The “Edinburgh 2010: Witnessing to Christ Today” mission conference in Scotland celebrated a landmark in the history of modern Christian missions. And, as they were 100 years earlier at the first Edinburgh conference, Seventh-day Adventists were involved in many aspects of the proceedings.
From June 2 to 6, about 300 delegates representing the full spectrum of Christian denominations met to remember the historic Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910, and to reflect on mission during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
HISTORIC MISSION CONFERENCE: Ganoune Diop, director of the Adventist Church’s Global Mission Study Centers, presents at the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference in June.Edinburgh 1910 had many outcomes: the large body of study materials produced by that event facilitated ongoing scholarly study about Christian mission. Some new mission journals were started and seminaries increased their mission courses. The ecumenical movement traces its roots to the conference, even though the focus in 1910 was not theological dialogue. Sadly, the two world wars, the Great Depression, Communism, ecumenism, secularism, and the resurgence of non-Christian world religions have all undercut the great progress anticipated in 1910.
The state of the world and the church changed a lot between 1910 and 2010. In 1910 the church was mostly European and American, while by 2010 Christianity was truly a global religion. At the 1910 conference the 1,200 delegates were predominantly Protestant Europeans and Americans, with only a few others included. In 2010 the organizing committee attempted to include among the 300 delegates representatives from the full range of denominations and ethnicities.
The program included worship, small group fellowship and prayer, plenary sessions, and study sessions on nine different themes. John Bell, of the historic Iona Community, led the diverse group in singing scores of songs in many languages from different lands. Dana Robert, mission historian at Boston University, presented the plenary “Mission in Long Perspective.” One statement that reverberates from her paper was: “In 1910 we mourned the fact that only one third of the world was Christian. Today we rejoice that one third of the world is still Christian.”
As the main sessions drew to a close, the delegates discussed, then approved, a “Common Call.” The discussion had points of special interest for Adventists. First, one delegate requested a statement against “sheep stealing,” or “proselytism.” The group responded with a resounding silence and the request was not approved. Instead, speakers spoke repeatedly for active evangelization. Second, the group approved the addition of a statement about Christ’s soon return.
The final meeting took place in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall, where the 1910 conference had met. The large Nigerian choir, the Indian pantomime choir, and a sermon by the archbishop of York (a Ugandan) demonstrated how much global Christianity has changed since 1910. The historic Assembly Hall venue prompted deep reflection about Christian mission—past, present, and future.
UNITED IN SONG: Delegates to the conference joined voices in song during the conference’s worship services.The Seventh-day Adventist Church was represented at both Edinburgh conferences. In 1910 L. R. Conradi, General Conference vice president for the European Division, was joined by W. J. Fitsgerald, British Union Conference president, and W. A. Spicer, General Conference secretary and Foreign Mission Board member. They represented an Adventist membership of about 90,000.
The 2010 conference, like the one in 1910, was ecumenical in the sense of being multidenominational, but not in the sense of seeking “unity” through theological compromise. The main focus was the conversion of non-Christians. Because Adventists, like many others at the 2010 conference, are not part of the ecumenical movement, participation in ecumenical events puts us on guard. McVay spoke of his participation as a “bracing, uncomfortable at times, but stretching and broadening experience.” He found special satisfaction in a feature about Andrews Memorial Hospital in Jamaica titled “A Seventh-day Adventist Witness.” Doss believes Adventist participation could “break down prejudice and create openness to Adventism that can only benefit the mission of our church.” The delegates could observe and learn much about the challenges of doing mission in different contexts and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of different methods and approaches.
Later, Dana Robert reflected on Edinburgh 2010. She said she was amazed by the convergence of thinking about the nature of mission. The past century has seen much conflict over the relationship of evangelism and social action (medical care, disaster relief, education, etc.) in mission, with people taking extreme opposing positions. Adventists have mostly avoided the debate because of our conviction that mission following Christ’s model addresses human needs and then calls for conversion. Adventists can find satisfaction that their wholistic view of mission is now the view of many other Christians.
