Three South American couples dedicated for service at a mission conference last week will be the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries that River Plate Adventist University in Argentina sends to the 10/40 Window.
Spanning northern Africa, the Middle East and central Asia between 10 and 40 degrees latitude, the region is home to two-thirds of the world's population, less than 1 percent of which is Christian, church leaders estimate.
Two of the couples are expected to serve in Lebanon and the Pacific island of Palau, respectively. The third couple is waiting for an assignment.
Organized by students and supported by faculty, the "I Will Go" missionary conference was a first for the church-run university in Entre Rios, Argentina.
The September 1 to 3 conference, which drew about 700 people from 17 universities -- most of them located in South America -- sought to inspire students to commit their lives to mission service.
Marly Lopes Timm, the South American Division's volunteer coordinator, and Magdiel Perez Schulz, secretary of the division, spoke at the conference and were key supporters from the division.
"The South America Division has been a tremendous energizing force for evangelism," said Rick McEdward, a church missiologist who attended the conference. "In recent years, we've seen a growing awareness there that the world is our mission field. It's great to see the division fanning that flame," said McEdward, who heads up the church's Global Mission Religious Study Centers.
McEdwards said the students at the conference and in South America exhibited an "incredible commitment" to mission. Their division is among church regions sending a lately increasing number of missionaries overseas, a role historically played by the North American Division.
While service opportunities in the 10/40 Window are often specialized, there is potential for students to find mission posts after graduation, particularly for the many university medical students who attended the conference.
"There's a lot of passion for mission service, and as the church changes how it does mission in the 10/40 Window, more and more mission opportunities will become available for these students," he said.
Currently, some 160 Adventist missionary couples serve in the 10/40 Window.
"As mission offerings increase, so does our ability to send and support missionaries in many of these least reached countries of the world," McEdward said.