According to Jesus, His followers can choose among several options when they think their Master “is delaying his coming” (Luke 12:45).
One option is to fall asleep (see Matt. 25:1-13). Another is to start beating their servants and eating and drinking (see Luke 12:45). A third is to keep watch (see Matt. 25:13). A fourth is to stay active, managing His estate and doing His bidding (see Luke 12:35-44). Seventh-day Adventists can be thankful that a significant percentage of members and most leaders have chosen the latter two.
Seventh-day Adventists have been uniquely chosen for mission, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson reminded Executive Committee (EXCOM) members who gathered for the 2023 Annual Council at the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. It is a comprehensive mission that for 160 years has propelled missionaries to go from everywhere to everywhere to share God’s message with people looking for hope.
“God’s global work is flourishing because we are chosen for mission,” Wilson said. “Nothing can stop God’s mission.”
In 2024, the Adventist Church will commemorate 150 years since the organization sent its first overseas missionary. In the words of David Trim, director of the church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, those would be “150 years of the Adventist Church putting the world first, ahead of parochial interests.”
Even the current unprecedented changes and challenges, GC secretary Erton Köhler said, should be seen as opportunities for mission. “Everybody can do something to keep the focus on the mission and to help us face our vast worldwide challenges.” Köhler made those comments against the background of Mission Refocus, an initiative of the world church that seeks to realign priorities and reassign funds to those regions of the world that most need mission support.
Official programs and initiatives of the world church and incidental comments and reports show that many faithful Adventists are keeping the passion for mission alive. Those mission-minded followers of Jesus are not circumscribed by a region or even an age. From young Caleb Mission volunteers in Puerto Rico to medical missionary workers in Chad to ADRA workers in Romania and retired volunteers across the U.S., thousands of church members keep getting out of their comfort zones to serve and help change lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Adventist leaders continue to work in partnership with other organizations and companies to find innovative ways of doing mission. They are even training a robot to give Bible studies and share Bible-based Adventist beliefs. New tools have been developed to connect and match missionary hopefuls with service opportunities. No matter how many programs and initiatives church organizations and supporting ministries come up with, however, the needs are still enormous.
And yet, no program or initiative would be successful without the members’ buy-in. It is that passion for mission instilled through global mission stories, but also in every Sabbath School, in every local church, in every classroom, clinic, food factory, and media center that keeps Adventist mission moving forward. And during the 2023 Annual Council, an October 6 mission program served for church leaders to learn, reflect, and recommit to Adventist mission.
From time to time, doomsayers proclaim that Adventist mission is dead. Naysayers decry the funds spent on mission while collecting funds to spread their pessimistic views even further. Those who love the Lord’s mission press on, because there’s still a world thirsty for hope, dreaming of a way out. It is every member’s privilege to get involved in such a heaven-mandated enterprise.