December 22, 2005

Pastor Jan Paulsen's 2005 Year-end Message

Following is a transcript of the 2005 year-end greeting as recorded by Pastor Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States:

Dear friends, brothers and sisters in Christ,

1550 paulsenmessage capnother year is ending. Time seems to pass so quickly. We've come to the Season when men, women and children around the world remember the birth of Jesus. Hopefully we take time to reflect on what that gift means to each of us. This is a time of peace, goodwill, and hope. And, yet, sadly these seem in short supply in so many parts of the world.

Inevitably we look back on 2005 and reflect on what it has given us. There are clearly things we wish were not there. At this season last year Southern Asia was devastated by a tsunami; and we hardly had time to recover from that destructive disaster and nature strikes again, this time as Hurricane "Katrina" in the Gulf of the United States; and just a few weeks ago an earthquake struck in the remote mountainous regions of northern Pakistan. Even though it is difficult to rebuild the lives of tens of thousands of families traumatized by these events, we are grateful for the generous support for the victims of these disasters - support which in our church are channeled through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.

However, when I look back on 2005 I find much that brings me joy and thankfulness. I am thankful for colleagues and friends; for Kari and the children - yes, and the grand-children; for an opportunity to serve the Lord and his church; and I am thankful for God's continuous presence and for the strength that His presence gives.

1550 paulsen linkI am thankful that the life of this church, which we love, does not depend on one person; it is God's to look after and we are privileged to partner with him in service. I am also immensely thankful for the large number of dedicated lay people who give of their best as they partner with the Lord and with those of us in leadership assignments to make the mission of the church effective. I honor you for what you do.

2005 was the year when several thousands of our church members met in St. Louis for what we know as the General Conference Session. We came away from that with a clear mandate to be even more deliberate in focusing on Mission; and I am especially delighted that we also gave a signal that women and youth must be full and equal partners in the life and witness of the church. We believe that the Spirit led us in this. It is now our responsibility to make sure that it works.

As we enter the New Year, evangelism, in all possible shapes and forms, will be high on the agenda of the church. "Tell the World" is the motto we chose to describe a vision of an inclusive, wide-reaching mandate for involvement in witness by the global church. We are not just a 'preaching' community. We are here to help and heal in practical ways.

I returned just a few days ago from Africa where I was confronted by the three huge challenges which humanity faces particularly in Africa: Poverty, HIV/AIDS and malaria. I visited several hospitals, and I think especially of one with 300 beds, but mostly filled with people who carried the HIV virus or suffered from malaria, but were too poor to pay for their service; they just had nothing to pay with. Our hospitals, working under the motto: "We care, but God heals" will take them in and give them the help they need, even the very poorest. Why? Because that is what Christ would do.

Whether they are poor, carry the HIV virus, or whatever, they are loved by our Lord. It is our duty to express that love, and to give them dignity and value as human beings. That is also our mission.

As we enter a New Year, not knowing how many more of these we will have, I urge you to stay close to the Lord and to look after your spiritual life. We are on a pilgrimage, and one day it will be over. "We have this hope", and we have His promises.

Let us remember to pray for each other. I need your prayers as I will give of my best to serve the Lord.

I pray that the Lord will give each of us much joy and many blessings in the New Year. And I leave you with His promise: "Behold, I am coming soon! And My reward is with me." (Rev. 22:12)