Pray for me so that I may find an Adventist church here in Marrakesh in Morocco. I just arrived here from Burundi.
Please pray for my son, who is an alcoholic and drug user.
Pray for me—I have concerns at work and with family. Thanks for your help.
Please pray for us. I am one of the youth in our local church who are active. I have been given the responsibility of helping with Pathfinders and the communication department. We are facing challenges in getting uniforms and running a fair.
I also need prayer for my family, school exams I am preparing for, and for employment.
My friend lost her husband because of a motorcycle accident. He was 26, and they have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. Please keep them in prayer.
Angela, United States
I want to study theology, but the problem is finances for study at the Adventist university in Mudende. May the Lord help me and respond in His mercy.
Milliam, Democratic Republic of Congo
Two of the most positive emotions in our human experience are thanksgiving and joy. They promote health and bring vitality to our entire system. The late world renowned scientist, Hans Selye of Montreal, once said that of all the emotions gratitude is the most powerful in reducing stress and promoting longevity. We don’t meet many healthy people in the latter years of their lives who have a sour disposition. Have you ever noticed that you are naturally attracted to people who live a life of thanksgiving? You may never have met them before, but you’re naturally drawn to them. In this month’s study we will discover what the Bible says about living with a grateful heart and a thankful spirit.
1 Read Psalm 95:2, 3. Describe David’s source of rejoicing and thanksgiving. Compare this with Psalm 26:6, 7.
2 What did David believe at a very existential level that kept him in a spirit of gratitude and praise? Read Psalm 71:6.
3 Describe the link Paul made between grace and thankfulness in 2 Corinthians 9:14; 15? Is grace always enough to be thankful for—even in difficult and trying times?
4 How all-encompassing was this spirit of praise and thanksgiving for Paul? What was Paul’s attitude, even when facing unusual trials? “Giving thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
5 Besides praising God for His goodness, what other trait did Paul cultivate as a source of praise? “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God?” (1 Thess. 3:9). “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8).
Paul looked for the good in the people around him, and developed an attitude of thanksgiving for their friendship. In the passages above he expresses his thanksgiving that the churches at Rome and Thessalonica were faithful to the cause of Christ. What a positive trait to cultivate!
6 What additional concept led David to be thankful? Is this still relevant in the twenty-first century? “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of Your wondrous works” (Ps. 26:7). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps. 139:14).
In this month’s lesson we have studied the attitudes of two significant Bible characters, David and Paul. Their hearts were filled with thanksgiving because they knew that in spite of whatever happened to them, God was still in control. They looked away from the challenges of this life to God’s works and His Word. They praised Him for His goodness revealed in creation and for the friendships He brought into their lives. They praised God not because they didn’t have any trials, but in spite of their trials. They cultivated thankful hearts and joyous attitudes.
Their lives were a tribute to God’s amazing grace. We, too, can live lives of joyous thanksgiving and praise to the One who created us and everything in this world; the One who has given us redemption through Jesus Christ, brought wonderful friends into our lives and is planning an eternal home in heaven for us. These are powerful reasons to, “rejoice in the Lord always.”
The neighbors didn’t want a Seventh-day Adventist church anywhere near their steep mountainside community. No way!
One of them filed a lawsuit to keep the church away. Another began a “talking” campaign, hoping to convince eve-ryone that a new church on the vacant lot was a very bad idea.
But nothing worked. The court ruled in favor of the Adventists, and one of the closest neighbors, Señor Orlando, changed the conversation to “Well, someone could be building a bar on that lot; I’d much rather hear hymns and sermons than drunken carousing next door.”
One day 26 teenagers—Maranatha Ultimate Workout volunteers—showed up to raise a church building on the vacant lot. Most of the neighbors frowned and slammed their doors. One even threatened to move away.
Señor Orlando came to watch, to check out the construction quality, and to see if kids could really accomplish anything meaningful. “I thought the building would be crooked,” he said, “but they’ve put it up perfectly!”
Not content with just building a One-Day steel-and-concrete church, the volunteers invited all the neighborhood children to an afternoon Vacation Bible School. Scores came, played soccer, sang Jesus songs, learned new Bible stories, made “forever” friends, gave their hearts to God, and brought their parents to the evening evangelistic series.
