The “Adventists in the City Reality Show” program is a public relations program for Sabbath School to be given as a special program on Friday night or Sabbath afternoon. Focusing on the Sabbath School goal of outreach, the program draws church members into the realities of life in the inner city. The program goal is to help Seventh-day Adventists support one another in peeling away social, cultural, and religious facades to discover their natural tendencies, natural drives, toward good or evil, toward God, or toward self.
Scene 1: “On a Mission”
Location: The LA Mission, downtown Los Angeles, Calif. Five Adventists:
- Charles: A church elder who lives in an affluent community north of Atlanta.
- Brian: A successful yuppie, commutes to worship in a low-to-middle income community. He lives in an upscale neighborhood in East Manhattan, New York.
- Brenda: A nonpracticing Adventist, an entrepreneur in Hollywood.
- Shirley: Recent Ph.D. graduate, college counselor, lives in a gated community in Seattle; church is one mile from her home.
- Tina: Procurement specialist and single parent from the suburbs of Philadelphia, starting her own business as a financial planner.
Narrator(speaking to the audience): Welcome to “Adventists in the City,” the newest reality show on UPN. This show brings Adventist Christians to the inner city of Los Angeles to experience firsthand some of the ministry opportunities that would be available to Jesus in the 21st century. Our participants will spend 48 hours living homeless. They check in at LA Mission, a co-ed shelter located downtown on San Pedro Ave., at 5:30 p.m. and must vacate the building by 6:30 a.m. every morning.
(Speaks to the participants.)A quick review of your instructions:
- Make a friend.
- Help someone solve a problem.
- Do a random act of kindness without using money, a cell phone, or a vehicle.
Scene 2: At the LA Mission in downtown Los Angeles
Charlie:I am looking forward to this experience to gain more knowledge about homeless people and how I can serve them.
Brian:I really didn’t expect that we would actually stay overnight in a shelter. I thought we would tour the facilities, maybe help serve dinner—or something like that.
Brenda:I’m concerned about my belongings. I can’t wear my good watch down here.
Tina:My mom goes to shelters all the time to feed the homeless, but she’s never gone this far.
Shirley(Covers her nose with her shirt sleeve)What is that smell? Where is that smell coming from? I have asthma. I don’t think I can tolerate this experience!
Homeless Person:Wha cha look’n at? You never seen a homeless man before?
Tina:Excuse me. I wasn’t looking at you, sir.
Homeless Person:I saw you staring at me! Don’t lie!(Holds up a sign bearing only red Xs and walks away.)
Tina(visibly shaken) I wasn’t looking at him. I was trying to hold my breath. That smell that Shirley mentioned was coming from him.
Shirley(whispers to Tina) I don’t think we are going to make it through the night.
Brian:Let’s just get checked in. I think dinner is in half an hour.
Charlie:Dinner? We have to eat here? The New Otani Hotel is just down the street. Can’t we just go down the street and enjoy a good meal before we check in?
Brian:If we wait to check in, all the beds may be taken. Did you see the crowd in line outside? We are lucky to be on this side of the door, man. Let’s just do this.
Scene 3: Breaking the Ice
(In a huge dining hall, the five Adventists are huddled together.)
Charlie:Christ died for each person in this shelter, but they will never know that if we remain in our comfort zones, returning tithes and offering, and enjoying fellowship with the believers.
Brian:Yeah, when it comes down to it, we find creative ways to pretend we follow Jesus without really coming to understand what it means to be His disciple.
Charlie:Our sacrifice capabilities are so limited, man. When we go out and help others, the sacrifice is so small. His ideal is so far from reaching for us because we don’t want to stretch ourselves to the point of being just like Christ. That’s why He died. It was for our selfish sins.
Brenda:Wow! That line moved so fast, these shelter people have an incredible system.
Tina:Yeah, but did anybody tell them that we are Adventist and we don’t eat “the other white meat—pork.”
Shirley:What’s your point, Tina? You’re not Adventist here. Here, you’re homeless and hungry.
Sally Butler © 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists