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2016 NSD ANNUAL COUNCIL
PRESIDENT'S REPORT(Nov. 3, 2016) / Jairyong Lee
- 1. Introduction
Christ’s Second Coming is nearing to us. We closely feel it every moment. The world rapidly becomes like Sodom and Gomorrah with full of violence, immorality, secularism and pleasure-seeking spirit. People are suffering from accidents, diseases, social injustice and frequently visiting natural disasters. Satan is apparentely working hard than ever before to detroy man’s life because he knows his time is short. It is very obvious that we are living in the end-time of the history of the Planet Earth.
In this difficult and troublesome time, God has chosen us to deliver His warning messages of Rev 14:6-12 to the people. He has given this mission to us to execute especially in the vast territory of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division which is full of mission challenges.
Mission challenges seem to be in everywhere. Multitude of people are moving from countyside to large cities looking for more convenient life and job opportunities. Urbanization brings more complicated life to the people. They are busy day and night to reach their temporal goal of life, and it seems they are less and less interested in the spiritual matter. Evangelism becomes more challenging as time goes by both in urban and rural areas.
But Christ’s command to do evangelism never wavers. It echos in our ears more loudly as we approach nearer to the end of time. Jesus commands: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” (Matt 28:19-20) and He promises us, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." This is our mission. Yes, we are the people of mission!
2. Highlights of Major Events and Mission Activities
Among many events and mission activities we had during the last 12 months, a few of them are listed here in the report. All these activities were successfully done by the grace of God and our corporate effort under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we give glory to God.
- (1) Union Constituency Meetings
Union quinquennial constituency meetings were held and officers and departmental directors were elected for the new term:
The Chinese Union Mission (CHUM) constituency meeting was held on December 1-2, 2015 in Hong Kong. Officers were appointed during the NSD Quinqunnial Council: Pastor Robert Folkenberg, Jr., president; Pastor Daniel Jiao, Executive Secretary and Elder Johhny Wong, Treasurer. Elder Johhny Wong received and accepted a call from Hong Kong-Macao Conference and moved to the conference in July 2016, and the NSD Executive Committee has appointed Elder Andy Chen to serve as a new treasurer of CHUM.
The Korean Union Conference (KUC) held its constituency meeting on December 7-9, 2015 in Seoul, Korea. Officers were elected: Pastor Choon Kwang Hwang, president; Pastor Kawang Soo Park, executive secretary and Pastor Shin Yeon Lee, treasurer. A few weeks after the constituency meeting, Pastor Yang Hee Shin was elected by the KUC Executive Committee to serve as the KUC executive secretary replacing Pastor Kawng Soo Park who was elected to serve as president of East Central Korean Conference during its constituency meeting in January 2016.
The Japan Union Conference (JUC) held its constituency meeting on January 13-15, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Officers were elected: Pastor Masumi Shimada, president; Pastor Toshio Shibata, executive secretary; and Elder Mitsuhiro Shinasue, treasurer.
Pastor Yo Han Kim was appointed to serve as the president of Mongolia Mission during the NSD Quinqunnial Council in November 2015.
The Taiwan Conference elected Pastor Lai Li Zhun to serve as the president of the conference during its special constituency meeting in December 2015. Pastor Lai replaced Pastor Steven Wu who was elected to serve as the NSD field secretary and associate director of Stewarship Department during the NSD Qunquennial Council in November 2015.
Now, by the grace of God and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all union leaders were chosen for the new quiqennial term and we have started working together with united heart and renewed commitment to accomplish the gospel commission in the NSD’s vast territory.
- (2) Ted Wilson’s Visit to Japan and Hong Kong
Pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference President visited Japan and Hong Kong on March 11-14, 2016 and March 14-17, 2016 respectively. In Japan, he had a special meeting with young people in Tokyo Central Church on March 11, 2016. About 300 young people attended the meeting and listened to the encouraging message of the GC president. On March 12, 2016, Sabbath, about 1,000 people met in Chiba, Japan and worshipped together with Ted Wilson.
After spending 4 days in Japan, Pastor Ted Wilson moved to Hong Kong and attended the Chinese Ministries Convention and encouraged the participants. On March 16 (Wed), he spoke to hundreds of church members during the prayer meeting in Kowloon Sam Yuk Secondary School.
Pastor Ted Wilson is planning to visit Japan again in May 2018 to conduct evangelistic meetings as a part of evangelism 2018 in Japan.
- (3) NSD Departmental Advisory Meetings
Once in five years, usually after the General Conference quinquennial session, the NSD is inviting all departmental directors of unions and conferences to discuss and plan together for the departmental work in the ensuing five years. This is an important occasion for making a clear understanding of the nature of the departmental work and a development of the spirit of unity among the departmental leaders of the church.
