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An Interview with Joshua Vazquez, Spirit Lake Outreach Coordinator, April 2015

Josh, you’ve been here since December of last year, serving as the Spirit Lake Seventh-Day Adventist Church Outreach Coordinator. You were born and raised in Florida. Idaho must be quite a change for you. How have you adjusted?

I actually came here from Michigan, where I served as a Bible Worker for 11 months. Coming from Michigan was a good starting point. I love the climate here! It is way better than Michigan! I love the scenery, nature, mountains, and lakes here. Florida has lots of lakes, too, but they are not as clean as the ones in Idaho.

It is different, living in a church, but I like my living quarters. I can’t be late for service! Furthermore, the church is not in a bad spot, right in town, which makes it easy to get places. In Michigan, I lived pretty far out. It was 15 to 20 minutes from the place I lived to where I worked. In Spirit Lake, it is easier to be on-call if someone needs something.

Photo: Josh being introduced to the Spirit Lake congregation by Pastor Dayv Lounsbury.

What are your goals as Outreach Coordinator?

My goal is to bring the church and the community closer to Christ. I want to achieve this by getting the church family involved with the community outreach efforts, not just doing all the work by myself. By having church members with connections in the community, if I get called somewhere else, people will have connections established and can continue the outreach work.

I am trying to meet the needs of everyone that I can. I want to help Spirit Lake get healthier and more active.

Also, I want to spread the three angels’ messages.

What do you think the biggest community needs are?

Oh, my! Where do I start? Everyone’s got different needs. I have seen a lot of health problems here, and a lot of poverty. I see a lot of junk in many people’s yards. It is a different crowd here than Michigan, where everyone was well-to-do and had their own religion. It is the complete opposite here. People are not well-to-do, and lots of people don’t have Christ in their life. I sense an emptiness in the town.

How are you coordinating with other churches in this area?

The only one that I really coordinate with is the Hayden SDA Church. It has a youth group who want to get out and do outreach. However, I think all of our churches need to coordinate as a Seventh-Day Adventist movement, not just the Spirit Lake church. We are all family and we need to work together.

What is a typical day in the life of an Outreach Coordinator?

I start the day thinking of new ways to do outreach, and sometimes I work on sermon preparation. I do planning and coordinating for classes. So far, I have helped set up cooking, exercise, and gardening classes. I make connections wherever I can. On average I meet with 2 to 4 people each day, sometimes with couples, and I usually meet people in their homes. Some are church members, and some I met initially by knocking on doors. When knocking, a typical response is, “No, I’m not interested. I’ve got all I need.” However, some people are interested. The first day that I started knocking on doors, I got 6 positive responses. Whenever my schedule permits, I knock on doors. Although I’m also supposed to meet with the pastor every week, we both are very busy and this has not been happening as frequently as it should.

What Bible messages speak strongest to you, guiding your work here?

Mark 6
34: And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Luke 13
10: And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
11: And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12: And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13: And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

The most important thing is that even though Jesus was in the middle of teaching, he had so much compassion for the woman that meeting her need was more critical to him than the lesson he was teaching.

So many times, we want to give people Christ via books, audio, video, or Glow tracts, but we don’t stop to meet their needs. We just feed them information. I think this is where we fail. In Ministry of Healing, Ellen White says (page 19, fourth paragraph): “During his ministry, Christ devoted more time to healing the sick than to preaching.”

What have been some of your most memorable experiences so far?

I try to imitate the life of Christ, by meeting the needs of people, helping heal them and then watching God work in their lives. Although I know what is going on, they have no idea. Most people start to clean when the Holy Spirit starts working in them. If a house needs cleaning or repair, it starts happening. When people put Christ in their lives, it puts new meaning in their lives in the way they get motivated to positive actions.

Thank you, Josh!