Rick McEdward Elected MENA President
McEdward returns to home of his youth.
By Andrew McChesney
Rick McEdward, the new president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Middle East and North Africa Union (MENA), remembers that as a teen he watched, fascinated, as streams of people disembarked from ships in the Saudi port of Jeddah for the annual hajj.
More recently McEdward felt a sense of awe as he walked the bustling streets of Istanbul, Turkey, and as he stood high on a hill above Middle East University, gazing at the sprawling metropolis of Beirut, Lebanon. A single dilemma filled his thoughts: How could each of those people be reached with the love of Jesus?
“We have a burden to be a light that shares light. How are we going to be a light?” McEdward said. “We all need to know the glory and love of God in our lives, and I would love to see that displayed in a wonderful way here.”
The question became even more personal for McEdward after he was elected in April as president of the Middle East and North Africa Union, a region that has a half billion people and is one of the most difficult places in the world to share the gospel.
World church leaders elected McEdward to swap positions with Homer Trecartin, who asked to return to the United States for health and family reasons. Trecartin and his wife, Barbara, served from the union’s headquarters located beside Middle East University for the past four years.
McEdward, a longtime church planter, most recently served as director of the Adventist world church’s Global Mission Centers for World Religions and associate director of the Office of Adventist Mission. He is married to Marcia McEdward, the General Conference nurse, and they have two young adult children.
“We are so grateful to Homer and Barbara for their incredible spiritual, administrative, and mission contribution to the work in the MENA area of the world,” said Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church. “We praise God for the advances made and that continue to be made,” Wilson said. “We are grateful that Rick and Marcia have accepted this new and important assignment.”
For McEdward, moving to the Middle East is like returning to the home of his youth, a place filled with warm memories of kind people and a newfound relationship with Jesus.
McEdward, 50, grew up in an Adventist family in Seattle, Washington. But at the age of 12, he moved with his family to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where his father landed a job as an X-ray technician at a large military hospital. As far as the family knew, they were the only Adventists in the city. The house that McEdward would call home for the next five years stood on the sandy shores of the Red Sea, where he would see large ships offload Muslims on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. On the shore of the Red Sea he developed a personal relationship with Jesus.
“Part of that was witnessing the generosity of our neighbors who were not from a Christian background,” he said. “They were so loving and so kind to us Americans. That pointed me toward my own selfishness and led me to ask the Lord to deal with it.”
McEdward received his undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College in 1990 and his Master in Divinity from Andrews University three years later. He completed a doctorate in missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2012.
Looking ahead, Trecartin, 60, said Marcia McEdward could play an essential role in the region and urged Rick McEdward to take her along on trips. “Let her understand what you are doing, and she will minister to people you can’t minister to,” he said.