Where the People Are

From our continuing revival and reformation series.

David Trim, PhD, serves as director, Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, General Conference, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

In April 1908, Walter Ising, a young German Adventist—just turned 27— and his wife, Frieda, arrived in the bustling port city of Beirut, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Sent to lead Adventist mission in the Middle East, Walter faced a huge task. At that time, there were only 29 Adventists in Arabic-speaking countries, and most of these countries had no Adventist presence

Hardly had Walter and Frieda arrived when both contracted typhoid fever. At the advice of other Westerners, they were moved out of Beirut into the hills. Left prostrate, Walter could no longer dream about how to transform the work; instead he devoted himself to prayer and reflection. He earnestly asked God to help them “find His people among the inhabitants of this land.”

Convicted that they needed to be where the people were, Walter and Frieda moved back to Beirut, where he started offering Bible classes. In 1909, he baptized a group of men. Several were from the Ottoman province of Mesopotamia— today’s country of Iraq—where, at the time, there were no Adventist workers. Thus, Ising had planted the seeds of the church in both Lebanon and Iraq.

All this happened because Walter Ising, on his sick bed, turned from his own planning to closer communion with Jesus. And, this in turn, prompted him to go into the city of Beirut, to live among the people. As Adventists today strive to tell billions of urbanites about Jesus, Ising’s experience reminds us that revival is a foundation for successfulmission to big cities.

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David Trim, PhD, serves as director, Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, General Conference, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

January 2016

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