July 8, 2015

Newly Elected Church Leaders Speak Out

Adventist Review/ANN

Church leaders are passionate about sharing Jesus Christ. In the following interviews, this becomes obvious as a range of world church leaders share their visions.

Topics range from creating resources, leadership philosophy, the importance of spiritual growth, emulating Jesus Christ, and the power of prayer to church members’ engagement in the life of the church.

Discover in the following interviews how these church leaders view leadership, including pertinent insights for the future of the church. Each leader brings their own individual personality and leadership style. The
Adventist Review staff sought to discover how they plan to encourage the church to fulfill its mission to proclaim the gospel to the world.

Artur A. Stele

general vice president, General Conference

Please describe your view of leadership.

It is to fulfill the call that the Lord has placed and to model Him in servant leadership, serving His church.

What is next?

Since I have been involved in international Bible and missionary conferences, this is something we need to continue to strengthen our confidence in Scripture.

Guillermo E. Biaggi

general vice-president, General Conference

Where do you see the church?

We need to allow all church members to be involved in the mission of the church.

What does that look like?

We need to pray each day, each member. Ellen White encourages us to pray and meditate, to study Scripture, and then we will receive power from heaven to share with others. We need to think and pray for people as we introduce them to Jesus because we love them. We need to make a list, and pray each day, and ask the Lord to help us reach them. This would be great if we could reach another person and fulfill the mission of the church.

Thomas L. Lemon

general vice-president, General Conference

What is your philosophy of leadership?

Perhaps the best way to start is to share what leadership is not. It isn’t control; it is enabling and empowering those around me to find their gifts, to utilize their gifts. The Bible espouses the model of a servant. We would do well to follow that servant model. I just wrote about Philippians 2:5-8, about how Jesus let all go to the point of the cross. He is the greatest leader the world has ever known. In my leadership roles I want to empower people. I want to lead like Jesus, with humility.

Could you reflect on General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson’s three areas of focus for the church: spiritual growth, primacy of Scripture, and involvement of lay people in evangelism?

If our spiritual growth is shallow and lacking, then our plans will be short-sighted and ineffective. So we have to come from a place of depth in our spiritual development. Deep spiritual growth has to have a foundation in Scripture. I resonate with what Elder Wilson has said about deep spirituality, informed biblically through and through; it is absolutely bedrock. And the concept of everybody being involved—every individual involved in mission—a very biblical focus.

What are your hopes and dreams for the church?

All mission is local. The incarnational model of ministry is absolutely vital moving forward. The church must focus on Scripture, deep spiritual growth, knowing and discerning what is right and wrong.

Abner De Los Santos

general vice-president, General Conference

What is your vision for the future of the church?

The leadership of the church needs to be focused on service. We need to understand the necessity to be humble before God and serve other people.

Anything else?

The future of the church is in God’s hands. We are His instruments and I hope to serve Him better, to do my best to help.

Paul S. Ratsara

president, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division

Share your vision about the future of the church.

The vision is clear: [It is] the preaching of the gospel in this generation. We want to go home as soon as possible. So we need to have total participation of pastors, leaders, and lay people. Everybody must participate. In order to achieve that, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are impossible with His power. I see a church filled with the Holy Spirit as it is prophesied in the book of Acts and the Spirit of Prophecy. We want to be so filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching the gospel with power in a short period of time. The church can be ready for His coming.

Jerry Page

director, Ministerial Association, General Conference

What are your plans for Ministerial?

We have a lot of dreams, and I have a great team of associates who work very well together. There are many things going on, training deacons and deaconesses especially. We have a new handbook, but we have not yet been in the field to do training.

What about your dreams for the church moving forward?

We have major plans to see the latter rain. We want to work more on areas we did not get to last time.

What areas?

We had a retreat [last December]. Elder Wilson was with us; we saw four areas of revival and reformation. We want to do more with family worship, church engagement, spiritual growth, and community involvement. We just want deep spiritual growth. We want to do more in terms of how we reach out through comprehensive health evangelism. We have been planning, moving forward, to look at Christ’s method for evangelism, which includes health and mental [health]. We are also trying to work with PKs [pastor’s kids] in the family area, more resourcing for pastor’s kids, but we want to develop more.

We want to collaborate as pastors, elders, and lay people work together. It takes pastors and elders to support so that we can train lay members in churches where a pastor may not want them to be involved. If we can get lay people involved—from mission trips to evangelism—and teamwork with pastors and elders, the relationship is a team effort. Everything with us is founded on revival and reformation. We have discipleship and evangelism going on. We are going to continue to push spiritual revival and have an explosion of the Holy Spirit’s power.

Dan Jackson

president, North American Division

Share with us your philosophy of leadership.

Leadership is something that is shared. All of us who are elected are only stewards for the time that we have been asked to serve. I don’t believe that the secretary owns secretariat, or the treasurer owns treasury, or the president owns presidential. We are all working together to build leadership and leadership teams.

For North America, my focus is on engagement, getting our people more fully engaged in the mission of the church to implement the biblical ideal of every time a person finds Jesus, they sign on to be a minister of the most high God; and to help our pastors become the greatest trainers of our people.

In North America we want to try to build synergies between our health systems, higher education institutions, academies, and body as the church. I just see the NAD beginning to build something, a synergy that will build nothing but a “praise God” type of thing. We just had a ministerial convention in Austin. It was a Spirit-filled, godly occasion. We are just praising God and have more good times as things develop.

Elder Wilson mentioned three points (spiritual growth, Scripture, and lay involvement in evangelism). How does the NAD fit in?

I’ve already talked about lay people. Spiritual growth is something we can never take for granted. One of the roles of leadership is to model walking with Jesus and call others to that same experience. I see the NAD promoting the values of the General Conference. I see this period as advancing and moving forward.

Leonardo R. Asoy

president, Southern Asia-Pacific Division

What burdens has God placed on your heart for SSD?

One of the burdens we have in this territory is how to reach Buddhists and Muslims. We are concerned about nurture. This quinquennium has seen an average of 80,000 individuals baptized each year. Our challenge is to strengthen and nurture new believers in this division.

Elder Wilson mentioned three areas of focus for the church.

We want to help our people read the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy. This will strengthen our people.