Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, and other church leaders, are in the middle of a 10-day official visit to China, seeking to strengthen ties between the global Adventist family and an estimated 400,000 Adventists in the People’s Republic.
“We have visited wonderful, faithful, dynamic and courageous Seventh-day Adventist church members,” Wilson wrote in an April 4 email to Adventist Review editors. “We have seen lovely churches that we own, heard wonderful choirs, seen enthusiastic young people in churches and the results of earnest mission activities on the part of church members. We have seen some of the large, modern cities of this vast country as well as the strong infrastructure and natural beauty – and, of course, the thousands upon thousands of people just about wherever you turn.”
Joining Wilson are G. T. Ng and Robert Lemon, Adventist world church secretary and treasurer, respectively, along with Jairyong Lee, president of the denomination’s Northern Asia-Pacific Division, David Kok Hoe Ng, Chinese Union president, and Eugene Hsu, a retired general vice president of the world church. Williams Costa Jr., Adventist Church Communication department director and Andre Brink, an associate Communication director of the world church, as well as regional Communication director Suk Hee Han, are part of the delegation.
One of the stops on the itinerary is the city of Wenzhou, in southern China. The city has 9 million inhabitants and 1 million Christians. With such a high density of Christians, it is sometimes called "the Jerusalem of China.”
"In the Wenzhou area there are 40,000 Sabbath keepers that expect the second coming of Jesus,” Hsu said. “They are approximately 10 percent of China's Seventh-day Adventist membership and the second largest Christian group in the region," he added.
China has more than 1.3 billion people and a growing Christian community. Adventists, in many cases, worship in the same church buildings used by other Protestants. Nevertheless, Chinese Adventists keep the Sabbath and embrace the same core biblical beliefs held by members around the world.
"It is touching to see how God's love unites us as a world family and how the Holy Spirit works even without a formal Church structure and external assistance in this country," said Ng.
On March 31, Wilson preached in the Shanghai Mu'en Church and met with more than 1,500 members. In the afternoon the delegation went to the city of Wuxi, two hours drive from Shanghai, and found an enthusiastic group of Adventist believers in the Wuxi Xi'an Church greeted the leadership team with a service of music and prayer.
On the evening of April 1, a special program was presented at the Jingshi Seventh-day Adventist Church in the city of Wenzhou. At each stop, Wilson offered words of encouragement to Adventist believers.
—with information from Williams Costa Jr. in China