Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Zimbabwe are preparing to welcome more than
40,000 people to a two-week evangelistic series led by world church
President Ted N.C. Wilson next year.
The May 2015 event, which will be held in Harare, the
capital of the southern African country, promises to be one of the most
ambitious efforts to share Jesus under the auspices of the world church’s “Mission
to the Cities” initiative.
Jonathan Musvosvi, president of the East Zimbabwe
Conference, which is organizing the event, said the evangelistic series would begin
with Wilson speaking to businesspeople and government officials at the Harare
International Conference Center, an upmarket venue in the affluent section of
Harare, for the first week.
“This is a segment of the population which is difficult for
us to reach and where the church is not growing as fast and strong as we would
like to see it,” Musvosvi said by e-mail.
Conference leaders are looking at working with wealthy Adventists
to invite people to the meetings, similar to what was done for “Hope Manila
2014: iCare,” a two-week evangelistic series that resulted in more than 2,000
baptisms in the Philippine capital in May 2014.
For the second week, the evangelistic series will move to
the 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in a densely populated area of Harare, Zimbabwe’s
largest city with a population of 1.6 million.
“We expect attendance to be in the range of 40,000,” Musvosvi
It remains unclear where baptisms will be conducted. Musvosvi
said he believed local churches had sufficient facilities for those who wished
to be baptized but other accommodations could be organized if needed.
Harare’s preparations mirror those for Hope Manila, where
Wilson-led meetings targeted Manila’s political and business leaders in an
attempt to reach a group of people that the church has sometimes overlooked in
A host of other activities also took place in Manila in the
run-up to the meetings, including health seminars, small group Bible studies,
and community service aimed at nurturing the long-term health and spiritual
needs of city residents. Follow-up work is continuing in Manila for the rest of
the year and beyond, local Adventist leaders say.
With more than half of the world’s 7 billion people living
in cities, the General Conference, which oversees the world church, has charged
each of the church’s 13 world divisions with drafting expansive and deliberate
plans to reach city residents. The task is seen as a priority, with city
dwellers expected to account for 70 percent of the world’s population by 2050.
The first major initiative under Mission to the Cities, called
NY13, took place in New York in 2013, and it has been followed by programs in a
number of cities, including Mexico City, Lagos, Tokyo, Geneva, Sydney, Buenos
Aires, Indianapolis, Mumbai, Kiev, Luanda, Kinshasa, Beirut, and London.
Zimbabwe has reeled amid political and economic instability
for much of the past decade, a reality that Musvosvi said has made the time
ripe for the 2015 evangelistic series.
“Yes, we have passed through our political and economic
turmoil, but this has caused us to turn to God,” he said. “The people's
receptivity to the gospel is high.”
Review news editor Andrew McChesney at [email protected].
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