Memorial Day Message

Boy-memorialdayMemorial Day gives us the opportunity to remember those who have given their lives in service for our nation; the selfless men and women, whom through their ultimate sacrifice, have helped to secure our personal and spiritual freedom, as well as an unparalleled way of life. It is because of them that we are able to live without terror, worship without fear, give without restraint, and serve without limit.

Today, we honor our fallen heroes, among whom we count many Seventh-day Adventists, who proudly served our country. We pray for the comfort and hope of their surviving families and encourage our members to reach out with compassion to these fathers, mothers, boys, and girls, letting them know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and that of their loved ones.  On this Memorial Day, I encourage you and your church to make a call, sign a book, hug a family member, and say thank you to those who have served, still serve, or mourn the loss of one of our heroes.

We also look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus, the time, when deployments will end and war will be no more, when death will ultimately be defeated, and peace will reign forever. 

– Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.

Who Can the Church Love?

Joanne, Jose III, & Joel Cortes speak with a gentleman in the streets of Hamilton, Bermuda

The ministry of Jesus was a ministry of inclusion, not exclusion, and that makes perfect sense. After all, what would be the point of dying for people and then excluding them from experiencing God’s love and the opportunity of accepting His grace? Doing that would be inconsistent, not smart, and perhaps a waste of Jesus’ time on earth and of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It is simple and Jesus knew it, you cannot save people by excluding them. Jesus was crystal clear, if He was going to have a shot at saving humanity, they needed to see His love for them. That’s why He came and dwelt amongst us and became one of us.

I met an 18 year old, who shocked and saddened me when he unapologetically told me that he had found more evidence for Satan’s existence than for God’s existence in his church. When I inquired more about it, he told me a sad story, showed me two tattoos on each side of his neck and added, “no one in my church ever acknowledges me or says anything to me, they look at me funny and move on, as if I had a contagious disease, I definitely don’t belong there.” 

I saw, with my own eyes, how a young lady was asked to leave church on a Sabbath afternoon because she was wearing pants. When my wife and I stood up for her, she told us it had been a while since she had last been to church, but feeling unworthy and inadequate to come to the morning “Worship Service” she had decided to come in the afternoon. We were holding a special prayer session for an upcoming Evangelistic Series we were about to launch in that area. As soon as she walked in, she was told she could not enter the sanctuary wearing sweatpants. Turns out she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and trying to hide her belly.

Who Can the Church Love?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love guys with tattoos, ladies who wear pants to church, girls who are pregnant out of wedlock, and people who smell like smoke, among others, who can the Church of Jesus love? What is the purpose of the church then? Why do we even exist?

If the Church of Jesus cannot love all sinners, like Jesus did, then it is not a Church, and it is not of Jesus. Jesus loved all sinners and was always ready to minister to them, regardless of their sin. If you don’t love them, it will be very hard to reach, retain, or reclaim them.

Jesus did not baptize all the people He healed, fed, and counseled; yet He still healed them, took away their hunger, and blessed them because He loved them.

Is Your Church Filled with People of Different Walks of Life?

If your church is not filled with people of different backgrounds and walks of life, it is perhaps because they don’t feel that your church is a safe place for them. Jesus loved tax collectors, prostitutes, Jews, Gentiles, poor, rich, children, men, women, and Pharisees. This is why people of different walks of life approached Him and followed Him.

We, the Church of Jesus, must be willing to love people who sin differently than we do. Jesus died for them, as much as He died for me and you.

Where Do We Draw the Line?

Where do we draw the line? The answer is simple, we draw the line where Jesus did. When a woman, who had just been caught in the act of adultery, was brought to Him, and her accusers looked for approval from Jesus to stone her, He said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone…” Then He told her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

We are much more like Jesus when we are inclusive with other sinners. We reflect His character best when the doors of our churches are opened to people of different walks of life and backgrounds. We are way more effective reaching, retaining, and reclaiming North America when we are filled with the Love of God and the Compassion of Jesus.

Let’s just try it! Jesus did!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr.

 

Everything

A few days ago, I walked into our Division President’s office with a question: “What would you like to see happen in North America, when it comes to Evangelism?” His answer was quick, sharp, and brief. He replied: “EVERYTHING.” Pastor Jackson’s reply has stayed with me since that day and I would like for it to stay with you, “EVERYTHING.”

When it comes to Evangelism and Outreach in the Adventist Church across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Guam and the Micronesian Islands, EVERYTHING goes. Yes, you read it right. If it Reaches, Retains, and Reclaims individuals, families, and communities for Jesus, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING goes, it must be tried and it must be used. After all that’s what Jesus did, and our Church is His Church, and we are His followers.

This means that subscribing to only one or two methods to reach, retain, and reclaim our communities and cities for Jesus is no longer the norm. This means that creative outreach ideas must not be shut down by a few people, who know the power of the infamous phrase, “we don’t do that here.” Evangelism needs to stop being just an event or a non-event, which happens during a season, in which only some participate, and become the lifestyle of all Adventists, 24/7, 365 days a year. It means that there is work beyond the four walls of our church buildings; it is perfectly appropriate and smart to minister outside, where most people are. Those who are doing it are seeing the difference.

It means we must continue to enhance what has worked, abandon what is not working, duplicate what is working for others in our context, and find ways to become more innovative and effective in the fulfillment of our mission. Each Adventist disciple of Jesus in North America, should get a chance to experience the joy of sharing Jesus daily and seamlessly, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or language. For that to happen we must open up many evangelistic avenues and opportunities, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This means that if you cannot Preach or Teach, there’s got to be a way for you to Reach someone, somehow.

We must await the Second Coming of Jesus being relevant, with all hands on deck, moving in the same direction, without in-fighting, although our methods may differ; remembering that unity in mission is paramount while multiple methods are necessary. Let us continue to pray and work for a spirit of unity and grand-collaboration that extends from our youngest members, pastors, evangelists, administrators, and to our most renown and influential Adventist entities. People, churches, schools, ministries, hospitals, and institutions who are the eyes, the heart, the hands, the feet, and the mouthpiece of Jesus daily and constantly, become blessings to humanity and huge magnets for people. Jesus did that while on this earth, and now calls you, me, and our church to do the same in this so called Post-Christian era.

As we Reach, Retain, and Reclaim North America together, please count on our support, prayers, and love. Our team exists to empower and support you!

Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Director and Leads Evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America.

Visit to Greater New York Adventist Community Services Center in Preparation for Back2School Compassion Bash

Just around 2 AM this morning, my oldest son Jose III and I returned from a brief trip to New York City. During the Trip we stopped at the Greater New York Adventist Community Services Center, where the preparations for our upcoming Back2School Compassion Bash are been made. During our time there, we were able to check on the items which have already arrived and confirm the ones which will be arriving today (over 200 boxes of supplies arrive today). I also thanked Pastor Ruben Merino, the Director there, and his staff, Oscar, Iris, & Rasandi for their great support and hard work.

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Compassion Goes Viral

We envisioned a version of the Compassion Movement. We hoped it would become a lifestyle for many. We prayed it would catch a life of its own and that it would create a positive effect around our union. And, yes, we prayed it would go beyond. We wished it would go viral and just spread around the world. As you read today, just eight months after the official launch of the Atlantic Union Conference Adventist Youth Ministries Compassion Movement, you can be assured it has gone viral individually, as well as corporately.

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