The Sabbath of June 16 was a high day as over 7,000 Adventists gathered at IGNITE Campmeeting at the International Centre in Mississauga. Together, visitors of all ages were inspired to ignite their passion for Christ, experience God more deeply, and set the world aflame with His love.
An early morning prayer service set a peaceful, worshipful tone for our 2018 Ontario Campmeeting. Led by conference director Maria McClean, it included hymns of meditation and praise, small group prayers, testimonies, and a visit to the prayer wall—new for 2018.
Next, adult Sabbath school demonstrated what an impactful Sabbath school looks like, from a sharing and caring session to a Q&A with a panel of pastors and lay members to remarkable testimonies. Facilitated by Fitzroy Maitland, the panel simplified complex topics such as the Sabbath, the mark of the beast, and the seal of God.
During the divine hour, visitors in the different segments were blessed by dynamic, Spirit-filled speakers. For adults, Gene Donaldson delivered a powerful message warning against pride, citing Peter’s initial pride when Jesus asked him to cast out his net after a night of unsuccessful fishing. “Pride squeezes out all passion for Christ. Pride can only be confronted by unconditional love—that which came through Christ’s sacrifice,” said Donaldson. Later, when he made an appeal, many people responded by coming forward.
Woven into the more traditional components of the service, actors and musicians from various churches presented pieces illustrating the hope inherent in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Featuring monologues by characters from Bible times and modern days, the drama segment brought a meaningful new element to the divine program.
The much-anticipated Parade of Nations concluded the divine hour with a mass choir coordinated by David Schwinghammer, the conference’s executive secretary. Said Vernon Langdon, conference field representative, “Incorporating it [the Parade of Nations] to reflect part of the theme created a greater impact.” As per the day’s theme “of igniting the passion, then carrying the gospel of the soon-coming Jesus Christ, it symbolized the carrying of the message to the different nations as in Revelation 14:6.”
The youth were treated to messages by three inspirational teen speakers: Gabriela Caballero, who shared her life-changing encounter with Christ at the Friday night service for youth and young adults, entitled “Crave 2018”; Aaron Dyer, the divine service speaker; and Alessandro Coronado, who spoke on Saturday evening. Young adults also benefitted from the ministry of a peer, Paulo Tenorio, a pastor who shared that no matter what we’ve done in our lives, God still loves us and will welcome us home.
For primary-aged children, Sabbath school speakers Anastacia Ferguson-Bansie and Sean Ellis drew out the set themes of self-esteem and God-esteem in an engaging way. Children’s ministry leader Allan Chichester said, “We wanted them to understand that they’re valuable and they can be used as witnesses for Jesus.”
Setting the World on Fire
As the day continued, the focus shifted from igniting a personal passion for Christ to spreading that passion throughout the world. For instance, the adults enjoyed Ontario Conference president Mansfield Edwards’s report on initiatives the conference is taking to “REACH Ontario.”
Speaking of the announcement about the 2019 Earth Day Summit, Attendee Carril Cornelius said, “I especially enjoyed hearing about the updates and new projects on the way, but the biggest highlight was news of the [summit]. I like that the church is willing to talk with the community and let them know what we believe in and why.”
Later, as Jeff Potts presented the homily during the ordination of three pastors, Kevin Donaldson, Robert Greaves, and Christopher Johnson, attendees were inspired to also let God use them fully in their respective callings. Among several pearls of wisdom, based on Scripture and his ministerial experience, he shared, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies those He calls.”
The theme of zealous Christian service continued in the evening. First, Donaldson spoke about Mary of Bethany’s gift of an entire flask of costly alabaster oil (see Mark 14:3–9), calling it “an example of unsolicited love and willing sacrifice because of her passion for Christ.” Then, all attendees were given cards asking them to commit to being a person of influence for Christ and leading at least five people to Christ this year; a total of 579 cards were collected.
Meanwhile, the youth and young adults got a hands-on taste of what it means to spread the love of God through the Compassion initiative, now in its second year. With a 2018 theme of mental health, they had TED Talks on mental wellness during campmeeting and later blessed passersby in the community with mental wellness kits. Akehil D. Johnson, Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) leader, enthused, “We wanted people to understand that it’s OK not to be OK. The whole experience was a blessing.”
It was clear to attendees that this year’s extraordinary campmeeting had been planned prayerfully and thoughtfully. “It was very well-organized. The speakers were inspirational, and I enjoyed what God blessed them with in sharing with us. It’s something that I’m gonna remember for quite a while,” said attendee Lenny Grant.
Beyond the worship experience, the day was a joyous reunion for many. Said one church member as she hugged an old friend, “This is what I love about campmeeting.” Victoria Lim, a university student from Scarborough Filipino Church concurred, “What I really enjoy is that there are so many people I haven’t seen in a long time, a lot of personalities, all coming together to worship God. It’s like a taste of heaven.”