“I Will Go”
Students and young adults from throughout theSouth American Division gathered on the campus of Universidad Adventista del Plata(UAP), or River Plate Adventist University, to emphasize spending a year in missionary service as part of their education. “I Will Go 2.0” was the theme of the September 5-7, 2013, event.
The conference, which drew more than 1,000 participants, including 300 young Adventist professionals, was abuzz with commitments to missionary service, as dozens responded to a video call direct from Moscow by Guillermo Biaggi, an Argentine Seventh-day Adventist pastor who currently heads the church’s Euro-Asia Division, for volunteers to serve in Kyrgyzstan, one of the former Soviet Union republics. Students from other South American Division schools—Chile Adventist University, the Adventist University of São Paulo(UNASP), and Colombia Adventist University—also attended.
Mike Ryan, a general vice president of the Adventist world church, described the scene: “Well, they were expecting that there might be three or four, people just crowded up to the front. They all wanted to go! They aren’t sure how they’re going to get there, but the point was that they all wanted to go.”
According to Ryan, UAP president Oscar Ramos cast a wider vision for missionary involvement from Adventist educational institutions: “Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if every Seventh-day Adventist college and university in the world would pick one country in the 10/40 window?” Ramos said, “We’re running 110-plus colleges and institutions. There are 70 some countries located in the 10/40 window, and if everybody picked one, at least you could have a supply of young people continually going in there to make a difference, do something, and work in ministries.”
Carlos Gill, Argentine Union president, opened the event by saying to students, “Your passion determines your mission.” He encouraged students to take up the call to world service.
“I see a missionary movement; I see young people who are being awakened by the [Holy] Spirit to become more deeply involved in the mission, but not only in the mission here with us, but to the ends of the earth. Now, the ‘ends of the earth’ is simultaneous, because we can never pretend to finish first here and then end there. I perceive that God is awakening a movement that looks beyond their own local needs and, despite the challenges, looks further, to the ends of the earth, where there are cultures, entire villages, that do not even know the word ‘Jesus’ and nothing about Jesus.”
One unique aspect of UAP’s educational program is that the school’s medical students often take one year of missionary service as their required “social service” project in order to obtain a medical degree.Middle East and North Africa Union president Homer Trecartin, who attended the event, made an appeal for volunteer’s at Middle East University’s “center of influence” in Beirut, Lebanon, and many students responded.
—Mark A. Kellner, news editor, with reporting from Bill Knott and UAP’s La Agenda Digital