As Pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference President, concluded a powerful, spirit-filled sermon on baptism, he made a moving appeal for individuals in the audience to make a full decision for Jesus. Gradually people began to come forward. First just a few came and then more and more people surged forward. Soon the front of the Manhattan, Greenwich Village church was filled with people. Some had tears streaming down their faces as they surrendered all to Jesus. Others bowed their heads quietly in prayer.
It was a diverse group that came forward on Saturday night, June 22. There were young and old, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Europeans, and Caucasians. Among them were a Columbia University Pre-med student, a New York architect and his wife, a business man, secretaries, housewives and a host of others. They were part of seventy plus people who have made decisions for baptism in Pastor Wilson’s Revelation of Hope Series. Many of these have been baptized already and the rest will be baptized in the very near future a good number this coming Sabbath.
The group that responded to Pastor Wilson’s baptismal appeal reflected the diversity of New York Cities cosmopolitan nature. The nearly twenty million inhabitants of Greater New York area are a virtual united nations speaking more than 800 languages. Someone has said, “If you want to visit the world in one city, go to New York.” Possibly this is why Ellen White instructed the church that the work done in New York should be a “symbol” for the world. The Manhattan Revelation of Hope outreach has focused on a comprehensive approach with multiple community health programs, English language classes for Hispanic immigrants, family life presentations, small group Bible study fellowships, massive literature distribution, personal in home Bible Studies as well as public evangelistic meetings.
The Revelation of Hope Manhattan series with Pastor Wilson is part of a much larger outreach to Greater New York and neighboring New Jersey and Southern Connecticut. In one of the largest outreaches in Seventh-day Adventist history over 400 evangelistic meetings are being conducted in 2013. As of the end of June well over 2000 individuals will have been baptized. Pastors, lay people and church administrators are actively involved in the mission of the church. In addition to the comprehensive evangelistic outreach in the Metropolitan New York Area, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is sponsoring an international field school of evangelism for the world field. Over 300 delegates representing each of the thirteen world divisions are sharpening their evangelistic skills. These international delegates will return home to their respective countries to share what they have learned and lead out in comprehensive evangelistic initiatives. Massive evangelistic outreach plans are in place for over 650 cities in the world. Commenting on the Manhattan Revelation of Hope Series, Pastor Wilson summarized it well when he said, “What is happening in New York is thrilling and will not end with New York. It will have a major impact on the world.”
—Mark Finley is special assistant for evangelism to the Seventh-day Adventist world church president.