April 12, 2023

Mission Refocus Report: Mission Is Our Calling

Erton Köhler presents the first official Mission Refocus report at Spring Meeting 2023.

Rachel Ashworth, ANN
Erton Köhler, secretary of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, presents the Mission Refocus Report at the 2023 Spring Meeting. [Photo: Enno Müller/AME]

On April 11, the second day of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 2023 Spring Meeting, Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the church’s General Conference and the meeting chair, introduced the first official Mission Refocus Report as a “very important aspect that is becoming a standard across all divisions.”

“Mission Refocus [is]… helping to finish God’s work. I firmly believe that the end of this earth is in sight and Jesus is coming soon,” Wilson added.

Erton Köhler, General Conference secretary and advisor to the Office of Adventist Mission, presented the Mission Refocus Report.

“Is Mission Refocus a project? Is Mission Refocus an initiative? What exactly is Mission Refocus?” Köhler asked in opening remarks. “Yes, Mission Refocus is a project … an initiative, a movement, but more than [anything], Mission Refocus is a call for integration.”

Integration in Mission

Integration was emphasized throughout the segment, as Köhler appealed to Adventist world leaders to turn to the prophetic mission of the church in the face of crises and conflict.

“Behind this movement is a prophetic movement. At the same time that this world is falling apart — is falling desperately — God is raising a movement where we are working integrated.”

This integration, Köhler noted, is a collaboration in which the entire church must be involved, not growing complacent and celebrating the Second Coming while focusing on the negative signs unfolding around it, but remembering “the main sign, the positive signs, are related to a church that is raising mightily to fulfill the mission.”

Fulfilling the Mission

Throughout the Mission Refocus Report, Executive Committee members were reminded of the importance of movement. Köhler carefully explained how the initiative is moving worldwide through two major steps, or “wings.”

The first “wing” of Mission Refocus began in January 2023 with the reorganization of Code 1 International Service Employees (ISEs), or missionaries who serve outside of their home division, which required careful analysis of divisions, unions, missions, and entities. Meetings with each division will take place to help reorganize 70 percent of resources to front-line work.

The second wing necessary to mobilize Mission Refocus throughout the world’s territories is adopting non-reached and low-reached areas by prioritizing 30 carefully chosen groups first. The report identified 10 countries, 10 urban areas, and 10 people groups from three missionary windows: the 10/40, urban, and post-Christian windows.

Commenting on this action plan, Köhler said, “Mission Refocus is not a project that we are organizing and expecting something from you. We don’t have a time limit. We don’t have a number of people. We don’t have an exact place that you need to go or to adopt. We are just trying to raise a culture of worldwide mission — everybody supports everybody, because our global mission is a responsibility for each one of us.”

Answering the Call to Mission

Köhler invited Roger Caderma, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD), to the stage to share how Mission Refocus has moved in his territory since it was first introduced at Annual Council 2022.

Explaining how SSD organized and encouraged its institutions to become involved in mission, Caderma recalled a mission summit in Thailand attended by 500 church leaders from across the division. Of the event, he said, “The motivation was simple: accept the challenge of the world church.”

In response to this challenge, SSD committed to sending 52 missionaries total, with 18 leaving SSD, to minister to the most vulnerable, unreached, and low-reached areas.

Why is SSD so committed to this effort? Caderma shared a story with Executive Committee members about how George Irwin traveled in 1904 from Australia to the United States for Spring Meeting. Staying in Manila for eight days during his travels, Irwin became aware of the need to spread the gospel in the Philippines.

That year, Irwin appealed to the General Conference for someone to go to the Southeast Asian region — a call that Robert Caldwell answered. Caldwell became the first missionary to the Philippines, and because of that one commitment, there are now 1.4 million Adventist believers in the Philippines.

Caderma finished with an appeal to the rest of the world’s territories: “Now is the time for you to repay what you received.”

Division-adopted Countries

Köhler reiterated this appeal as he took the stage once more to report to the Executive Committee on the current need.

Currently, only 4 of 10 people groups are adopted by General Conference divisions, organizations, or entities:

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Adopted people groups and others needing adoption. [Image: 2023 Spring Meeting Mission Refocus presentation]

Nine out of the ten countries are adopted:

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Adopted countries and others needing adoption. [Image: 2023 Spring Meeting Mission Refocus presentation]

Three out of ten urban areas are adopted.

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Adopted urban areas and others needing adoption. [Image: 2023 Spring Meeting Mission Refocus presentation]

All other currently prioritized places are adopted:

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[Image: 2023 Spring Meeting Mission Refocus presentation]

An Appeal for Mission Refocus

Köhler closed the Mission Refocus Report by making it clear that the initiative is more than a movement. It is an appeal for God’s church to turn toward His coming and His mission. He appealed to all members, organizations, entities, divisions, unions, the wealthy, and the able to refocus toward God’s mission.

Learn more about Mission Refocus in the special edition of Mission 360 magazine and Adventist World’s April 2023 edition.

To adopt any of the vulnerable people, countries, urban areas, or other places and commit your resources to share the gospel with these under-reached souls, contact the office of Adventist Mission.