ifteen years ago, I was a Communist atheist,” said Andrey Ten, now a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and president of the Adventist Church in Uzbekistan, as the 95th
Annual Council of the world church opened on the evening of October 12 in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
Ten, who was interviewed as part of the missions-focused “Tell The World” program, said his life changed when an Adventist literature evangelist brought him a book about the Bible and the Gospel story: “I came to understand one truth, about the second coming of Jesus and that there would be no more death. I liked these ideas.”
He was baptized in 1992, six months after encountering the Adventist literature. Six years later, he was ordained a pastor and today serves in a very difficult area where, he admits, relations between the Uzbekistan government and Christian churches are strained.
Ten’s interview, by world church general vice president Mike Ryan, was one of four in which church workers serving on the “front lines” of evangelism told their stories. Eric P. Monnier, a longtime evangelist and church administrator, is going to Bangladesh, a nation of 150 million, because he was called to the task.
R. Danforth Francis, speaking to the audience of more than 300 church leaders via telephone from West Africa, said the church there will seek to reach territories where it is difficult to send workers via radio and other means, and asked Adventists to pray that they find innovative strategies. North India Union president Hidayat Masih said his area had grown to over 150,000 members because of evangelistic outreach done by members as well as pastors.
The emphasis on global outreach was highlighted in a homily delivered by Mark Finley, an Adventist Church general vice president and global evangelist. Commenting on Paul’s words in Acts 19:21, “I must go to Rome,” Finley said the apostle “was stating his bold intention to penetrate the capital of the world with the Gospel.”
Finley asked, “What is our Rome? Where are the cities that seem closed to the Gospel?”
The call to outreach was echoed by Pastor Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who welcomed delegates by noting, “We, as a church, have always been a missionary movement.”
Paulsen will deliver a keynote message to delegates on Sabbath morning, Oct. 13. The Annual Council meetings will continue through Oct. 17.