Beginning with Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Departmental Advisory meeting on March 23-25, 2016, most of departments have fished their advisory meetings. Directors and/or associate directors of GC departments came to guide these meetings, and all departmental directors of unions and conferences participated in the advisories. They discussed and planned together for their departmental activities during the new quinqennial term.
- (4) The Third Retention and Reclamation Summit and Midyer Committee in Mongolia
The third Retention and Reclamation Summit was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on May 16-17, 2016. The union and conference leaders met together and discussed some workable strategies to reach more people, to retain more baptized members and to reclaim the missing members. There were progress reports from each union, spiritually stimulating lectures and inspiring testimonies by a few frontline pastors.
According to the General Conference ASTR (Archives, Statistics and Reaearch) office report, about 45% of baptized members are leaving the church. It seems the situation in the NSD territory is even worse than the world church situation. The NSD’s retention rate is about 33%. We have so many missing members and we are losing thousands of members every year. Through the Retention and Reclamation Summit, all church leaders were strongly stimulated to do something special to improve the retention rate.
The Retention and Reclamation Summit was followed by NSD Midyear Committee meeting in the same vanue on May 18-19, 2016. “Vision One Million 2020” was seriously discussed and voted as the NSD mission goal of new quiquennium.
(5) The 2nd NSD Leadership Summit in Bangkok, Tahiland
On September 19-21, 2016, the 2nd NSD Leadership Summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand. About 150 church institutional leaders attended the meeting. It is a quiquennial event for the top leaders of church entities and church institutions within the NSD territory. Pastor Lowell Cooper, former GC vice president was invited as a guest speaker. He gave two presentations on the Holy Spirit and Christian Mission. Pastor Ron Clouzet, NSD Ministerial Secretary also gave two presentations on New Testament Leadership and Mission, and Seven Principles of Moses’ Leadership. Mission was emphasized as the top priority in the church institutions.
The very reason of the existence of church on earth is for salvation of men and women. Ellen White stated, “It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world.” (AA,9) Likewise, the church institutions were established for the mission of the church.
All summit participants have renewed their commitments as leaders of church institutions to the Lord and the work He has entrusted to them. Mission First in All Activities!
(6) Dedication of the Leadership Training Center Chapel
The newly constructed chapel of the NSD Leadership Training Center in Jeju was inaugurated on October 29, 2016. About 200 church leaders from NSD and KUC and church members in Jeju Island attended the service.
The Leadership Training Center had its groundbreaking ceremony on September 1, 2013 with the presence of Pastor Ted Wilcon, GC president and union presidents and church members in Jeju Islnad. In the last three years, about 800 people visited the center and received spiritual blessings through intensive training programs.
The chapel was constructed with the donation money from individual donors. One of the generous donors, Elder Hong, Myung Ki, an Adventist business man in the United States has donated 300,000USD that is about 50% of the construction cost. We sincerely appreciate those individuals who have supported with prayers and financial contributions for the construction of the Leadership Training Center Chapel.
3. “Vision One Million 2020”
We have voted a mission goal for this quinquennium, “Vision One Million 2020.” The goal seems very high and almost impossible to reach when we consider the past trend of church growth. The membership growth during the past 5 years has been very slow. We baptized about 80,000 people in the past 5 years and the annual church growth rate was about 2.6% or about 13% in 5 years. The church growth is extremely slow when we consider the enormously large population in the territory. We need to be more passionate for evangelism. We cannot simply depend on conventional type of mission activities. We need extraordinary mission strategies, extraordinary resourses and extraordinary commitment to reach the goal of one million membership by 2020.
But we believe nothing is impossible with God. Jesus said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Ellen White encouraged us saying, “We are altogether too narrow in our plans. We need to be broader minded” (Ev, 46). We need to aim high, earnestly pray for it, and work together with united hearts to accomplish the task. By the grace of God and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can certainly reach the goal.
We still have many mission opportunities in our territory. However, these opportunities will not stay with us always. Evangelism will become much more challenging in the near future. People become more humanistic, materialistic and egocentric as time passes by to survive in the highly competitive society. “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)
In order to reach the one million membership in NSD during the new quinquennium, we should put Mission our top priority in all activities, and all church members need to enthusiastically participate in the soul winning activities.
4. Total Member Involvement
To reach the goal of one million membership by 2020, we need Total Member Involvement. Ellen White, time and again, emphasized that everyone in the church should get involved in the mission of the church. She states, “It is the privilege of every Christian, not only to look for, but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (COL, 69); “Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary” (DA, 195); “Every follower of Jesus has a work to do as a missionary for Christ, in the family, in the neighborhood, in the town or city where he lives” (2T, 632); “To save souls should be the life work of everyone who professes Christ” (ChS, 10); “Everyone who has received Christ is called to work for the salvation of his fellow men” (AA, 110).
