Church and community are on the minds of many Seventh-day Adventist Church members looking forward to the New Year. When Adventist News Network asked what some church members hope for most in the New Year the theme of Advent was also common and not surprising for a movement built on the hope of Christ’s soon return.
Maike Stepanek, in Koyang City, Kyonggi-do, South Korea, reflects the hopes of church of more than 15 million members. She hopes that the “Lord can come so we can get out of here.”
Pastor Dan Pabone in Silver Spring, Maryland hopes that Jesus will “give us more faith to be patient and wait for Him and the patience to deal with those who do not understand the hope of His coming.”
While others also looked forward to Christ’s coming, they hoped to spend more time in the New Year introducing Christ to those who do not know him.
Alexander Douglas, a London-based musician said he hoped that “more and more people in the world will recognize that it really is pointless to have Christian morality without the Christian God.”
Ganoune Diop, also in Silver Spring, Maryland, says that in his position as director of the church’s Global Mission Study Centers he hopes to help the “Church develop ways to get to know our neighbors from other world religions and philosophies and in a meaningful way share the ever lasting gospel.”
Others see the New Year as another opportunity to truly embrace God’s calling for them to minister to others.
“I will try my best not to turn down any invitations to preach in any churches or conduct a week of prayer for the school (which I rejected this year because I felt that I was not competent),” said Caroline Tobing in Bandung, Indonesia.
While there is a deep love for the Adventist Church and its future, church members also recognize that the church faces challenges and hope for improvements.
Stepanek hopes “our church [would] move away from the big numbers and see souls instead, we are called to be missionaries and witnesses, not accountants.”
Gina Wahlen in Silang, Cavite, Philippines wanted more unity in the church. “My hope for our world church in the coming year is that we will focus less on our differences and more on what draws us together as a worldwide community of believers who love Jesus,” she said.
Several church members also shared their passion for the community outside the church’s doors.
Joy Mliswa, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe hopes community starts in the church. “Most people are wondering if God is still in control with all that is happening [in the world]. I hope our church would reach out to the community and be able to show and tell them that God is still in control. I would like to see a more loving church, a church that is concerned about the welfare of others,” she says.
Despite the upbeat theme of these thoughts essential to the idea of hope, church members hopes are tempered in reality. Wahlen says, “I wish that in this coming year there would be an end to poverty, to hunger, to disasters and sorrow, but the more I see, the more I realize that while temporary relief may happen from time to time, the only permanent solution comes with eternity.”