June 28, 2010

With Him . . . for Him . . . by His Power

by Artur Stele, PresidentPresented Sunday evening, June 27, 2010

capTogether with the worldwide ?Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Euro-Asia Division (ESD) worked the past five years under the slogan “Tell the World.” The seven elements of the plan were presented under three subheadings: (1) Every Day With Jesus, (2) Every Day for Jesus, and (3) Every Day by the Power of Jesus.

To finalize the division’s strategic plan, a special gathering of all ESD pastors was called in order to hear the voice of those who are playing the key role in the implementation of any strategy. It was the first-ever gathering of all 1,500 pastors.

1. Every Day With Jesus—Spiritual Growth
Effort has been made to make the Bible and prayer the keys for spiritual growth of every member of the church. Every day the work in all the church offices was stopped at 12:45 for a season of prayer. Every first Wednesday of the quarter was a special day of fasting and prayer. Every church member was encouraged to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year’s time, and the church leaders themselves have set an example in daily reading of the Bible.

2010 1521 page16Special morning and evening devotionals were published, and they were read by church members. For the busy young professionals, the daily devotionals were placed on the Internet, as well as the daily portion of the Sabbath school lessons. Ten books of the writings of Ellen G. White were published and bound in one volume under the title Every Day With Jesus. For those who prefer listening rather than reading, the same 10 books have been presented in audio CD and DVD formats. Zaoksky Bible Translation Institute, under the leadership of Mikhail P. Kulakov, has published a new modern Russian translation of the New Testament with the book of Psalms and the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).

A key role in the area of spiritual growth has been played by the so-called revival weeks in the churches. A special emphasis has been placed on spiritual development of kids and youth through summer camp meetings, training seminars, and Bible knowledge games. As a result, many young people not only regularly started to read the Bible but have memorized entire Bible books. Youth congresses that took place in each union, and also a division youth congress in 2008 with more than 1,500 young people from throughout the division, had a special emphasis on spiritual growth.

The climax of the spiritual growth initiatives was the program initiated by the General Conference called “Follow the Bible.” The traveling Bible was received with great love in churches, government offices, camp meetings, city parks, hospitals, Bible societies, prisons, universities, press conferences, and libraries. The Bible traveled by planes, trains, cars, and various other types of transportation. In many ESD countries this unique Bible has made the church known as a reading church, as the church that follows the Bible. It was a very memorable event when the traveling Bible reached the Adventist college in Bucha, Ukraine. It was the first time in the history of the Adventist Church in ESD that all the retired pastors who served in difficult times, and some of whom were put in prisons for carrying or holding a very small copy of the Bible, came together in one place to celebrate God’s gift of His Holy Word.

2. Every Day for Jesus—Social Work, Personal Evangelism,
and Public Evangelism

With spiritual growth automatically comes the desire to share with others the good news about our loving and soon-coming Savior. A church that is spiritually healthy and growing has the desire to help those who are in need, taking the example from Jesus Himself. Thus, social work—the evangelism of good deeds—has been an intrinsic part of the work of the Euro-Asia Division in the past five years. Our educational institutions played a key role in this work. It is impossible to list all the activities undertaken by our very creative-thinking church members. Here are only some of the programs: children of the streets, rehabilitation centers for those addicted to alcohol and drugs, stop-smoking programs, warm-hands-and-warm-feet programs, food programs, taking care of small children infected by HIV/AIDS, taking care of orphanages, prison ministries, and so forth. A divisionwide program called “Cities of Hope” was initiated and very successfully implemented in many local conferences. The initiative calls for every church member and friends of the church to get a special box in which to gather coins for social programs. On a designated Sabbath, all bring their full boxes to the church, where the funds are dedicated and special social initiatives are started.

GC link divreportsThe church that is socially active cannot be quiet about the One they love, who motivates them to do good things for others. Thus, personal evangelism becomes a natural desire of the Adventist Church. In ESD an emphasis has been placed on the work through small groups. Every quarter special lessons for the small groups have been developed, published, and placed on the division’s Web site. Many church members have gotten involved in the work of the so-called DVD small groups. They share the good news via DVD materials through gathering small groups at home to watch the programs or by distributing the DVD among relatives and friends. Every year ESD has developed and shared 30 to 35 new DVDs with the groups. The DVDs present all kinds of materials, such as Christian films, songs, better-living programs, family-matters programs, Bible-study programs, sermons, and many other interesting materials.

