Over 40,000 Expected at Major Evangelistic Series in Zimbabwe
Wilson will lead two weeks of meetings that mirror his recent effort to reach political and business leaders in Manila.
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 said.
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 the past.
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.”
Contact Adventist Review news editor Andrew McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ARMcChesney
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