Worship: Hymn 212 – Tis Almost Time for the Lord to Come; Hymn 366 – O Where Are the Reapers; Handout – Hold Out Your Light
Guillermo “Billy” Biaggi, vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke briefly about the gatekeepers of 1 Chronicles 26, noting their leadership role in biblical times: they were assigned the treasures of the house of God, as well as teaching, formal, and arbitrating duties. God decided on a structure and guided the elections, said Biaggi, suggesting to his audience that God has also chosen them as gatekeepers. We should guard the gates of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, and we should guard the gates of our church by encouraging and equipping the youth to fulfill their mission. He also cited Luke 10:1-3, emphasizing the admonition to go work in a world that belongs to God and for people who belong to God. In this vein he shared a few quotes from the writings of Ellen White, highlighting the need for creative methods, the surprising work of God, the manifestation of Christ in the church, and the hastening of Christ’s coming:
The Lord calls for pastors, teachers, and evangelists. From door to door His servants are to proclaim the message of salvation. To every nation, kindred, tongue, and people the tidings of pardon through Christ are to be carried. Not with tame, lifeless utterances is the message to be given, but with clear, decided, stirring utterances. Hundreds are waiting for the warning to escape for their lives. The world needs to see in Christians an evidence of the power of Christianity. Not merely in a few places, but throughout the world, messages of mercy are needed. Ellen White, Gospel Workers, 29.1 (Biaggi’s emphases).
Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning…The workers will be surprised by the simply means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness. Ellen White, Last Day Events, 203.3. (Biaggi’s emphases).
Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His Church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, 69. 1 (Biaggi’s emphases).
The work if God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers. Ellen White, Testimonies of the Church, Vol. 9, 116.4 (Biaggi’s emphases).
It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain. Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, 69. 2 (Biaggi’s emphases).
Reading three more quotes from White’s Last Day Events, he stated that many who strayed will come back to the fold (211.5), multitudes will join the church, (211.4), and “thousands will be converted to the truth in a day who at the eleventh hour see and acknowledge the truth and the movements of the Spirit of God” (212.2), underlining the fact that this massive conversion will happen during the closing times of earth’s history and our church needs to be ready for it.
Derek Morris, president of Hope Channel, read Jeremiah 33:3 (“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”), and offered a prayer.
Viktor Alyeksyeyenko from Euro-Asia Division, stated that his divison has one of the highest percentages of elderly church members compared to the world church. He also stated that the participation of youth in missionary work in church is a matter of survival. The future of the church depends on involving the youth at present. He highlighted two projects of the division: “Mission of Abraham,” which aims at training young people in doing outreach remotely and overseas, and “Mission of Jeremiah,” which aims at training the youth for outreach in the local context. Alyeksyeyenko described the programs designed to meet new people as involving three stages: Stage I includes discussion clubs, health exhibitions, cooking classes, campaigns, interest clubs, Christian cafes, and Christian entertainment center; Stage II includes evangelistic programs involving young boys and girls as speakers, and Stage III focuses on the preservation and continued spiritual development of new members. He also cited several results of the “One Year in Mission” program, such as: 122 projects implemented, 163 missionaries trained, about 2,000 youth involved in ministry, over 20,000 non-believing visitors, and about 1,500 people attending baptism classes. Alyeksyeyenko concluded his presentation with an encouragement for the church to involve youth not just in frontline ministry, but also in pastoral and administrative positions.
Larry Evans, Assistant to the General Conference President for the Deaf and Special Needs Ministries, speaking on behalf of the 1.1 billion people with special needs in the world, emphasized that “it is not what the blind cannot do: it’s what they are doing.” Interviewing Erton Kohler from the South American Division, he asked: Why should the church give emphasis to those with special needs? Kohler responded with two reasons: (1) Because they are special for God and therefore should be for us, too, and (2) because they have strong potential to do evangelism. We need to not only see them as a vulnerable group in need of support, but also grasp their potential for ministry to others in similar situations, he said, giving as examples the 50 ministry groups of the blind for the blind, resulting in 20 baptisms, and 200 ministries for the deaf, which yielded almost 40 baptisms within the South-American Division last year.
