“As you sit together to plan your activities and engage in motivating everyone in the church…do this as a response to God’s call to His church…for this is not a man-made plan of action—this is God’s plan for finishing the work and the redemption for the world,” Seventh-day Adventist church president Jan Paulsen said recently. He made the comment in a taped message to church leaders in South America during their launch of the Year of World Evangelism 2004, a worldwide outreach initiative that attempts to involve every Adventist church member—some 13 million people—in evangelism.
The church in South America plans to equip church members—men and women, youth and children—to conduct evangelistic series, and will use communication mediums such as radio, television, satellite and the Internet.
The program, broadcast live May 3 by ADSAT Novo Tempo, an Adventist television station in Brazil, outlined plans for the Year World of Evangelism 2004 to pastors, administrators and leading lay leaders—those who will be involved in energizing their local churches for this special initiative.
“Only a few months ago it was my privilege to be with you when you launched Go One Million in South America,” Paulsen added. “Your lay members made enormous commitments. The memory of their public expressions of support continue to linger in my mind, the images of their infectious enthusiasm in joining this world movement of laity [in] taking the gospel of Christ to the remotest corners of this world.”
“The emphasis on world evangelism will have its main focus on evangelism in large urban centers,” said Adventist Church international evangelist Alejandro Bullón. “The project will assume various forms: public evangelism campaigns, weeks of harvest, harvest in small groups and personal work. The church leadership, throughout the world at all levels, will be challenged and trained to work prior to and during the year of emphasis on world evangelism.”
One of the areas of concentration for the church in South America is small groups. “In each Seventh-day Adventist community, each church is encouraged to create at least one small group [inviting] friends and neighbors to study the Bible,” said Siloé de Almeida, communication director for the church in South America.
Health institutions of the church will be involved as well. “Each one is being motivated to hold evangelistic campaigns within their working area,” Bullón said. “[They will concentrate on] reaching the cities and locations where there is still no Seventh-day Adventist presence.”
Each division, or administrative region, of the church, receives ideas and suggestions from the church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, who is heading up the Year of World Evangelism.
“I am pleased and motivated to participate,” said Peruvian Police Colonel, Robert Vasquez. “When I return to Peru, I will return encouraged to evangelize more policemen.”
The Year of World Evangelism is closely linked with two other major church movements already in progress—Go One Million, a plan to train and equip 1 million laypeople for evangelism, and Sow 1 Billion, a plan to distribute 1 billion Bible study invitations throughout the world.
“We are adopting the program in an effective form to the philosophy of the program Go One Million, which is to involve the greatest number of people in missionary work,” said Ranieri Salles, Personal Ministries director for the church in northern Brazil. “These individuals are charged with spreading the gospel throughout our entire territory.”
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a church with a mission,” Bullón said. “It exists with the purpose of proclaiming the gospel to the world.”
“Whoever is involved in this and wherever you are involved, whether in a small corner of Bolivia or Uruguay, in the steppes of Argentina, the villages of Peru and Chile, or in the big cities of Brazil, we are simultaneously involved in something that is huge, that is worldwide. The Seventh-day Adventist family around the world is undertaking this under God’s direction,” Paulsen said. “We are a part of something that is large, that is bigger than what one city or one nation or one segment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church can accomplish. We are all part of it as a world family…as our personal act of commitment and dedication to God.”
The church in South America is holding training seminars through the beginning of 2004 in preparation for the Year of World Evangelism, and the world church will dedicate the last week of 2003 for prayer for this special initiative.