Adventist Laymen’s Service and Industries, more commonly known as ASI, held its annual convention over the weekend of August 2-5, 2017. Held at the George R. Brown Convention Centre in Houston, Texas, the plenary sessions, seminars, and booths all centered around the convention’s theme: Called. Chosen. Committed.
The convention included inspiring presentations from a variety of business and ministry leaders, practical seminars on evangelism, business, and ministry, and a variety of special features and presentations highlighting the diverse and powerful impact that self-supporting ministries have on the mission and work of the Seventh-day Adventist church. The convention was preceded by a community health expo held on August 2nd, which was staffed by over one hundred volunteer delegates. In addition to the regular health screenings, the health expo provided free counseling, massage, and beauty services to those who participated.
For the second year in a row, ASI hosted the annual Fruition Lab conference during the first three days of the main ASI convention (August 2-4). Fruition Lab was founded by Adventist business and ministry leaders with the desire to create an organization to nurture the next generation of Adventist entrepreneurs and business leaders. The Fruition Lab conference included networking sessions and presentations from Shalini David (founder, Christalis), Charles Braken (founder and CEO, Getix Health), and Ruben Dias (Fasttrack Venture Capital), culminating in a pitch event on Friday afternoon (August 4th).
The convention’s main plenary sessions were highlighted by a number of presentations by a diverse array of speakers, including Steve Dickman, Andi Hunsaker, James Rafferty, Todd Guthrie, Julian Archer, Alexis Abrahantes Carralero, Shawn Boonstra, and Kyle Allen. The plenary sessions also included “Offering in Action” segments and interviews with ministry leaders, highlighting the work of their respective ministries and organizations. Highlights included a new documentary series on the Protestant Reformation (Light Unshackled) and a new conference for young Adventist entrepreneurs (Fruition Lab).
As part of an ongoing collaboration between ASI and the General Conference, ASI hosted a special seminar on Friday afternoon focused on Total Member Involvement, a General conference initiative centered around engaging every Adventist church member in active evangelism. The seminar was well-attended, and delegates were provided with a thorough grounding in the practical application of TMI at the individual level.
The presenters included Ted Wilson (GC President), who called attendees to a deeper focus on Christ as the center of our evangelistic efforts, Duane McKey (Assistant to the GC President for TMI, President of Adventist World Radio), who reviewed the many stories of how TMI is achieving incredible results around the world, Michael Tuazon (Director of SOULSWest), who shared stories of how TMI is being applied in the United States, and Ranela Kaligithi (Assistant Literature Ministries Director, Central California Conference), who appealed to attendees to make Christ first, last, and best in their lives.
ASI included four seminar tracks, each focused around a specific aspect of Christian life and ministry, designed to provide additional instruction for those who desired to delve deeper into specific areas. Track 1, “Defending the Faith,” focused on the validity and relevance of the Adventist message, and included speakers such as Cindy Tutsch, Mark Finley, Ron Duffield, and Jim and Virginia Davidson.
Track 2, “Applying the Faith,” centered around the practical reality of living as a Christian on a day-to-day basis, and included speakers such as Don Mackintosh, Tom and Alaine Waters, James Marcum, and Michael Dant. Track 3, “Sharing the Faith,” taught practical methods of sharing Christ with others, and included speakers such as Vicki Griffin, Ryan Hayes, Ron Woolsey, and Bill Krick. Track 4, “Living the Faith,” provided strategies for living and succeeding in business and ministry as a Christian, and included speakers such as Jamie Schneider, Julian Archer, and Daniel Binus, as well as a panel discussion by Ruben Dias, Danny Houghton, and Jared Thurmon.
The Sabbath morning session included a panel discussion of the Sabbath School lesson moderated by Lindi Schwartz. The participants included James Rafferty (Speaker/Co-Director, Lightbearers), Justin Kim (Editor, Collegiate Quarterly), Elias Baquero (Nurse, Florida), and Bob Hunsaker (Physician, Massachusetts). The discussion centered on the power of God to accomplish His will in our lives, a work in which we cooperate with Him, through constant faith in His goodness and power.
The divine service opened with three powerful testimonies of how ASI’s evangelistic work is impacting lives across the world. The first testimony came from a former Orthodox clergyman from the Ethiopian Union Mission who had the courage to live for his faith under extremely forbidding conditions. The second testimony came from the Fournier family, who run a primary school in Tanzania, which gives an Adventist education to many of the children and youth of Tanzania. They spoke about the great needs for education and aid for the women and children of south-central Africa.
The third testimony came from Norman Reitz, ASI’s Vice President of Evangelism, who shared a powerful vision for ASI’s New Beginnings picture roll project, which enables pastors and lay leaders to use ASI’s New Beginnings DVD evangelism resources without electricity, a project which, by the grace of God, will lead millions to Christ over its lifetime.
Once the offering had been taken, Shawn Boonstra took the stage for the Sabbaths sermon. His presentation focused around the story of the selection of Saul as king of Israel; he brought out key lessons related to surrender to Christ and a need to focus on God’s will for our lives.
The Sabbath afternoon session was composed of a special program in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of ASI. Mark Finley, Steve Dickman, Charles Starr, and Ted Wilson presented a fascinating history of Seventh-day Adventist self-supporting work. Charles Starr explored the story of E.A. Southerland, Percy Magan, and the founding of Madison College, while Steve Dickman shared the story of how Madison College impacted his family and led to the founding of Harbert Hills Academy. Mark Finley and Ted Wilson shared deeply personal accounts of how self-supporting institutions such as Madison and Wildwood shaped their lives and ministry.
The ASI convention came to a close on Sabbath evening with a powerful message from Kyle Allen, ASI’s secretary/treasurer, who shared the story of Christ calling His disciples from their fishing nets, and called delegates to make a complete commitment to and His work here on earth.