September 8, 2019—Itú, Brazil
After a blessed Sabbath spent in various churches around the area, as well as here at the headquarters of the South Brazilian Union in Itú, São Paulo, the delegation session began its work. Brother Iacob Costas of Moldova presented the morning worship message on the subject “Conformity to the Will of God,” based on. “If Christ does not reign in the heart, there will be discontent and moral deformity. Selfishness will require of others that which we are unwilling to give them. If Christ is not in the heart, the character will be unlovely. It is not the great work and great battles alone which try the soul and demand courage. Everyday life brings its perplexities, trials, and discouragements. It is the humble work which frequently draws upon the patience and the fortitude. Self-reliance and resolution will be necessary to meet and conquer all difficulties. Secure the Lord to stand with you, in every place to be your consolation and comfort.”—Lift Him Up, p. 268.
Brother Peter Lausevic presented a short message just before the meetings for the day started. He spoke about the Gospel commission Christ gave to all of His followers. He spoke about the ordination—not ordination to the ministry but ordination to work for the salvation of all men. This is the work for which the church was established. The work on this earth can never be finished until the men and women in the church unite their effort to the efforts of ministers and church officers and work together in spreading the good news of the Gospel. Angels from the world of light will be with those who in humility of heart seek for Divine guidance. We have difficult matters to discuss and decide in the days ahead of us, but if we all come together in humility and let the Lord guide us by His Spirit, the decisions we make will advance the cause of God and help prepare a people for translation.
The minutes from Friday, September 6, were read and accepted by all the seated delegates.
TEMPORARY DOCTRINAL COMMITTEE'S PARTIAL REPORT
The following resolutions were carried by the delegation session:
WHEREAS the office of the elder is often ignored, and the responsibility of the ordained deacon is misunderstood in the church today based on the account in the New Testament (−8; ), the choosing of the men who are known as the seven deacons of the apostolic church were chosen and ordained to attend to the “business” of the church and to provide spiritual and material support. (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 89); and
WHEREAS the Bible charges elders with the tasks of teaching and leading the local churches, the deacons’ responsibility is more service-oriented. They are to handle the physical or temporal matters of the church to free up the ministers and elders to focus on shepherding the spiritual needs of the church; and
WHEREAS “The appointment of the seven to take the oversight of special lines of work, proved a great blessing to the church. These officers gave careful consideration to individual needs as well as to the general financial interests of the church, and by their prudent management and their godly example they were an important aid to their fellow officers in binding together the various interests of the church into a united whole.” —The Acts of the Apostles, p. 89. It was,
RESOLVED, that in order to give the ministers and the elders more time to focus on the church’s spiritual side, the deacons are responsible for the administrative and business work of the church and assist the ministers and elders in their duties, in promoting the spiritual welfare of the church.
“The fact that these brethren had been ordained for the special work of looking after the needs of the poor, did not exclude them from teaching the faith. On the contrary, they were fully qualified to instruct others in the truth, and they engaged in the work with great earnestness and success.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 90.
Therefore, the implementation of the Biblical principle of ordaining deacons would be a great blessing to the church. Below are some of the responsibilities of deacons. As a minister is responsible for the spiritual needs and yet has many assistants, the deacon may also have assistance in his work.
Financial Management: The deacons are the ones primarily responsible for the general management of the church along with the day-to-day finances.
Care for the Poor and Needy: The example in, clearly shows that one of the major purposes of their ordination, and involvement in financial management, is that the poor are cared for, the sick and needy are visited and that the widows are materially taken care of in an official, recognized capacity.
Church Orderliness: All the responsibilities of a material nature during the meetings of the local church fall upon the deacon. This is similar to the work of the usher who would seat the congregation and provide an orderly exit to the meetings. Any bulletins or flyers may be distributed by him as well as welcoming the guests. (.)
Those taking this responsibility who are not ordained are not called deacons. They may be called ushers or another term that describes their work without all the responsibilities that come with ordination as a deacon.
Church Grounds: The maintenance and cleanliness of church property, both of the grounds as well as the building itself, making it ready for church services, is the deacon’s responsibility. This includes having the doors open and ready for any of the scheduled church activities and any of the technical needs (sound system, video as well as projection equipment, HVAC, etc.).
Material Management: Deacons should be available to help in a variety of ways so that the pastors and elders are relieved to concentrate on teaching and shepherding the church.
Assistance to Services: Preparing for and helping with baptisms, preparation for the communion service and assisting the minister or elder in such services are all to be part of the deacon’s responsibilities. He does not lead out in any of these services (unless there are no ministers or elders available) as they are specifically delegated to the ministry (The Review and Herald, May 31, 1898) but provides assistance to them as the need arises.
Although Philip was initially ordained as a deacon (, ), he later took on the role of an evangelist ( ) in the same manner as the Apostle Paul (Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 204). Although the original role of a deacon was modified due to the great persecution of believers in Jerusalem, he continued his ministry of service to the church. It was still in this role (Ms 75-1896.5) that he baptized ( ) the Ethiopian eunuch when the other apostles (Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 42.) and elders were not available (Ms 75-1896) to perform this vital ceremony.
Spirituality: Assist the spiritual needs of the church (). Based on the pattern established in Acts 6 with the apostles and the "Seven," it seems best to view deacons as servants who do whatever is necessary to allow the ministers and the elders to accomplish their God-given calling of shepherding, teaching, and in other ways spiritually administering the church. Just as the apostles delegated the financial administration to the Seven, so the ministers and elders are to delegate due responsibilities to the deacons, so that they can focus their efforts on bringing souls to Christ while the deacons help the elders retain the souls that have already come into the church.
