, Adventist Mission
Every 27 seconds someone in the world joins the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and every 3.5 hours a newly organized Adventist church is established, according to statistics given during the final Sabbath afternoon mission program at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas.
Behind this fast-paced growth are people such as Helen Hall, one of several individuals featured during the July 11 program in the Alamodome stadium.
For decades, Hall has served with the church’s Adventist Volunteer Services, and is currently working as a volunteer teacher in Thailand. Going beyond the basics, Hall takes deep interest in her students, using the Bible to guide them in spiritual, character, and leadership development, attendees heard.
Although coming from non-Christian backgrounds, many of Hall’s students become Seventh-day Adventists. Some return to assist Hall in the school, others go out into villages, sharing what they have learned and successfully planting Adventist churches.
A woman from China shared how opening her home to young people in need has yielded tremendous results.
“I invite them to come to my house and I feed them,” she said. “I open the Bible, give them Bible studies, and they believe in Jesus Christ.”
About 500 people have been baptized and 10 churches planted as a result of her efforts.
An Adventist pastor from China told the story of his atheistic father who was a soldier in the Chinese army. In addition to regular military service, his father also persecuted Christians, searching them out and handing them over to the authorities for imprisonment. Over the years, this soldier was struck by how kindly the Christians responded to him, despite the persecution. Because of their witness, the hardened soldier’s heart softened and after 12 years he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
He then encouraged his entire family to become Seventh-day Adventists. Today 15 members of his extended family are serving the church in various capacities.
Comprehensive health ministry is an important part of this pastor’s work in China, where he helps to oversee a major health center that began in 2000.
“During the past 15 years, we’ve had 3,500 patients come through our center,” he said. “We’re very grateful that 1,300 of them have become baptized Seventh-day Adventist members.”
Eric Tao, secretary of the Singapore Conference, emphasized the value of “Christ’s method alone” in reaching people as he shared his conference’s successful comprehensive health outreach methods called “Pay It Forward,” and “Pay It Forward Plus.” During the first phase, health education programs are presented to the public, and during the second phase volunteer church members regularly visit at-risk families, monitoring their health progress, encouraging and empowering them for healthy lifestyle change, Tao said.
“Long-term interactions with people make a definite difference,” he said. “It builds the relationship and gives the opportunity for the people to get to know us.”
Other innovative and successful outreach strategies presented included a health food store in China, the Vegana restaurant in Finland and a Life Hope Center called “Club Sahat” in Indonesia.
“Everyone who feels lonely in Jakarta can come in, pray with us, and learn the health message,” said Arlaine Djim, one of the club directors. “They also invite us to their homes. … We can see it is so great how God works through that.”
In an interview with evangelist Mark Finley, David Neal, president of the Irish Mission reported the tremendous growth his field has experienced during the past 15 years — growing from just 250 Adventists to 1,000 worshippers in Ireland today. It all started, Neal said, when 15 dedicated church members gathered in a circle to pray, asking God for help in growing the Adventist church in their territory.
During the afternoon program, filmmaker Martin Doblmeier, spoke with Dr. Peter Landless, head of the world church’s Health Ministries department.
“Health is a big divider in what makes us rich or poor,” Doblmeier said. “This church is committed to bring health to the world.”
Doblmeier, director and producer of The Adventists, The Blueprint, and The Adventists 2, commented that while working on Adventists 2, a film showcasing Adventist medical work around the world, he realized how difficult it is to go in and do the work of God in some places.
“Sometimes the governments resist, but you have to keep trying. The people need you,” he said.
The Sabbath afternoon program also featured reports from the church’s media ministries such as Adventist World Radio; Internet ministries; and Hope Channel, including the opening of eight new Hope Channel studios throughout the world. Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson cut a symbolic ribbon for Hope Channel Japan, Hope Channel Korea, Hope Channel Southeast Asia, Hope Channel New Zealand, Hope Channel Papua New Guinea, Hope Channel Africa, Hope Channel Inter-America (French), and Hope Channel Deaf.
Gilbert Cangy, newly re-elected director of the General Conference’s Youth Ministries department, led out in his department’s report from the past quinquennium, and introduced the new “Give Them The Keys” youth initiative, focusing on discipleship, community, and mission.
During the 10 days of the 60th General Conference Session, youth were involved being “the hands and feet of Jesus” through “Impact San Antonio.” Led by Ben Lundquist and Marquis Johns of the North American Division, the young people were involved in community service throughout the host city.
Cangy told those in the Alamodome that “Adventist youth ministry is a call to mission — to love, to serve, to share, to proclaim the hope that we have in Jesus, and to engage and equip and empower our young people for mission.”