uring recent year-end meetings, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) gave thanks to God for what they called the mercies and miracles that have accompanied the mission in the region during the past five years. The meetings were held virtually this year through Zoom because of COVID-19-related restrictions, the committee acknowledged God’s assistance.
Among many other blessings, the division committee said they were grateful for exponential membership growth. The total has passed 4.5 million members.
In his report, ECD president Blasious Ruguri highlighted some milestones, including Total Member Involvement (TMI) in evangelism, new churches in unentered territories, and the brand-new medical school in Rwanda.
“We thank God for the wonderful things He has done. The ECD story is not just a report. It is a testimony of miracles,” Ruguri said. “The Bible tells us that miracles will accompany us in our endeavors with Him, and we have seen His hand.”
Ruguri urged committee members to embrace the regional motto for the new quinquennium, which is “I Will Go Make Disciples.”
Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson commended leaders and members for their commitment to TMI, which boosted membership growth. He reminded delegates that they should never relax or let their courage grow dim in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages.
“Like prophet Isaiah, we must be ready to serve the Almighty God with humility. We must answer ‘I will go’ whenever He calls us,” Wilson said.
In his remarks, ECD executive secretary Alain Coralie credited God for the mighty works accomplished in the division. Statistics reveal that the church is growing fast across the region. During the past five years, ECD increased its membership by 1,336,206.
Two cases illustrate God’s hand behind recent stories of success, according to regional church leaders. First is the South Sudan Attached Territory (SSAT). Despite serving in the midst of political tensions and conflicts, the territory has led ECD in growth. SSAT has more than doubled its membership during the past five years. Second is Burundi Union Mission, which has unflinchingly moved against leadership storms. The union has baptized the highest percentage in TMI rallies.
Coralie also said he appreciated the role of media ministries such as Hope Channel, Adventist World Radio, local radio stations, and various digital platforms for stepping into the breach when COVID-19 restricted church gatherings. “The pandemic will not stop the proclamation of the [message],” Coralie said.
Church growth across the ECD is not without challenges. Coralie reminded committee members that despite so many baptisms, many members were reported as dropped or missing from membership in the past five years. “For every 100 who joined the church in our territory, 10 left,” he pointed out.
On a different note, ECD treasurer Jerome Habimana underscored the role of technology in conducting church business. The regional church has started implementing the Church Finance Management System (CFMS). Habimana presented the system as an effective tool to manage church finances with transparency and accountability. He also praised God for blessing of the department he leads even in the midst of COVID-19-related challenges. Against some people’s worst fears, gross tithe decreased by only 1.32 percent, and gross offerings by just 3.71 percent.
Looking at the current financial trend, Habimana optimistically anticipated a bright future, as many of the countries in the territory continue to resume their daily activities.
ECD is one of the regional entities of the Adventist Church around the world. With headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, it includes 11 countries from Eritrea to Tanzania to the Democratic Republic of Congo.