Two weeks later neighbors were inviting the volunteers to their homes and leaving their doors open so they could hear the church music.
“I like having an Adventist church next door,” said Señor Orlando.
Network of Nurture Tracing the factors that shape Adventist identity
By Ted N. C. Wilson
Who or what has shaped your identity as a Seventh-day Adventist? Why have you chosen to be a part of this worldwide movement? And—directly to the point—how do we create a network of nurture that will encourage young people to develop a strong faith and identity as Seventh-day Adventists?
These are important questions every Adventist ought to think about.
Early Positive Influences My own choice to be a Seventh-day Adventist was shaped by many things and many people, all brought together by God to help influence me to be a part of His remnant people. Some of the individuals whose faces rise up in my memory will certainly never know this side of heaven the impact that they had in steering my young life toward commitment to the church.
Harry Baerg, an artist for Guide magazine many years ago, was my Sabbath school teacher, and a most fascinating person. Harry was an amazingly talented illustrator: several generations of young Adventists and their parents treasured his illustrations in church periodicals and on the back page of Guide magazine. He brought many interesting things to class week by week that stirred my curiosity—puzzles, animal stories, surprises. We always looked forward to coming to Sabbath school each week because of a talented, prepared teacher.
Another person who shaped my life was a missionary physician, Dr. Roy Cornell, who worked at the Benghazi Adventist Hospital in Libya when I was a boy growing up in Egypt. While caring for patients during a polio epidemic, he contracted polio and became paralyzed. As a hobby, he had for years played the clarinet, but since he was no longer able to play, he gave his beautiful Buffet clarinet to me after we returned to the United States from mission service in Egypt. That gift helped change my life. With his high-quality instrument in hand, I started taking clarinet lessons and became active in the Columbia Union College orchestra while I was still in grade school. We also had a small orchestra at my home church in Takoma Park, Maryland. The group enjoyed getting together each week to play in the junior Sabbath school.
These seemingly chance associations were not, in fact, chance at all: God used these individuals to lead me to identify with His church. Fifty years later I still remember and treasure the associations, the encouragement, and the relationships that tied me to other believers.
In the Church Lessons learned in Sabbath school and church are certainly important, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the impact of even shorter encounters. The kinds of interactions that are probably the most meaningful are not long, drawn-out tutorials, but brief words of encouragement and smiles from those whom youth respect and admire.
My own story underlines this principle: Pay attention to younger people. Smile at them and say their name. Shake their hand and say, “How are you today? We’re so glad you are a part of our church.” That’s all you have to say, and kids will remember it long afterward.
Admittedly, I grew up in a highly Adventist-oriented community. Not every child has that particular opportunity. Some may find growing up in that kind of community to be restrictive, but I found it to be extremely positive. I found that participating in church activities, Friday-night youth meetings, mission presentations, and evangelistic meetings all helped form my attachment to this Adventist movement. Even when they weren’t designed to “reach” me, those programs made a distinct impression on me. They helped me understand that I belonged to an organization that had dedicated, caring people, worldwide resources, worthy goals, and world-class objectives.
In the School Not every Seventh-day Adventist will have the opportunity or the means to obtain a Christian education, but there’s no doubt from both Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy that attending a church school is the ideal situation to help form that crucial identity of a young believer.
In an Adventist school setting students learn Christian values not only in the ways subjects are taught in the classroom, but also they learn those values on the playground—how to get along; how to respond in conflict; how to be a peacemaker. A Christian educational setting reveals the moral principles and the biblical foundations that ought to guide all social interactions.
Reflecting on my own experience, I realize just how much Christian teachers have influenced my life. All of them made an impact—even when I didn’t recognize it at the time. As an impressionable young person, I looked to them and their instruction to decide how to react in certain situations. I learned to appreciate their dedication and commitment: I wanted to be like them when I grew up.
