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More Compassion in San Antonio by Armando Miranda Jr.
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Two years ago, as pastor Gary Blanchard and myself started working at the Youth Department of the Texas Conference, a vision for mission started to flourish under the expectations of the upcoming General Conference Session of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. We realized that there were some areas we wanted to emphasize and as we met with different members of the team at the Conference to prepare for GC San Antonio, we knew that the task at hand was huge.

 

To reach and make an impact on a city of over 1 million where there are “not enough” Seventh Day Adventist Churches, seemed really far fetched. But we remembered that we are not called to count the things that could go wrong or the many challenges we may face, but we are called to trust in a mighty God who will move through His willing servants and perform mighty deeds!

 

The idea of the mission seemed prevalent in my mind and at first it did not have much other than wishes and dreams. This is where connecting with Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., at that time with the Atlantic Union, was an act of God. With his emphasis on “Compassion”, I started to see the possibility of “duplicating” the program and put a Texas spin on it. The more time passed and the more committees and planning sessions passed, the reality of pushing for something like this was laid upon my heart by God. For more than a year, we have been planning this event together with the whole team at the Texas Conference.

 

We planned the More Compassion Mission for the 2015 Spring Break and after many months of planning, March arrived and with it the expectation of what God was going to do in San Antonio.

 

The experiences of the last week (March 7-14, 2015) have been amazing. The simple concept of helping people seems to get lost in our churches with so much “church” work that we get carried away by it. One of the best things that I have heard from participants and pastors alike is the aspect of service without the intention of getting something in return. People seem interested to know why we are mowing their lawns at no charge, why we are picking up trash and giving them food for free. This brings up to my mind a quote from EGW found in Ministry of Healing: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me”” As simple as showing compassion, caring and just simply serving others...who would have thought it!!!

 

One of the most important aspects of this initiative is the team work between the Youth Department and the San Antonio pastors. Their support from the very beginning, rallying their churches, encouraging their members of all ages, and their leading out in the projects that are making a difference in their communities and in their city has been monumental. God is definitely leading and blessing them with stories and miracles they were not expecting. These are some of the things they are saying: 

 

Pastor Robin Lopez: “In my almost 20 years of ministry, I had not connected with the community the way that I have this past week. And it is as simple as just sharing our blessings and caring enough to get out of our church to show we care…”

 

Pastor Sergio Ochaeta: “We were working on a street with our spanking cool shirts when someone approached us and asked where could he get a shirt like that. I asked him why did he want a shirt? His response: Because I want to belong to something and it seems that you all do” 

 

#MoreCompassion Reports

 

#MoreCommunity: 625 hours of compassion to the community (lawn mowing, house clean up, and neighborhood trash pick up), 2 Bible Studies and 10 new interests.

 

#MOREfood: 600 hours of compassion to the community, 475 families served with boxes of food, 2 Bible Studies and 15 new interests for Bible studies

 

#MOREreach: 75 hours of outreach, reached 300 families with invitations for Pathways to Health which will happen in the Alamo Dome in April.

 

#MOREsupport: 180 hours of compassionate ministry, fed, hugged, prayed, and spent time with over 100 homeless men and women in the streets of San Antonio

 

MoreCompassion continues through this week. For updates and more info on this local mission trip #MoreCompassion, please visit facebook.com/texasyouthandyoungadults or YoungTexasAdventist.org


Pastor Armando Miranda Jr., is the Associate Director of Adventist Youth Ministries Department of the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists