Days after historic evangelistic meetings ended in Rwanda, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders gathered in Romania to prepare for a major series that will be held in early 2017 across the East European country and much of the former Soviet Union.
Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson is meeting with Romania’s 400 Adventist pastors, as well as representatives of the church’s Inter-European Division and Euro-Asia Division, in a conference center nestled in the scenic mountains of Transylvania.
Accompanying Wilson is Duane McKey, his special assistant for Total Member Involvement and director of the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department of the Adventist world church.
“Our trip to Romania is focused on meeting our church members and planning with pastors and leaders for Total Member Involvement evangelistic outreach,” Wilson said Friday. “Church members and pastors will be focusing on many programs to make friends with the public and provide a comprehensive approach to outreach.”
Total Member Involvement — the active participation of each church member in inviting people to Jesus — proved key to the success of the May 13-28 evangelistic meetings at 2,227 sites in Rwanda, church leaders say. As of last weekend, 98,298 people had been baptized as a result of those meetings, expanding the church’s membership in the African country to more than 818,000 people.
The Adventist Church has 66,385 members worshipping in about 1,100 churches in Romania, according to the most recent figures compiled by the world church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
Evangelistic meetings will be held at 2,000 to 2,500 sites on Feb. 10-25, 2017, across Romania, which part of the Inter-European Division, Wilson said. In addition, hundreds of sites will operate on the territory of the neighboring Euro-Asia Division, which encompasses Russia, 11 other former Soviet republics, and Afghanistan, in February and March, depending on weather-related factors.
“We are planning for pastors and lay members to hold hundreds of meetings all across Romania,” Wilson said, writing on his Facebook page. “In addition, the entire Euro-Asia Division is planning to participate, with hundreds of meetings across that vast division.”
Wilson, as in Rwanda, intends to lead a set of evangelistic meetings in Romania.
Also like Rwanda, employees of the General Conference, the administrative body of the Adventist world church, and other church workers will be invited to join several thousand local pastors and lay members in preaching at sites in Romania and the former Soviet Union, McKey said.
Wilson and his wife, Nancy, who spent a week in the United States after leaving Rwanda on May 29, arrived in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, on Wednesday, June 8, and immediately met at the Romanian presidential palace with two senior state officials: Sergiu Nistor, presidential counselor for culture, religious affairs, and national centennial activities, and Diana Lorena Păun, state counselor on public health.
“The meeting represented an opportunity to get acquainted, to acknowledge existing cooperation between the presidential administration, public authorities, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and to discuss aspects that are important for Romanian Adventist believers,” Dragoș Mușat, director of public affairs and religious liberty for the Adventist Church in Romania, told the Adventist Review.
At the meeting, Nistor expressed his appreciation for the ongoing development of Adventist educational and healthcare systems in the country and spoke specifically about plans to build Romania’s first Adventist hospital, the local church said in an e-mailed statement. Church leaders hope to unveil the plans for the hospital in Târgu-Mores in the near future, it said.
On Thursday, Wilson headed up the mountains of Transylvania for the gathering of 400 pastors and other church leaders in Stupini. They met in a church-owned conference center on property seized by Romania’s former communist government years ago and returned to the church around 2000.
Between serious discussions and earnest prayers, Wilson enjoyed a light moment when he was introduced to a Romanian pastor who bears a resemblance to him. They took a photo together.
“At the meeting with the 400 pastors, I met my Romania ‘twin,’” Wilson wrote beside the photo on his Facebook page. “People tell him we look alike. What a privilege to be brothers in Christ!”
Wilson, meanwhile, appealed to church members worldwide to join the church leaders in Romania in prayer.
“I will pray that this massive Total Member Involvement evangelistic outreach will be blessed by God beyond imagination and the latter rain will fall,” he told the Adventist Review. “It could be the re-ignition of Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic zeal in Europe!”
Anamaria Maier contributed to this report from Romania.