A School for Every Church There’s no doubt about it: I’m a strong believer in Christian education. I think that every Adventist church ought to have some connection with an Adventist school—either their own or in a cooperative venture with nearby Adventist churches, even if it is just a one-room school.
As a young pastor I was assigned a small church with fewer than 100 members. At one time a church school had operated there, but it had died out for lack of interest. However, we found a group of dedicated parents who valued Christian education, and so in just eight weeks we reorganized the school and got it equipped. Conference leadership worked with us to obtain a qualified teacher, and we opened the school year with 13 students. That school ran successfully for nearly 40 years, influencing hundreds of students for faith.
Adventist schools are so important because they add a strong fabric to the relationship between child and parent by creating opportunities for involvement with each other, with other families, with school programs, and with other positive activities. Adventist education is a catalyst for creating a network of nurture for young people, whether it’s a small school or a very large one. That total school program, combined with the church’s ministries and youth activities and parental support in the home—that triangle of church, school, and home—is an incredible booster of self-worth, personal development, and improvement. School, church, and home—working together—help youth understand the talents and gifts that the Lord has given them. When parents give their children the gifts of a committed home, active participation in a faithful congregation, and attendance at an Adventist school, they position their children to flourish as citizens in the community and as citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Few things in this world will ever count more for the coming kingdom than operating a church school on behalf of a congregation’s children, and I heartily encourage every Adventist church throughout the world to do everything possible to operate or share in the operation of a Seventh-day Adventist school. The injunction of Scripture is clear: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
What About Preparation for the “Real World”? Education, particularly Christian education, helps youth understand the complexities of a world in which difficult choices will confront them in almost every arena—in relationships, in career selection, in lifestyle, and particularly in living godly, service-oriented lives. Our academies, colleges, and universities give students the foundational understandings that they will need in order to choose wisely amid all the counterfeits. Questions—including challenges to faith—will inevitably arise, and while the school and the church do have a large part to play in securing faith, the most important element of all is the integrity of the Adventist family. If the home isn’t undergirded by a strongly biblical viewpoint and a belief in the Spirit of Prophecy, then the church and the school can work valiantly, but there is no guarantee that they can remedy what the home isn’t providing.
As I was growing up I never heard my parents say one negative thing about the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy: they made only very positive comments. They never discouraged me in my growing relationship with the Lord, but instead always encouraged me and my connection to the church. Their example has blessed me many times over, and it would bless thousands of other families if they adopted it as well. If in our families we refrain from making critical remarks about leaders or sermons or decisions we don’t like, and instead emphasize positive, faith-building things, our children will breathe in an atmosphere of trust that will deepen their identity as committed Seventh-day Adventists. Children are just like sponges: they soak in what they hear and experience at home. When they are prayed with—and prayed for—by parents who understand the importance of forming that special Adventist identity, they will move toward a personal faith that will weather all kinds of difficult life storms.
When There’s Love—and Faith—at Home We don’t need generations of cultural Adventists. What we want is a generation of young people who want to be Adventists because they love Jesus. An important, practical way to encourage that is to spend time in family worship—especially in the evening. We dare not let a favorite activity—a sporting event, a television show, time on the Internet, or conversations with friends—become the evening prayer of Adventist homes. It’s vitally important to stay in close contact with our kids—talking with them, asking how their day went, encouraging them, drawing out their expressions of faith. An evening family worship time is one of the best opportunities through which to impress upon them that they need to connect with Jesus—that He is their best friend.
From a very early age children can gain a real understanding of their relationship with the Lord. Several years ago my wife, Nancy, was enjoying an hour with our 2-year-old granddaughter, Lauren. When Nancy reached for her glasses, little Lauren spoke up and said, “Nani, you don’t need your glasses—you can see Jesus with your heart.”
We want all our young people to see Jesus with their hearts. That’s why we give them every advantage God has made available to us—in the family, in the church, in the school. That’s why we sacrifice, spend time, and rearrange our adult lives—because we know that it is the sum of all the “little things” that helps to form that Adventist identity in our kids. They won’t form that faithful identity just because we did, or by osmosis. The most important legacy we will leave to our children is a positive inclination to freely choose for themselves the faith we have chosen. Nothing we do this side of heaven is more important—and nothing brings greater joy or satisfaction.
Adventist 2010 Giving Remains Faithful in Turbulent Global Economy 2012 budget reallocations free up funding for unreached regions; Hope Channel now separate financial entity
By Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network
Every Sabbath during 2010, Seventh-day Adventist Church members put an average of US$40 million into offering plates worldwide, for an annual total of $2 billion.
“To me, that is a miracle,” world church undertreasurer Juan Prestol told Annual Council delegates during a treasury report at world church headquarters on October 10, 2011.
FINANCIAL UPDATE: Robert E. Lemon delivers the treasurer’s report to Annual Council delegates at church headquarters on October 9, 2011. The world church treasurer said budget allocations for 2012 will respond to growing financial needs in some of the world’s most unreached areas.“No one is forcing anyone to do this. People do it voluntarily because the Lord impresses them to give. This is a tremendous testimony,” Prestol said, particularly amid today’s turbulent economic climate.
Part of that $2 billion in tithes and offerings received worldwide in 2010 is the foundation for the church’s 2012 budget, church leaders said. Delegates voted to budget $166.7 million for the church’s appropriations next year.
One third of the increases in the appropriations budget will go toward outreach, ministry, and leadership to the 10/40 window. The church’s Loma Linda University, South American Division, andInter-American Division were among institutions and entities to see decreased funding as the church frees up money for the largely unreached areas of the world stretching from northern Africa across the Middle East and Asia.
The reallocation, recommended in 2008 by the church’s Appropriations Review Commission, recognizes growing self-sufficiency in some areas, transferring additional funds to meet needs in other regions.
“In the past we have had a tendency to pay financial attention to regions with high membership, but many are now capable of carrying their own weight,” world church treasurer Robert E. Lemon told delegates.
The church is seeing a dramatic shift in funding as Adventist membership worldwide grows. Between 2006 and 2011 church income from outside North America nearly doubled. While tithe from North America still funds a majority of the church’s world budget, the church’s finances are more vulnerable to fluctuations in currency exchange rates than in previous years.
The strengthening of the U.S. dollar against many of the world’s currencies has a “major effect” on the church’s work worldwide, said Lemon. While a strong dollar can cramp the world church budget, regions that receive appropriations in U.S. currency now find that the amount stretches further, offsetting some of the loss, he said. Church financial officers deal with the opposite effect when the dollar weakens.
As the church, especially in the U.S., continues to emerge from a tenacious recession, Lemon said steady tithes and offerings are a blessing. Church members have felt the “strain” of uncertain financial times, but remain faithful, he said.
Tithe returned by members in North America is up 3.5 percent as of August 2011 compared to the same time last year, Lemon told delegates. Outside North America, tithe grew 17 percent in the same time period.
While some of that increase can be attributed to currency exchange rates, tithe in local currency has also seen “substantial increases,” Lemon said.
Likewise, mission offerings from outside North America increased 20.5 percent or $7.2 million, because of actual offering increases coupled with favorable exchange rates, Lemon said.
World church Stewardship Ministries director Erika Puni asked the chair to consider including a line in the approved budget expressing gratitude for the work of local stewardship leaders.
Educating members in biblical stewardship is a “crucial area” of work, said Ted N. C. Wilson. Last year the world church leader challenged regional church leaders to hire full-time stewardship directors. “Some of you have done that, and I believe you are seeing an incredible return on that investment,” Wilson said.
Responding to another delegate’s question, Wilson also pledged to make the church’s financial reports available to the world church in an “easy electronic format.” For members who sacrifice to return faithful tithes and offerings, knowing how the church handles those funds is rewarding and motivating, the delegate said.
Delegates also voted on October 20 to establish the church’s official television network, Hope Channel, as a separate financial entity, and provide it with the appropriate working capital as of January 2012. The network is already separately incorporated.
New Brazil Administrative Region Recognizes Growth, Financial Independence
Top Seventh-day Adventist world church leadership voted October 12 to split the Northeast Brazil Union Mission into two administrative bodies—the Northeast Brazil Union Missionand East Brazil Union Mission.
NEW UNION: A PowerPoint graphic shows the Southeast Brazil Union Conference. Church leaders renamed the union today when they split another union in two, creating a similarly named church region. The new union demonstrates church growth and financial stability in Brazil, church leaders said.The move recognizes burgeoning membership and impeccable handling of finances in the region, church leaders said. It comes on the heels of a similar realignment of the church’s administrative structure in Brazil last year.
The former Northeast Brazil Union Mission is home to almost 340,000 Adventists and a growing network of churches and church-run schools. Membership there has more than doubled since the union was established in 1996. As of July this year, the church in the region welcomed more than 20,000 new believers, or about 3,000 accessions per month.
“This region for us has a strong potential for growth,” said South American Division president Erton Köhler. “The people there are very receptive. We believe that a new union there can give strong support to our church in the region and help fulfill the mission.”
The newly formed Northeast and East Brazil union missions will each begin in 2013 with more than 100 percent of ideal working capital, said world church undertreasurer Juan Prestol. Neither region has any debt, he added, and both are in “exceptional” financial condition. —Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network
Guam-Micronesia Mission Now Part of North American Division
GULFAN SPEAKS: Southern Asia-Pacific Division president Alberto Gulfan addresses the chair of Annual Council regarding the shift of the Guam-Micronesia Mission to the North American Division. Dan Jackson, NAD president, sits nearby.he Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Guam-Micronesia Mission, an administrative region comprising islands in the western Pacific Ocean, will now report to the denomination’s North American Division.
The shift, approved by the denomination’s Executive Committee October 10, moves oversight of the region from the church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which is based in the Philippines.
The mission region includes the United States territories of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.
“Over the years there has been discussion whether it would fit better elsewhere,” said world church undersecretary Myron Iseminger. “Regulations are U.S.-oriented, and many employees come from North America.”
The region is home to roughly 4,500 Adventist Church members. The Adventist Church there also operates numerous elementary and secondary schools, which are staffed largely by student missionaries.
North American Division president Dan Jackson welcomed the move. “We are always happy to cooperate with the world church, and we will embrace the peoples and the ministry of the Guam-Micronesia Mission,” he said.
Southern Asia-Pacific Division president Alberto Gulfan confirmed that his executive committee had made several requests to shift oversight of Guam-Micronesia. That division acquired administrative oversight of the movement’s operations in Pakistan in a territorial realignment on October 9. —Ansel Oliver/Adventist News Network
Middle East Unit Now an Attached Field of World Headquarters
Top leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted October 9 to transfer administrative oversight of church operations in the Middle East from the church’s Trans-European and Euro-Africa divisions to church headquarters.
The newly formed Greater Middle East Union Mission is home to 21 countries and more than 500 million people, and has 2,900 Adventists worshipping in 70 churches and companies.
DIVISION LEADERS: Bertil Wiklander, president of the Trans-European Division, addresses the chair with his support as well as some concerns about the proposal to adjust administrative structure in the Middle East, which includes his division. Behind him, Bruno Vertallier, president of the Euro-Africa Division, waits to speak. The proposal, later passed, also affected his division.Under the new organization, South Sudan becomes part of the church’s East-Central Africa Division, and the church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Divisionwill oversee the Pakistan Union. Culturally, Pakistan can better be served by the division that also serves Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, leaders said.
The church’s Euro-Asia Division will absorb Afghanistan. The world church headquarters will directly oversee the Israel Field and the new Greater Middle East Union Mission. That union mission will also include the Trans-Mediterranean territories. South Cyprus will remain in the Trans-European Division.
After more than 100 years of outreach to the region, data indicates that the mission of the church is moving with challenges in the region, members of the church’s Greater Middle East and Mediterranean Survey Commission said in an October 9 report to Annual Council delegates.
Attaching the “high-priority” Middle East region directly to world church headquarters will enable quicker implementation of projects, commission members said in the proposal. “It would make movement of personnel, funding, and ideas easier across what used to be different division bound-aries,” they said. The realignment would also group countries together that have similar cultures.