Geoffrey Mbwana, general vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke briefly about the opportunities natural disasters offer. Along these lines, pastor Peter Kerr from the Bahamas described his experience of living through hurricane Dorian, and highlighted the devastation it brought, including the wiping out of entire neighborhoods and damage to some Adventist churches. He also shared ways in which individuals and organizations, including the Inter-American Division, ADRA International, and a team from Florida Conference, came through with help, support, and strategic planning. Church members served up to 700 hot meals two times/day to grateful locals.
Charles Haugabrooks sang special music.
Jerry Page, General Conference Ministerial Secretary, said God is about to write the last chapter of the book of Acts, which will be better than the first 28 chapters because of the work of the Holy Spirit. He highlighted several giving resources of many that The Revival and Reformation Committee has put together, including “Daring to Ask for More,” by Melody Mason, bookmarks, Prayer Magazine, and “Powerful Stories that Impact our Spiritual Journey,” by Richard Dickson. He emphasized the value of story-telling in ministry, citing Rick Sessom’s Leading with Story: Cultivating Christ-Centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation, according to which “Eighty percent of the world’s people – including seventy percent of Americans, are story-centric communicators; that is, they prefer to learn and are most likely to be influence through stories, pictures, drama, and music rather than through reading and writing,” while Christian workers convey messages through facts, theoretical concepts, analytical information, and exhortation. Page encouraged us to stop preaching in ways people are not listening and instead reach them through effective means. He invited to the microphone pastor Jonathan Walter, GYC vice-president of missions, who spoke about the purpose of GYC and highlighted a recent project entitled “Give me Iceland: A Revival Approach to Missions, where 50 missionaries from 6 continents came together to serve Iceland for 10 days through prayer and giving out 150,000 tracts in fulfillment of Acts 1:8. Walter emphasized the power of prayer as the beginning of mission, and concluded his speech with a quote from Ellen White: “Prayer and faith will do what no power on earth can accomplish.” Ministry of Healing, 509.
Mark Finley, assistant to the world church president and editor-at-large of Adventist Review and Adventist World, interviewed Alexander Bryant, secretary of the NAD Division, and Maurice Valentine II, president of Lake Union. Alex Bryant, who chairs the 2020 Indianapolis Evangelism Committee, has been coordinating various institutions that will participate in evangelism during the General Conference, including 16 local churches, the NAD Evangelism Institute, NAD Youth Ministries, NAD Prayer Ministries, Your Best Pathways to Health, Breath of Life, It is Written, AWR, ADRA, as well as Indiana Conference and the Lake Region Conference under the leadership of the Lake Union Conference. Maurice Valentine emphasized the supportive role of Lake Union, who raised $300,000 for Impact Indiana (handled by Lake Region Conference) and Ignite Indiana (handled by Indiana Conference). Indianapolis, the host city of the 2020 General Conference has 1.6 million people. Over the past couple years, the 16 local congregations and several entities have been training church members in giving Bible studies, and close to 75 evangelistic meetings are expected to be held as a result of the effort of both conferences. 6,000-8,000 citizens of Indianapolis are expected to be served in April 2020 by Your Best Pathways to Health. The services will be offered at the privately-owned Lucas Oil Stadium, which would cost about $400,000 – 500,000 but will be used free of charge as a result of prayer and asking. Bryant expressed his hope that the revival in Indianapolis would be followed throughout our global church so that Jesus would return sooner.
Mark Finley spoke about the church’s missionary calling, noting that following the Council of Evangelism and Witnessing, which began in 2004-2005, the reported membership increased by 66% and 14.5 million new members were added to the church. “Mission is always God’s, and we have the joy and the opportunity of participating with God in His mission for a lost world. There is nothing more important to God than winning loss people for the Kingdom,” said Finley, citing Luke 19:10 – “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Mission cannot be fully successful if we treat it as a program, if we focus on numbers, if it is a promotional tool of leadership, if we make it a priority, if we think it is our work, and if we attempt to do it in our strength. Mission will only be fully successful if it is a passion, if we focus on people, if it is the priority, if is a grass-roots initiative of members who grasp Christ’s vision for a lost world, if we believe it is God’s work, and if we participate in it in God’s power.
Pastor Robert Costa concluded the Friday evening meeting with prayer.