After Manila, Wilson Reflects on Sharing Jesus in Cities
World church president says Harare and San Antonio are next on his itinerary.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is pressing ahead with efforts to share Jesus in big cities following a 2014 initiative in Manila that resulted in more than 10,000 baptisms, world President Ted N.C. Wilson said.
The church, recognizing that the number of people in cities has surpassed those in rural areas, has been implementing “Mission to the Cities,” an initiative under each of the world church’s 13 divisions makes expansive and deliberate plans to meet the health and spiritual needs of city residents.
Wilson himself is placing a strong emphasis on the issue, leading public evangelistic meetings over the past two years in New York; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and, most recently, Santa Rosa and Manila, Philippines. He is scheduled to lead additional meetings next year in Harare, Zimbabwe, and the U.S. city of San Antonio, Texas.
But "Mission to the Cities" is more than preaching, Wilson said.
“The Spirit of Prophecy says that the best thing you can do in the city is medical missionary work,” Wilson said in an e-mail interview. “This special comprehensive and sustained outreach to the cities is what God has been asking us to do for a long time.”
He said much has already been done in the cities, including a pilot, one-year program called NY13 in New York last year that led to more than 4,000 baptisms, and ongoing work with “Hope Manila 2014: iCare,” in the Philippine capital, where more than 10,000 people have been baptized since January.
“But we have so much more to do through the leading of the Holy Spirit as we approach Christ’s soon coming,” Wilson said.
On the surface, the task may appear daunting.
Slightly more than half of the estimated 7.1 billion people on Earth live in cities today, a shift from the majority that lived in the countryside until 2009, according to United Nations data. Seventy percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050.
Of the world’s 500 cities with a population of 1 million or more, 43 don’t have a single Adventist congregation, according to a “Mission to the Cities” strategy approved by the church’s 2013 Annual Council.
Wilson said: “We must continue our work in the rural areas but never forget our special ministry for the cities as was recorded about Jesus’ ministry in Matthew 9:35-38, Luke 4:18-19 and Luke 19:41-42. It is Christ’s method of working.”
Matthew 9 describes how Jesus “went about all the cities and villages,” teaching in synagogues and healing sicknesses. Luke 4 records Jesus speaking in the city synagogue in Nazareth about His mission to “proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” and Luke 19 depicts Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem for rejecting Him.
Adventist leaders also find encouragement in church co-founder Ellen G. White. Wilson noted that White wrote in her book “Medical Ministry”: “When we work the cities as God would have them, the result will be setting in motion of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed” (page 304).
Wilson praised the Manila process— with a series of health and spiritual initiatives before and after his evangelistic series there on May 4-17 — as a model for the church to follow going forward.
“The ‘Hope Manila 2014: iCare’ evangelistic activities went very well and included many preparation meetings leading up to the actual public meetings,” he said. “There were health and community outreach activities preceding the main public evangelistic outreach.”
Wilson said he was looking forward to participating in the upcoming evangelistic series in Harare in May 2015, and in San Antonio in June 2015, shortly before the world church holds its quinquennial General Conference Session in the city.
The Harare program is being organized by local Adventist leaders.
Among those spearheading the San Antonio effort are Adventist evangelist Mark Finley; Robert Costa, evangelism coordinator for the Adventist world church; and Duane McKey, vice president of the church’s Southwestern Union Conference, which includes San Antonio.
Contact Adventist Review news editor Andrew McChesney at email@example.com. Twitter: @ARMcChesney
Special May 2013 issue of Ministry magazine dedicated to “Mission to the Cities"
Adventist Review article: “GC President Shares Jesus With Manila’s Rich and Powerful”
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