain verses. We would never tell people to cease listening to other preachers of a different faith, but we are pleased help them find where they’re teachings are illogical and unbiblical. This brother was especially thankful and with his doubts removed, he was able to refocus and begin a deeper study of God’s Word.
A PRESBYTARIAN PASTOR AND A FORMER ADVENTIST
“Come to one of the lectures” said Jordan, one of the members of Scranton SDA Church, to his wife’s Presbyterian pastor, “I am sure, if you are so confident in your beliefs, you will find it at least an enjoyable experience.” That’s all it took to have Pastor Kevin Johanne attending one of our evening sessions. We discussed the topic of the State of the Dead and Hellfire and I was delighted that pastor Johanne was taking some serious notes. “It was very interesting” were his last words as he was leaving home that evening. What an awesome experience that was! Our seminars are open to everyone, not just SDA members. That includes even Former Adventists, of which we also had one! This person came to the divine service Sabbath morning and after some wonderful interactions with him, I was able to leave with him a book which I believe traches the gospel is no clearer terms right after the Bible, Lessons on Faith by EJ Waggoner and AT Jones. This book was share with me and it was the means God used to bring me back to the faith many years ago when I had abandoned the Lord. I was happy to share it with this brother as well.
EVANGELISTS AND APOLOGISTS RAISED UP
The words “I have been thinking about working for the Lord now for many years… almost on a weekly basis now” struck home with me. I wish I could do this ministry full time but that opportunity has not yet arrived. This gentlemen however has not even started, and I felt it my duty to encourage him. So after a few talks at the church and over the phone, David decided the time had come. I quickly helped him sign up for ministry training for Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE) so that he can take their new online course. “Go further than this” I told him, “get a degree and then go to seminary, but begin here along with working at your church giving bible studies.” He was pleasantly shocked I’d encourage him that much, but I knew God was the one guiding me to encourage this brother. I look forward to helping David via phone and Zoom meetings as he trains to pass his course and begin working in his local area and church.
We also got a new member to our ADL team! Pastor Thomas Cusack expressed a desire to both work with ADL and also write a book with me responding to a very well known and controversial critic (I’ll reveal who that is soon). Pastor Cusack is a member of the 1888 Committee and has been doing pastoral and evangelism for over 40 years with the Adventist Church. He is currently preparing his first article for the ADL website on the Day of Atonement and the Scapegoat. Stay tuned for that!
I am convinced the enemy was not very happy with all the success taking place at this church. Every night I made some pretty strong appeals. God wanted his children to commit their lives fully, and to let God take control and cause them to overcome their sins. People were making real decisions, and the presentations was helping to cement their faith even further in the doctrines of the Advent faith as taught in the scriptures. No sooner then we ended the sixth presentation that we found ourselves in a total state of shock after being t-boned by a huge pick up. We just dropped off a sister at her him, and I asked the pastor’s wife to sit in the front next to her husband (that was the gentlemen in me, thanks mom!). But God was in this. That was the same side that felt the impact of a speeding pick-up truck who was racing down the alley-way.
According to the police officer, the side airbag did not inflate when it was deployed. He was also surprised the car did not flip over. The impact was so hard that upon landing back on the ground the wheels popped and the gas peddle (that’s right, the gas peddle) broke off and landed on the street! Surviving was a miracle from above, and we are all convinced that had we taken their smaller vehicle, we would not have lived to share this experience. Thankfully, we and the driver of the other vehicle walked away with a few bumps and no one expressed the desire to go too the hospital. There is never a moment to cease sharing the gospel though. Pastor decided to witness to the local Jewish people who stopped to see the incident, finding common grounds with them in Sabbath keeping and not eating pork. Now that’s a true evangelist! But please do keep him in your prayers as he suffered chest pain and possibly some fractured ribs.
CONCLUDING THE SEMINAR
The sermon presented during divine service on the last Sabbath called for an even stronger appeal for full commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. That afternoon we delved into the topic of the Spirit of Prophecy and on Sunday morning we watched our response to Allen Parr’s criticisms, along with two question/answers forums.
FLEW THERE, BUT DROVE BACK
They say you’re likelier to get into a car accident than a plane crash. The accident probably proves the case! Nevertheless, I am grateful to one of the members who felt strongly impressed by the Lord to donate his R.V. to the Adventist Defense League! With this gift we will be able to travel more frequent conducting apologetics seminar and… I get to NOT fly airplanes!
God is good! We have been getting more and more requests for apologetics seminars and this will be a great asset to our ministry as we seek to bring this training to churches and communities nationwide. Our next stop will be Avon Park, Fl, and then Tulsa Oklahoma! Would you like for the Adventist Defense League to come to your church? Click HERE to read a description of the kinds of trainings we provide. Here’s the schedule for a typical Ten-Day Apologetics Seminar, which is what was conducted at Scranton SDA Church:
We at the Adventist Defense League want to thank God for His mercy and loving kindness as he blessed us with the opportunity to minister to this church. We also thank the members of Scranton SDA Church and it’s leadership with the opportunity and encouragements. There is talking of coming back soon, but for a full-blown one-month training school. We’ll let our readers know the updates soon.