Many church members have been involved in distributing the newspaper called Hidden Treasures. Every month more than 1 million of these papers are distributed throughout the division. The division has developed a special brochure about the Adventist Church titled “A Church Which Lives by Hope.” Every church member was invited to pray for 10 people long in advance of the special event that took place on February 13, 2010, during which our church members visited the people they prayed for or invited them to their homes and to evangelistic meetings.

When most of the church members are involved in personal evangelism, it lays a strong foundation for public evangelistic efforts as well. ESD’s strategic plan calls for setting aside time every winter and spring for the divisionwide evangelistic efforts, with the goal to involve every administrator, pastor, and church member. The preparation process included the development of new materials, prayer lists of those who will be invited to the meetings, and a 50-day prayer marathon. Each department of the church got involved in preparing the soil through literature distribution, health expos, youth and children programs, social programs, and so forth. Then for two weeks each local church conducted an evangelistic effort, which climaxed in a nine-day satellite divisionwide harvest program. Thus, the following satellite programs were held: (1) in 2007, the “Secrets of the Apocalypse,” conducted by Peter Kulakov and uplinked from Kiev, Ukraine; (2) in 2008, “The Way to Happiness and the Way to the Stars (Secrets of the Book of Daniel),” conducted by Galina and Artur Stele in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia; (3) in 2009, “The Bible Still Speaks,” conducted by Moses Ostrovsky and uplinked from Luzk, Ukraine; and (4) in 2010, “Secrets of the Kingdom of God,” conducted by Mikhail and Peter Kulakov in Chisinau, Moldova. 

The year of evangelism in ESD deserves special mention. We have enlarged the initiative to include 20 months of nonstop evangelism. Each church organization has developed plans of continued evangelism with actual goals and strategies that are easy to implement. The inauguration took place in Kiev, Ukraine, November 2008. All the plans are displayed in the division office, where every day at 12:45 a special prayer is spoken for the Lord to bless and guide the effort. 

3. Every Day by the Power of Jesus—Big Cities,
New Churches, and Media Ministries

 All the ESD activities have also involved the big cities, and there are some unique initiatives to reach the secular, multicultural, and multireligious people in these cities. ESD has established special research centers for different religions and secular people. A “Good News Cafe” has been established in most of the big cities. The heart rejoices over the eagerness of many of our young people to reach out to those affected by a secular mentality. Friendship is the key to winning people to Christ in the cities.

When it comes to creating new churches, one of the biggest challenges remains the issue of places of worship. Places of worship have been rented from various owners, but in most ESD countries it is prohibited to rent out a public meeting place for worship purposes. To face this challenge we had to bring together several churches in one meeting place, thus reducing the number of churches. On the other hand, we have tried aggressively to find ways of building or buying homes and remodeling them for places of worship. In the past 10 years more than 1,000 places of worship have been dedicated. Whereas in some places a very humble place of worship is acceptable, in others—taking into consideration the cultural aspect—people will not enter a place of worship if it is not adequate. We are very thankful to the Lord for the beautiful cathedrals that we build in cities such as Moscow, Kiev, Lipetsk, and others. As soon as such a wonderful place is dedicated, it is filled up very quickly with precious people. 

While many things could be said about the publishing work for multilanguage territories, Internet evangelism, and radio broadcasts, an effective method of taking God’s Word into ?the homes of millions of people is through television. ESD Hope Channel has done remarkably well. We now have a number of TV studios that are broadcasting via satellite six hours daily and making good progress toward having a 24-7 ESD channel in the near future. The 24-7 broadcast will open for us a door to cable networks in many countries.

Looking back on the way the Lord has led us in the ESD the past five years, we can only say, Praise the Lord! Glory be to Him alone! And as we look to the future, ESD will continue working under the motto “Tell the World.”