Two decades after the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to launch a global mission initiative, the need is as great as ever, as Christianity still hasn't reached many parts of the world, church mission leaders said Saturday afternoon.
"God has a plan for this world in which we live, and He's going to see that plan finished," said Gary Krause, director of the Office of Adventist Mission, during a presentation. "The question is, will we participate in that plan?"
The world church voted to launch Global Mission during the 1990 Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the goal of starting Adventist congregations in new areas.
Over the past two decades, thousands of new believers have resulted from efforts to reach out to people of various cultures and religions, with congregations emerging in distant places such as Sarawak, Borneo, and Shenyang, China, as well as regions previously unentered. The church has grown from about six million members to more than 16 million, church officials said.
Global Mission pioneers are on the frontlines of outreach efforts, living among people in far-flung areas to share the love of Jesus with them, Krause said.
The department is also developing DVDs on understanding world religions to help church members better comprehend who their neighbors are and share the gospel in a meaningful way, said Ganoune Diop, director of the Adventist Church's global study centers.
"We praise God for the wonderful growth in the church," Krause said. "But we need to face the fact that today on planet Earth, there are more people who do not know Jesus Christ than there were 20 years ago. ...Take this opportunity to make a fresh recommitment to what you can do to support, to be involved in, the mission to tell the world about Jesus Christ."
He pointed to areas still without Christians -- or with very few of them -- including Turkey, Tibet and even Europe, where Christianity has been fading.
"There are huge populations all through Asia, teeming megacities of people. Most of them have never even heard the name of Jesus," Krause said in a video about these as-yet-unreached parts of the world. "Just think what a tremendous difference it would make in their lives to know that there was a God who loves them, who cares for them."
Church delegates also heard a report on Tell the World, a guiding initiative of the world church for the past five years. Designed to coordinate the church's effort to spread its message of hope, the program is central to the church's "identity and heritage," church leaders said in a brief report this afternoon.
"All organizations have a strategic plan; the church is exactly the same," said Mike Ryan, general vice president of the world church, who was among presenters in the Georgia Dome this afternoon. "Tell the World is the strategic plan moving the church forward."
Next Saturday, church leaders are expected to review the progress of Tell the World and announce the emphasis for the next five years.
The Adventist Mission presentation served to update the audience at the 59th General Conference Session on all the church's efforts to spread the Gospel message through mission work.
Also presented during the evening's program was a segment about enditnow, the church's campaign to end domestic violence against women. The campaign, supported by an online petition signed by tens of thousands of people, seeks to mobilize Adventists and others to stop violence against women and girls.
Leaders of the campaign presented the Session's enditnow banner, and world church President Ted N. C. Wilson took to the stage to become the first attendee in Atlanta to sign it.
To sign the banner, stop by section 116 of the Georgia Dome near Gate E.