Hope Sabbath School Comes to Bristol
8th November 2018
On Sabbath 27 October, Pastor Derek Morris, known to thousands across the globe as the host of Hope Sabbath School, and the President of Hope Channel International, brought his unique style of Sabbath School to Bristol, at a special Hope Sabbath School Day of Fellowship.
Pastor Morris had been invited to come to Bristol, by local minister Pastor Royston Smith and Bristol Central Sabbath School leader, Prakash Pawar, and as Pastor Morris was coming over to the UK to visit family, he agreed, and a date was arranged.
Bristol has a particularly special place in Pastor Morris' heart, as he revealed that he was born in Bristol, where his parents attended the Lodge Causeway church, before moving to Newbold College, when Pastor Morris was 6 years old. In fact, Pastor Morris still has relatives in Bristol, including his cousin Elizabeth, who attends a Baptist church who came along to the day.
An invitation to all churches went out across Area 2 and further afield, and on the day, the main auditorium, was filled to capacity with over 300 people, while 55 children had their own church services in other rooms. Visitors also came from as far away as Newcastle, Hastings, Walthamstow, Luton, and Croydon. Guests also included Pastor Richard Daly, former Bristol district pastor, and now BUC Communication and Media director, and Pastor Kirk Thomas, BUC Personal Ministries and Evangelism director.
The highlight of Sabbath School, was of course, the Hope Sabbath School class format. This comprised of a panel of 12 church members from the area, selected to represent the diversity of the Church in the UK. They included representatives from Moldova, Philippines, Malawi, Lithuania, Jamaica, St Lucia, England, Italy, and India, among others.
Pastor Morris skilfully guided the panel through the key points of the lesson, asking questions of the panel, with every person taking part. The discussions took in such deep topics, as the nature of unity in the Church, identifying and breaking down the barriers in the Church, and the importance of fellowship. For the section on marriage and family, two couples who were on the panel, explained how important, mutual respect and love were in their marriage, by submitting to one another in Christ.
In addition, several of the panel gave testimonies of how God had led them in their lives, and also how certain people in their churches had been an inspiration and help to them.
For the morning message, Pastor Morris continued on the theme he had started in the Vespers service he took the night before, at Bristol Central. Using Luke 10:2, where Jesus said that "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest", Pastor Morris highlighted some of the distractions which can prevent us from labouring for Christ, and the need to pray (implore, beg, cry out) to God to send out labourers into the harvest, and especially to be willing to go ourselves.
In the afternoon, Pastor Morris explained more about the work of Hope Channel, which now has a global television network with more than 53 channels in different countries, each creating content in their own local language, including one in Brazil, which recently signed up their one millionth Bible study interest.
One common theme which was brought out during the day, was a very clear demonstration of the power of media to influence lives and introduce people to Christ, whether this be through the Hope Channel television stations, Adventist World Radio, or online or traditional media.
Pastor Morris also showed some moving video testimonies of life-changing stories from Hope Channel viewers, interspersed with special musical items. He also gave his own testimony, which included several miracles, including the story of how God can work through the smallest of means, such as by the dropping of a leaflet for Bible studies through his grandparent's door in Bristol, which his father picked up and read, and which eventually led to their joining the Church, and ultimately to him being in the position he is today.
The day was particularly enhanced with special items from a number of artists and groups from around the area. This included part of a Hope Quartet group from the Swindon Portuguese church, and singers such as Bianca Brown, Philippa Smith, and some talented young people from Weston-super-Mare church, Molly and Alastair, and two sisters, Vania and Johanna, along with many others.
In an interview with Pastor Morris on the Friday evening, he commented on the challenges facing the Church, as it has transitioned to a truly global Church, with varying views on a number of topics, but also in the way the demographics and growth of the Church has changed, from the majority of its membership in the United States and Europe, to massive growth in other areas of the globe. Pastor Morris gave an example from the country of Zambia, which has more Seventh-day Adventists than the whole of North America.
Speaking on the issue of how to reach people with the gospel in a post-Christian society, Pastor Morris highlighted the importance of meeting people's needs, as however secular people may be, they always have problems and needs, whether that be for better health, or advice and support on relationships, depression, marriage etc. Whatever people's needs are, we should meet people where they are, find out what they need, and offer them support, guidance and ultimately, hope in Jesus Christ.
There was such a lovely atmosphere throughout the whole day, as so many people from different churches mingled and got to know each other and were challenged and inspired to seek a deeper relationship with God and to be available to be used by Him. It was truly a day to remember, as God was praised and glorified through Bible study, song, music and the spoken word.
[Ian Sabadin, Bristol Central Communications Officer]