November 28, 2019

90 Years of Passion for Mission in Europe and Beyond

Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News

For 90 years, the Trans-European Division (TED) has overseen the mission and ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in a vast, diverse, and ever-changing territory. Now a new book and a short documentary film highlight a passion for mission right from the early origins of the Adventist Church in Europe through to the continued challenges of outreach in largely secularized societies.

The Book

A Passion for Mission is a detailed research work by author and Adventist historian David Trim. Trim shows that mission is in the DNA of European Adventism and that while Europe started as a “mission field,” it very soon started sending homegrown missionaries to Africa, Asia, and as far as South America. In a lecture that accompanied the book launch, Trim estimated that around 1,000 European missionaries served overseas.

“Sending some of its brightest and best talent to the mission field has had a significant impact on the world church, but also on the development of the church at home,” Trim said. This 90th-anniversary history tells stories that inspire, provides insights into effective leadership, and draws out conclusions and lessons applicable to the church in Europe today.

TED executive secretary Audrey Andersson, who said she loves history, strongly endorsed the book during the official presentation and a book signing on Thursday, November 21, 2019.

“This book clearly demonstrates that mission has always been central to European Adventism,” Andersson said.

A Passion for Mission is published by Newbold Academic Press and is available from Amazon.

The Film

TED president Raafat Kamal chose a documentary video format for his 2019 president’s report. Standing on the beach opposite Southampton Docks in Southampton, England, he focused on four moving stories from TED history, then showed how the perseverance and determination of our pioneers are still active in mission today.

Those stories included the first missionaries to the United Kingdom, William Ings and John Loughborough, and their determination in the midst of failure. Kamal then shared the story of the courage of a converted Adventist farmer in war-torn Finland who, in 1918, saved the lives of 10 men who were to be shot as revenge killings for the death of his son. His act of forgiveness broke the circle of violence and led to the start of a house church in his community.

A Passion for Mission official book launch. From left to right, Trans-European Division (TED) president Raafat Kamal, Adventist author and historian David Trim, Adventist Church president Ted Wilson, and TED executive secretary Audrey Andersson. [Photo: Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News]

In the final historical section, the film told of two faithful Adventist sisters who hid a Jewish boy during the Nazi occupation of Latvia, and the testimony of current Polish Union president Ryszard Jankowski, who remembers how nine members of his family were incarcerated in Auschwitz and Ravensbrück because they faithfully kept the Sabbath.

These stories are from history, but history is still being made today, as the video also recounted modern mission in locations related to the historical stories: a church helping refugees; a café project; a center of influence in the north of Finland; a campsite that generates up to half the baptisms in Poland; and a camporee that changed children’s lives.

Such accounts, both historical and current, clearly demonstrate that while mission can be difficult, with perseverance, dependence on God, and a willing spirit, missionaries can see miracles happen, regional church leaders said.

“We now hope that the book and film will not just be interesting historical documents but will inspire and charge members across the TED and beyond with a real passion for mission,” they said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.