In reality, Global Mission is far older than 20 years. Jesus started the global mission of the church when he commanded “Go ye therefore…..” It is inspiring to read of the vision, passion and sacrifice of the early Christians. This spirit was caught by the early pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They set aside all other priorities, crossing mountains, deserts, continents and oceans to proclaim the urgent message of Revelation 14: 6-12. From humble small beginnings the Holy Spirit has provided the miracle of growth.
In the mid 1800s the church grew rapidly across North America. By the 1880s a global mission movement had begun that soon captured the hearts and prayers of Adventists, establishing a mission culture that still focuses the church today. Church membership has doubled, tripled and multiplied many times over. The ratio of Adventist to population has steadily come down from 1 Adventist for every 36,000 population, to 1 Adventist for every 400 population today. The growth has included establishing 70,000 churches, 7,000 schools, 400 hospitals, and numerous publishing houses and food factories. There is little question that the Lord has been leading and guiding the church.
However, in 1988, planning began for a new vision of mission. The millions of unreached people in the former Soviet Union, China, India and the Islamic world reminded church leadership that a great challenge remained. Nearly 70% of the world population lived in these territories, now known as the 10/40 Window. Less than 10 percent of the church membership was thinly scattered across these countries.
In 1989, the General Conference Executive Committee voted a strategy called Global Mission. Its purpose was to establish at least one church among every population segment of one million in the world. The 10/40 Window was named as priority number one.
Work began immediately. In 1990, church membership had just reached six million. The church was establishing one new congregation every day and more than a thousand people joined the church daily. Though these figures were encouraging, their focus didn’t significantly impact the 10/40 Window. A new emphasis and system of church planting was established. This system was implemented by the missions and conferences scattered across the 10/40 Window and was made possible by dedicated church members who returned faithful tithes and mission offerings, passionately furthering the culture of mission.
Since 1990, world membership has grown to 17 million and in the 10/40 Window; membership increased more than 270%. Territories outside the 10/40 Window, during the same period of time, increased 95%. Thousands of new congregations have been established in the 10/40 Window. Church membership in the former Soviet Union has exploded, including the establishment of new schools, a new college, a publishing house, and medical clinics. China has increased membership from 18,000 to 400,000. India has increased membership from 318,000 to more than 1.4 million.
Many would point to some of these indicators and conclude they represent unprecedented milestones of success for the Church. While we praise God for His blessing, these milestones don’t represent the Church’s greatest accomplishment. The evidence of the Holy Spirit, working in the lives of people who have nurtured and facilitated the culture of mission in this generation, is God’s greatest accomplishment in the church.
Responsibility rests heavily on leadership to work tirelessly with the Holy Spirit, fueling the flame of mission, to burn in the heart of every member. As the torch of Jesus’ mission passes to a new generation, may God say, “They have been faithful.”
Mission 360° features inspiring stories about mission work.
One day while Rajah was holding a Bible study, a mob approached his house, brandishing sticks and swords.