“Mission Refocus” was the theme of the 2022 year-end meetings of the Division Executive Committee of the South Pacific Division (SPD), held in the second week of November.
Due to the pandemic, it was the first face-to-face meetings of the committee held in three years. General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson, undersecretary Hensley Moorooven, and undertreasurer Ray Wahlen attended the meetings, alongside committee members from across the South Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji, American Samoa, Vanuatu, Tahiti, and Cook Islands. A small number also joined the meetings via Zoom.
The two full days of meetings started with worship, presented by Wilson on November 9 and SPD president Glenn Townend on November 10. Union, institution, and department leaders shared their annual reports. There were times of reflection, prayer, reconnection, and making new connections.
There was also discussion on some of the big challenges the SPD is facing.
Townend explained to the committee members that the SPD’s biggest mission challenge is reaching people in the big cities of Australia and New Zealand. However, while growth in the cities may be slow, overall, the SPD is doing well in terms of the number of Adventists compared to the total population. It currently sits at about one Adventist for every 70 people across the region.
“In parts of the world there is one Adventist per thousands of people, and that’s the mission challenge,” Townend shared. “And one of those areas is our neighbouring division, the Southern Asian-Pacific Division, based in the Philippines. The Philippines country itself [is] very, very Christian, [there are] lots of Adventists there, but the rest of their countries are dominated by Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
“Our officers and union presidents met with their officers and union presidents, and we are saying, ‘Hey, we want to send missionaries from our budget. The South Pacific will pay for [the initiative], because their mission field and their mission need is far bigger and greater than ours.”
Townend believes the cross-cultural experience of people from the SPD serving in the Southern Asian-Pacific Division will be beneficial to both the individual and the SPD when they return.
“They will learn a whole lot of things and God will do some amazing things . . . and they will come back to us in the South Pacific and will be able to contribute in new and better ways because of their cross-cultural experiences.”
Wilson, speaking to Adventist Record during a break, expressed his joy in seeing the mission focus.
“It’s a privilege to see people mission-focused,” he said. “That’s really what’s important in the entire world church, as well as here in the South Pacific Division, and to see the mission refocus is really an exciting thing that I think is going to re-energize the mission vision of the SPD and will be a great blessing to other places as well.”
Asked what message he would like to share with church members around the South Pacific, Wilson replied, “I would urge all church members to focus in their own particular setting on how you can touch the lives of people right around you. Be involved. Total member involvement. Everybody doing something for Jesus. Don’t leave it to ‘the professionals.’ Don’t leave it those who are just paid church workers. Everybody is to be involved, and what a dynamic church God would have if all of us were following that beautiful principle.
“He wants to work through each one of you in a dynamic way. He has a job just for you. He has a way in which for you to truly touch the lives of people around you just as Jesus did — physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. That’s the comprehensive approach of truly following Jesus’ footsteps and ministry because Jesus is coming soon, those three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18 [are] vital messages that people need to hear about, pointing people to Christ and His righteousness, not our own or some supposed way of salvation other than through the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.
“So, God bless each one of you in the South Pacific Division,” Wilson said. “I know God will use you as you say, ‘Yes, Lord, I’m ready, I will go, I will be part of it.’ ”