‘God Is Calling You Back to the Altar for Mission Service’

Seventh-day Adventists in Spain gather to worship, reflect, and recommit to mission.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
‘God Is Calling You Back to the Altar for Mission Service’
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson (right) preaches as Jonatan Contero interprets, on the opening night of the Back to the Altar national congress of the Spanish Union of Churches Conference in Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain, on June 14. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Moments of praise and congregational singing, study of God’s Word, prayer, and even a dramatic sketch marked the opening program of the Back to the Altar national congress of the Spanish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SUC) in Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain, on June 14.

The event, cosponsored by the SUC and Safeliz Publishing House June 14-16, drew more than 4,000 church members and leaders on behalf of the more than 19,000 baptized members across the country for a weekend of spiritual renewal and commitment, event organizers said. Thousands more from across Spain and other countries followed the livestreamed event through the church’s official media channels. Hearing-impaired people could also enjoy simultaneous sign language interpretation throughout the program.

“Even though this is a national congress, it is a Back to the Altar event, going back to the arms of Jesus,” co-hostess Esther Azon said. “And we’ll do it together, because we are family.”

Getting Closer to God and His Word

Spanish Union Conference president Oscar Lopez celebrated the opportunity for members to meet together, after a previous congress planned for 2020 had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our wish is to be finally together, to reclaim our faith, to go back to the altar as a family that perseveres in faith, and to make our homes a place to pray and get together around God’s Word,” López said.

Safeliz general manager Mario Martinelli agreed. “Our first goal here is to come closer to God through a life dedicated to Him,” he said. “It’s going beyond just accepting what our church teaches to living a life committed to the Lord. God has a plan for us and longs for us to stay close to Him and His Word.”

Martinelli explained that when we gather around God’s Word, His Word transforms us and moves us into action. “Faithfulness to God’s Word drives us to fulfill God’s purpose and mission for our families and as a church,” he emphasized.

The Importance of the New Birth

As the first speaker of the evening, Inter-European Division youth director Jonatan Tejel shared devotional thoughts on the experiences of Nicodemus, Peter, and Paul regarding their new birth in Jesus.

“When Peter and Paul were born again, both of them became tools in Jesus’ hands to change the world,” Tejel emphasized. “There’s no fear, guilt, hurt, or defect that a new birth in Jesus won’t repair.”

Tejel reminded his audience that the greatest miracle that God can perform today is the transformation of a human heart. “There’s nothing more impressive than witnessing someone being transformed by God,” he emphasized. “Just like Nicodemus, our greatest need is to experience a spiritual renewal.”

Being born again gives us new sensibility and a new identity, Tejel explained.

“When a baby is born, they see for the first time and they hear for the first time,” he said. “They are born into a world full of new sensations. A new-born believer reaches a point where all the spiritual things they had heard before without really understanding them, now make perfect sense. They have newly acquired sensibility.”

Likewise, the new birth furnishes a person with a new identity. “When we are born again, we are born into a family,” Tejel said. “And now we belong to God, because Jesus calls us to accept a new identity rooted in Him.”

Going Back, Going Out

Then it was Ted N. C. Wilson turn and he called Adventist members and leaders to remember the significance of the moment and the Back to the Altar initiative.

Going back to the altar, he reminded those present, is truly a missionary endeavor. “When we speak about going back to a relationship with Jesus through Bible study, a personal prayer connection, and through understanding God’s instructions through the Spirit of Prophecy, we do it for one reason,” Wilson said. “Because God wants to use each one of you in this great country to lift up Jesus, His precious three angels’ messages, and His soon second coming.”

He emphasized the missional purpose of “going back to the altar” several times. “To come in prayer and study to God [has been the goal and] then sending us to our mission to the world,” Wilson said. “God is calling you to come back to the altar to then go out in mission service.… When we are called back to the altar and to God, we are then sent by the Holy Spirit to touch the lives of people and tell them that Jesus is coming.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review