Waking up Wyoming, One Believer at a Time.
Gideon Logan is twelve years old and a team member of the Wyoming Waldensians. He is a member of evangelism group of a dozen youth who went on a summer trip to Arizona last year. Their objective was to conduct a Vacation Bible School, as well as evangelistic outreach in Paige, and also do some construction work on the Navajo Reservation.
Appearing at the Wyoming Camp Meeting on July 18, Gideon told a story of a dog that made them opt for an alternative delivery of a leaflet-invitation to a series of evening evangelistic meetings.
“We were simply scared of the dog,” he explained. Assisted by Pastor Ruben Scherencel, two team members were near a home were they wanted to deliver the invitation to evening meetings, "but this dog. There was this dog and we were afraid of it. But we needed to get that leaflet delivered to this house," he continued.
“I came up with an idea to make a paper airplane and send it over the fence. It was perhaps the worse one I ever did,” Gideon smiled and said that surprisingly it went straight landing on the porch. Recollecting the story Gideon sounded surprised as much as he did when the message was delivered.
When the evening came, he got to talk to a family that came to the meeting. When asked how did they hear about the meeting, they said that they found a paper airplane on their porch.
This was one of many stories shared with a congregation of 200 at the 2015 Wyoming Camp Meeting. Pastor Ruben Scherencel was also smiling as he explained that Arizona's 110°F heat would not deter the youth group from their focused program. Scherencel is a pastor of four churches, separated by many miles.
Named after the famous Italian Anabaptists, whose witnessing for Christ became a hallmark of their success, the Wyoming Waldensians also resort to creative methods to witness. The Waldensians in Wyoming came together a few times a year for training sessions on how to preach and share testimonies with the intent to go on mission trips. In 2013 it was Honduras, and Arizona in 2014.
The Waldensians are just one expression of what Awaken Wyoming is about. Individual congregations in Wyoming are hiring Bible workers and utilizing resources at their disposal to respond to what one pastor referred to as, "we gotta get things done here." It became obvious that there is new spirit to turn things a different way in Wyoming.
It takes a variety of dedicated lay people to "wake us all up in Wyoming," as one pastor expressed. It takes cowboys, housewives, retired teachers and an enthusiastic group of youth who are challenged by what is poignantly expressed in a camp meeting theme song, "Awaken Wyoming". Joining a group of ministers, some of whom have seven churches to look after, they are enthused to "wake up children, God is gonna shine.
A sport stadium-style call to action was delivered by the Sage Creek Gospel Band from Carson, and was composed by Ron Hughes, a country gospel musician known in the Adventist Wyoming milieu. It boldly said that "the church is fast asleep," and if we believe that Jesus is coming soon, we need to "wake up Wyoming".
So, we all sang "Awaken Wyoming" with a camp meeting fervor, "Wake up children, God is gonna shine."
"Wake up your heart, Wyoming. Just open your eyes and see." We could not help, but stand and join in: "Wake up your heart, Wyoming." We all tapped our feet, clapped together, and made a serious commitment to ... wake up and join in on making a change in the communities we are invited to, excited about Jesus' second coming.
“This was the best camp meeting I’ve been to in years,” commented Al Williams, assistant to the president for the Awaken Wyoming Ministry, and said that he must have attended 20 of them, clarifying that all camp meetings are different but this one was “especially spiritual. The messages, people spontaneously praying together, and we felt that the Holy Spirit was poured out,” he teared up when recalling the four days at the Mills Spring Ranch.
A feature of the last day at the camp was the baptism of David Deal. His story covers a departure and return to the church he once knew. Forty-two years of separation from his Adventist faith came to a conclusion when he was re-baptized, assisted by members of the Sheridan congregation and their pastor, Gary Force. David’s return to Jesus is a story of miracles, and a journey bearing a testimony that Jesus is not giving up on any of us, Gary said.
Commenting on his experience, Jason Logan, pastor of five Wyoming congregations, whose son Logan shared his airplane testimony, said that at this year’s gathering, he noted an “extra special spiritual atmosphere.” It seemed that attendance was better in all age sections, especially among the youth groups, he added.
“God is working all over Wyoming to prepare it for His soon return,” was an expression that resonated throughout the program. The Awaken Wyoming theme song said it aptly that “weve got to get ready just to leave this old place and we know His love will see us through.”
Ron Hughes and his band sang a call to action, that until then, “yes, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
[Text and photos: Rajmund Dabrowski]