In this mission, all church entities should be actively involved; all church institutions should seriously participate; all church departments should be absolutely mission focused; all church workers need to be mission oriented; and all church members should work as missionaries of Christ. This is Total Member Involvement.
The Total Member Involvement has been widely promosted in NSD territories. It seems mor and more people are involved in soul winning activities.
When all church members are working together with united heart and when all church members are actively involved in the mission of the church, the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon the church as the latter rain with a great power to finish the gospel work. Ellen White wrote, “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers” (GW, 352).
- 5. Mission to the Cities
Large city evangelism is always very challenging because of the complexity of city life and secular and materialistic nature of its social structure. More and more people are moving to metropolitan cities from rural areas seeking jobs and a more convenient life. It seems that large city evangelism becomes more challenging as time goes by, and the church is helpless in starting new congregations in cities because in many places it requires an enormous amount of money to prepare meeting places.
There are about 120 one million-plus-population large cities in the NSD territory, and all of them have tremendous mission challenges. Millions upon millions of people in cities need to hear the gospel message of eternal life in Christ. As Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Lk 19:41; DA, 576), He is also weeping today for modern cities because most people in urban areas are perishing without knowing the Savior of the world. Pointing at cities, Jesus is telling us, “lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:35) God is the Lord of the harvest, and we are His chosen workers in finishing the gospel work. Let us pray and work together so that the “mission to the cities” may be accomplished soon in the near future.
Almost one hundred large cities are in China. How can we reach millions of people in large cities with the gospel message? From October 1-9, 2016, a public evangelistic meeting was held in Nanjing City, China with Elder Mark Finley as a speaker. Thousands of people attended the meeting everyday and heard the message of hope in Christ. At the end of the meeting, on Sabbath, 218 precious people were baptized, and many others are further studying the Bible for baptism. We hope that the Lord open the door of evangelism in China more widely so that we may conduct evangelistic meetings in many more large cities in China.
There were evangelistic meetings in 13 locations simutaenously in Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia from September 3-10, 2016. On the last day, Sabbath, they had a combines worship service in a rented auditorium. About 800 people attaneded the meeting. In the afternoon, 198 precious people were baptized in a river. The Mongolia Mission is planning to hold an evangelistic meeting in Ulaanbaatar City in May 2017 with “It is Written” team.
The Taiwan Conference is planning to hold evangelistic meetings in three large cities in Taiwan: Taipei, Taichung and Tainan, in December 2016.
- 6. "Mission First in All Activities!"
In order to rapidly achieve the ultimate purpose of church, MISSION should be the top priority in all activities, corporately and individually. The success of the departmental work should not be measured by the appearance of events or programs but by the contributions to the effectiveness of the gospel work. Likewise, the success of institutions should be measured by their contributions to soul winning rather than just by the financial success.
“Mission First in All Activities” should be daily practiced by every ecclesiastical entity including church organizations. Furthermore, as Christ’s followers it is our conviction and obligation to live every moment with the compelling spirit of “Mission First.” This is the way that we can reach the world with the gospel message in a short period of time.
“To everyone who becomes a partaker of His grace, the Lord appoints a work for others. Individually we are to stand in our lot, saying, ‘Here am I; send me.’ Whether a man be a minister of the Word or a physician, whether he be a merchant or farmer, professional man or mechanic, the responsibility rests upon him. It is his work to reveal to others the gospel of their salvation. Every enterprise in which he engages should be a means to this end” (PK, 222).
When we are united in “Mission First” spirit and move forward together to fulfill the mission of the church, the power of the Holy Spirit will be poured upon us without measure. God will use us in unusual ways to reach unreached people with the gospel message. Then the goal of the “Vision One Million 2020” will be reached by the grace of God and through His divine power.
7. Concluding Remarks
- There are enormous mission challenges almost everywhere in the NSD territory. It seems evangelism becomes more difficult as time passes by. By the grace of God, however, the work is steadily growing and many people receive baptism and join the church.
We will continue to move forward together with “Mission First” spirit and encourage all church members, young and old, male and female to be involed in the mission of the church. Total Member Involvement!
When we work together with “Mission First” spirit, and when every member is involved in the mission of the church, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will surely reach one million membership by the year of 2020.
Dear Executive Committee Members, in behalf of the NSD staff, I sincerely thank you for your prayers and wholehearted support. Let us continue working together with the spirit of unity and cooperation until we completely finish the gospel mission in our given territories. By the grace of God and through the power of the Holy Spirity, yes, we can do it. May God continue to use us as His humber yet powerful instruments in finishing His work!
May the Lord continue to bless the NORTHERN ASIA-PACIFIC DIVISION!