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Youth missionary training results in new converts in Indonesia

Indonesia—Missionaries being trained in Indonesia held evangelistic meetings in two small towns. Most of the town residents are Muslims, and the rest belong to other Christian denominations.

White-clad people walking

A pair of young missionary women visited an older couple that was well respected in their local Christian church. The husband accepted Bible studies with the visiting missionaries. He had been a Christian for decades, but many of the teachings of the missionaries were new to him. “I have been so wrong in so many areas,” he said. The missionaries could tell his heart was warming up to the message.

Unlike him, his wife was not responding much to the studies, even though she also eventually decided to study the Bible with the visiting missionaries.

Finally, the moment of decision came. The man decided to be baptized, but his wife said, once again, that she was not interested.

On Friday morning, however, the day before the evangelistic meetings ended, the woman heard something astonishing from her neighbors at the marketplace.

“Yesterday at 4:00 a.m., we saw people in bright white clothes walking around,” the woman’s neighbors told her. “There were four of them, and we saw them in front of your house too.”

When the woman heard this, she was terrified that they might have been ghosts. When she returned home, she shared what she had heard with the young missionaries. The young women were so surprised when they heard this—it was the exact time they were walking around, praying in front of each home! That morning, they had decided to make a special round of prayers before leaving the town. When the woman heard this, she felt God was leading these missionaries and decided to be baptized with her husband and a neighbor.

On Sabbath morning, a total of seven souls, including the couple, were baptized in this town, and five were baptized in the nearby town. “We praise the Lord for what He has done,” said group coordinators. “Now we are praying that the Lord will keep doing a mighty work in Indonesia.”

[Nam Jinkoo | Northern Asia-Pacific Division and Adventist Review]

World church leaders learn about evangelism and church growth in Inter-America

Miami, Florida, United States—Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders from around the world recently toured five major regions (Miami, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, and Mexico) across the Inter-American Division (IAD) to witness evangelism initiatives in action, learn about church growth, and look in on the community impact taking place across the territory.

The tour was part of an initiative proposed by top world church leaders in an effort to foster more integration among division leaders and to learn methods, initiatives, and activities that make the difference in each regional territory, explained Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.

Elie Henry, executive secretary for the church in Inter-America, said the secretariat tour was a great opportunity for church administrators to witness the rich cultural diversity that makes Inter-America so special.

Leaders visited Jamaica, a country with the closest ratio of Seventh-day Adventists per population—one of every 12 persons is a Seventh-day Adventist.

The leaders were deployed throughout churches in Kingston, the capital city, and St. Catherine to preach Sabbath, June 10, 2017. They were part of a symposium highlighting activities taking place across the union’s five conferences; two institutions, Andrews Memorial Hospital and Northern Caribbean University; and the Good Samaritan Inn, which serves the needs of street people in Kingston.

“What we see happening at NCU is a perfect example of what it means that Seventh-day Adventists should be the head and not the tail through its information technology department and in business model competitions,” said G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the Adventist world church. Ng also described the work at the Good Samaritan Inn as one that should be emulated by other regions of the world.

Leaders headed to Panama to learn about the membership and financial growth of the church since it was reorganized into a union mission less than two years ago.

The tour group visited Haiti’s Adventist university, hospital, and union office in Port-au-Prince.

The next stop included a visit to Mexico City, a cosmopolitan area with more than 21 million inhabitants, where the church faces one of its biggest evangelistic challenges.

The tour climaxed with a festival of small groups growing rapidly in Chiapas, Mexico. More than 13,000 members witnessed a festival on the growth of small groups and hundreds of baptisms and learned of the joint efforts of local pastors and church elders. The group joined church members in distributing literature during the Sabbath.

“We have been positively changed as a result of this experience,” stated John Thomas, associate secretary for the Adventist world church. “The itinerary, finances, union, and institutional administrators have all overwhelmed us with love and appreciation as fellow brothers and sisters. All have taught us what it means to be happy, loving, and generous Adventists.”

[Libna Stevens | Inter-American Division]

Youth Rush evangelism takes off in Japan

Okinawa, Japan—Thirteen high school and university students are bursting with stories about sharing their faith with a Buddhist monk, a Sunday church pastor, and others as Youth Rush literature evangelism takes off in Japan.

The students knocked on 18,938 doors and sold 2,032 books over three weeks on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Afterward, they excitedly spoke of miracles and a closer relationship with God.

“Before I joined Youth Rush, I did not really have an experience with God,” said Ikuya Chinami, a second-year university student.

“During Youth Rush, every day was filled with divine appointments,” he said, speaking on a YouTube video produced by the Adventist Church’s Japan Union Conference. “God works beyond our expectations. Sometimes people thanked us with tears for visiting them and praying with them.”

Youth Rush is a Seventh-day Adventist program that allows students to raise money for tuition while attempting to ground them in their faith. It originated in Southern California and has spread across the United States. A third-generation Japanese-American who participated in Youth Rush in California, Daniel Fukuda, brought the initiative to Japan last year.

“Ever since I experienced Youth Rush in California, I had this deep burden, desire, and vision that one day I wanted to start something like this in Japan,” Fukuda said.

The chance came when the Japan Union Conference president asked him to bring Youth Rush to Japan and to work as assistant to the director of the union’s youth and literature ministries departments.

Since July 2016, students have canvassed the country’s capital, Tokyo, two times and also gone door-to-door in Shizuoka, a southern city of 715,000 people.

At a Buddhist Temple Mayumi Kojima, a first-year university student, recalled struggling to sell books one day and the team leader telling her to go to a Buddhist temple. At the entrance of the temple stood a box labeled “The Great East Japan Earthquake Charity Offering.” Kojima immediately saw an opportunity. She was selling a book written by a Christian who had assisted in relief efforts after the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku.

“I introduced the book to the chief monk, and he bought a copy,” Kojima said.

“God commands me to go everywhere, including Buddhist temples. I didn’t think that I would sell the book at the temple.”

First-year university student Kurumi Ijiri said she showed her books to a Sunday church pastor. The pastor was not interested in those titles and asked whether she had any others. Ijiri cautiously pulled out a book titled No, Sabbath Is Saturday.

“This is it!” the pastor exclaimed. “This is the book I want!”

He explained that he was having Bible studies with his church members, and one of them had asked why Seventh-day Adventists worship on Saturday. The pastor did not know and had begun to wonder about the correct day of worship. The pastor paid Ijiri for the book and for a copy of The Great Controversy.

“A Sunday-keeping church pastor buying this book, No, Sabbath Is Saturday, was truly a miracle!” Ijiri said.

Japanese church leaders hope that the experience of Youth Rush will encourage young Adventists to remain faithful. Teenagers account for 30 percent to 40 percent of baptisms every year, but 40 percent to 50 percent of them leave the church by their mid-20s, said Yasuki Aoki, director of the youth and literature ministries departments of the Japan Union.

“Once they experience solid discipleship training and the joy of evangelism, they will not leave the church,” he said.

The Adventist Church has 15,270 members in Japan, a country of 127 million people, according to the Adventist Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.

Three more Youth Rush campaigns are planned for three other Japanese cities in 2017, and church leaders intend to schedule at least five campaigns every year.

Chinami said he is convinced that literature evangelism works. “Sometimes people are skeptical about literature evangelism work, but I know by experience that there are people waiting for our visits,” he said. “God is eager to work through us.”

[Andrew McChesney | Adventist Mission]

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