Commission members also said the Middle East “should be the focus of the entire church,” citing another advantage for moving regional leadership to oversight by world church headquarters.
In 2010 the church charged the commission with studying Adventist work in the Middle East, with the intent that a territorial realignment might be necessary. A study of historic, demographic, and statistical evidence seems to indicate that the church grows best when overseen by a unified and geographically contiguous body, commission members said.
The Middle East is part of a region called the 10/40 window, where two thirds of the world’s population lives, only 1 percent of which is Christian.
“I want you to think of the incredible challenges in the Middle East,” world church president Ted N. C. Wilson told delegates. “We want to give full credit to the workers already there,” he added.
Bertil Wiklander, president of the Trans-European Division, said he and his team had some reservations about parts of the proposal but would fully support it if approved by the world body.
“We have personal ties to our people in this area, and we have spent much time in prayer with and for them. We have thoroughly enjoyed working in our attached fields and have poured our best time, talents, and resources into it,” Wiklander said.
Euro-Africa Division president Bruno Vertallier said that in recent years the region has redoubled its work in the Middle East and that the administrative shift would be considered difficult for some people.
“Our recommendation is to strongly emphasize the training of local people,” Vertallier said. “We have some wonderful people working there right now, and we must add to them. The great challenge will be to train more people in local fields and give them the best tools possible to meet the needs of Adventists and community members.”
Wilson said the move would signal that the region is a priority for the denomination.
“The Middle East is a unique place,” Wilson said. “We have to take this area of the world field as a special burden. We’re also grateful for what Euro-Africa and Trans-Europe have done to foster and nurture Adventist mission in those areas of the Middle East.”
World church undersecretary Homer Trecartin was later appointed to serve as president of the church’s newly formed Greater Middle East Union Mission; reappointed was Tibor Szilvasi, who will continue in his capacity as union secretary for the region. —Elizabeth Lechleitner/Adventist News Network
In Solomon Islands, More Than 500 Respond to Public Evangelism
In the largest Seventh-day Adventist baptism in Solomon Islands history, hundreds of people joined the church there during a September 2011 public outreach series conducted by evangelist John Carter.
More than 500 people were baptized in the Lunga River near Honiara on September 17, while men with poles stood nearby to push away any crocodiles that swam into the area. Some 10,000 people stood on the riverbank and a nearby bridge to witness the ceremony.
MASS AUDIENCE: Some 32,000 Honiara residents attended the final night of evangelist John Carter’s outreach series in the Solomon Islands during September 2011.Most of the people baptized had come forward during two altar calls at Carter’s meetings, which began September 9 at a soccer stadium in Honiara. Carter spoke about the latest discoveries in astronomy and scientific evidence for the existence of a Creator.
At Sunday night’s final meeting, attendance peaked at 32,000—more than one third of the city’s population. About two thirds of those attending were not Adventist church members, church leaders in the South Pacific said.
The meetings took the city by storm, said Solomon Islands prime minister Danny Philip, who spoke at the final meeting.
“The church in the Solomons has been praying for revival, and it is a joy to see first hand God’s Spirit sweeping across this nation,” said Wayne Boehm, president of the Adventist Church in the islands.
“I continue to hear miraculous stories of people attending these meetings, some of whom have been keeping the Sabbath on their own . . . now coming to these meetings to have their faith affirmed,” he said.
One newly baptized member is the now former president of a Protestant denomination in the Solomon Islands.
“We praise God for the large and enthusiastic attendance at the evangelistic meetings,” Adventist world church president Ted N. C. Wilson said later in an interview. “It’s obvious that many are being drawn to . . . the Bible and its answers for today’s many problems. Truly, Jesus is the only answer to the challenges we face in today’s highly unsettled world,” he added.
Many of the newly baptized members are expected to attend a new church this Sabbath at the Adventist-owned Maranatha Centre in the Solomon Islands, said Boehm.
The church in the Solomon Islands plans to establish a radio network so that every person in the region can continue to hear the church’s message. —Phil Ward/Adventist News Network