Seeking Candidates: The church especially needs to evaluate the qualifications of treasurers and welfare workers to see if they meet the requirements to be ordained as deacons.
FINANCE COMMITTEE'S PARTIAL REPORT
WHEREAS the Temporary Finance Committee has considered the Treasurer’s Report, the Finance Committee's report, and the Auditor's Report, and after the interviews with the Treasurer, Finance Committee Chairman, and Auditor, the Committee concluded that there is nothing to restrict the outgoing officers from being re-elected; therefore, our recommendation is to clear the past administration.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE'S PARTIAL REPORT
The Nominating Committee presented the following names for nomination for the office of the General Conference president:
A season of prayer took place and the voting began. After a series of voting and another season of prayer, Brother Eli Tenorio was elected for the office of the General Conference President for the term 2020–2024.
Brother Tenorio addressed the delegation session with a very touching message:
I really do not know what to say in such a moment. I didn’t expect [this], so I did not prepare a speech for this moment. I can only come here and ask for your prayers and say that now more than ever, I need God’s help, and I need your help. I can do nothing. Only God can help us.
The passage fromcomes to my mind, and I would like to read it:
“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? . . . And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?”
When the Angel of God came to Midian, the Angel told him, “Blessed of the Lord; the Lord is with thee.” Gideon doubted that God was with His people, because so many things were going wrong for the church at that time. He said, “How are you with us? If You were with us, we would not be going through these trials—the Midianites destroying us, robbing everything. God looked to him and said, “Go in this thy might.”
Gideon had no might, brethren, to lead God’s people, until the Lord gave him the power, and the Holy Spirit enabled him to lead His people. We are living in the last minutes of the story of this world. We do not know what’s coming tomorrow, but we know that persecution is awaiting us.
And who are the first ones that will be taken to jail? The leaders of this church, those that remain faithful. We need God’s guidance. We can only subsist by the power of the Holy Spirit. The church can only overcome, if the church is united. We read the Bible, and yet we are always learning new experiences.
When the brethren called me to the room to talk about the possibility of bringing my name here, I said, “I will accept. I am probably the youngest one, the less experienced one, the less able one, with the least capacity, so there is no chance. But I will not cause the brethren any difficulty. Let them do their work.”
God works in different ways than our ways. He has His plans. We don’t always understand. But God knows more than we do. I do not understand His choice, but I believe this is His church. He is leading His church. We need to work hard to finalize the work here to live in a world better than this one.
God doesn’t always choose people who are capable, but He enables those He chooses. I trust Him. The other brethren who were here as candidates, they are all more able than I am. And I need their help. If they leave me alone, I will be lost here.
We all need God, but God puts people on our way to help us. I pray that we may work together to bring the revival that the church needs—the Reformation that the church needs.
Just two days ago I heard about a conversation between two fellow ministers, and one of them had said to the other, “You know, the church has changed since I came to the church.” Yes, the church has changed. The church has changed a lot in the last 30 years or so. Our people today in many countries are richer, they have more possessions, our young people are getting more education, but not all changes have been for the better. There are some things that we look back, and we wish they were like they were 30 years ago, and we need to work to bring back those old paths, to help our brethren to have closer communion with Jesus Christ, to understand what it means to be born again in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the solution to all problems. We see in the world that countries are changing government all the time, and every time countries change government people think, “This is our hope. It’s going to be better now.” And every time it seems, for some reason, we are disappointed.
While the world doesn’t understand that what we really need is a Reformation in the world, it will never find happiness. The solution is Jesus Christ. But while we remove Jesus from schools, while we remove the Bible from schools, the world is looking in vain for a solution. No government will solve the problem. The problem is not the government. The government can help in some circumstances, but the problem is the lack of conversion, the lack of Jesus Christ in our hearts. If we allow Jesus Christ in our hearts, to the hearts of our people in our church, if we are united, helping one another and helping the church, always thinking the best of each other, trusting each other, being united in Jesus Christ, we will be able to finish the work here soon, and go to live with Jesus Christ forever.
May the Lord bring us close to Jesus Christ, bring the people close to Jesus, and thus we will be close to one another, and His name will be glorified, His character reflected in His church, and the end will come. May Jesus come soon and take us to live with Him.
Oh, come Lord Jesus!
The session of the day ended with the message presented by Bro. Radu Ionita of Romania. Brother Ionita spoke on the topic of “Salvation of Children.” “I don’t pretend to know all about the topic, ‘How to Save our Children,’ ” Brother Ionita said. “I have two children and they also need saving. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ ”
To be able to train we need to be trained ourselves. Much study and earnest prayer for heavenly wisdom are needed to know how to deal with the youthful mind. It is important what direction we give to the mind and the will of our children. What children get to learn in early childhood will determine their future. Traits of character are built at this stage of their life. Parents stand in place of God to their children to tell them what they must do and must not do. Let us ask ourselves: How is my relationship with God? "I am reminded of the experience of the Apostle Peter,” Brother Ionita continued. “Jesus asked him: ‘Do you love me?’ If we learn how to love God with all our heart, our children will understand this love and they will be able to love God and others with the same love.”
This is the most important work anyone could do, to lead children to God. Let us commit our life to God and trust our little ones in the hands of God, and He will lead us to be a good example to them.
The meeting was closed with musical items by the women's trio, Ecos Divinos (Divine Echoes), and prayer.