At the 2002 Annual Council, Seventh-day Adventist world division leaders chose 2004 as "The Year of World Evangelism." This is a bold step forward in fulfilling our Lord's primary commission of Matthew 28:19, 20; and Revelation 14:6-12.
God has given this church a unique mission, one critical to the people of earth in the closing days of their history. It is to proclaim the everlasting gospel to the whole world in the power of the Holy Spirit. This issue of Ministry is devoted to this special evangelistic emphasis.
Evangelism is nothing new in our church. God has given us the opportunity to collaborate with Him in the greatest endeavor ever given to human beings: to share Jesus and the reality of His promise to come again to the world, and to call our fellow human beings to the true worship of God.
The "Year of World Evangelism 2004 Reaping God's Harvest" (YWE 2004) is a rallying cry to place our total confidence in God. YWE 2004 is designed to build on all kinds of personal and public evangelistic endeavors, including "Go 1 Million" and "Sow 1 Billion," currently being conducted by God's people around the globe.
YWE 2004 calls on every member, young or old, every pastor, every worker, every administrator, every congregation, every supporting ministry, every school, every publishing house, every medical facility, and every church institution to participate actively in this worldwide soul-winning outreach.
The initiative will involve all of us laity and pastors united in evangelistic proclamation through personal evangelism, small-group evangelism, public evangelism, literature evangelism, health evangelism, and every conceivable means of technological communication, including radio, television, satellites, printed media, and the Internet!
YWE 2004 will give special evangelistic emphasis to reaching the millions in the urban centers of the world. There is the 10/40 Window where only about 5 percent of the people are Christians, and the secular, postmodern culture denies the need for the gospel.
Specific focus is to be directed toward young people, encouraging them to join with older members and pastors in an aggressive, all-out effort to bring the Bible truth of our message to the world. What an opportunity to serve the Lord, especially in the light of the end of world history.
Each division, union, conference/mission, and local church will undoubtedly have to adapt and contextualize the for mat or approach of YWE 2004 programs to fit their local needs. However, the message is clear... to lift up Jesus and point people to Him and His soon coming. It's an immense privilege to be part of God's advent movement embraced in the three angels' messages expressed so powerfully in Revelation 14:6-12.
One of the most important aspects of the YWE 2004 is to keep church members, pastors, evangelists, and leaders focused on our unique evangelistic mission sharing Christ with others in the context of this one-of-a-kind Adventist message. We may be sure that every satanic force will rally in an attempt to distract us from doing this.
The challenges ahead are huge. Only complete reliance on Christ and His Word will help us to stand the test, and do our task well. As we rise to this challenge, we need to spend specially concentrated time with our Lord, in our Bibles and with the particular gift that is ours in the works of the Spirit of Prophecy, which will be an indispensable blessing to all of us as we walk through this Year of World Evangelism 2004.
During YWE 2004, we need a growing understanding that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God's special movement, brought into being to share His message with the world. We need to uplift Christ more in our personal associations, and in the pulpit, pointing people to His second coming. Let's proclaim our message with heavenly power. We have distinctive beliefs rooted in the Bible, and we must not allow these to be compromised. We must positively point out Truth in all its glory!
Ellen White's counsel is timely: "In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watch men and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels' messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention." 1
Please pray for YWE 2004 and your fellow believers worldwide. Pray for the church's leadership and let's pray for one another as pastors, humbly asking the Lord to use us during this special year, as we share the Advent hope.
1 Ellen G. White, Last Day Events (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1992), 45, 46.