Our Adventist pioneers believed Jesus would soon come to end earth’s history and to reclaim His people. If not in 1844, then soon! They continually believed in the imminent return of their Savior. They directed their time, energy, and finances towards “finishing the work” so Jesus would come; some did so to the exclusion of attaining worldly accomplishments or achieving personal betterment. They accepted the adage that only what’s done for Christ will last.
The principle of imminence keeps our focus on the importance of the spiritual life. In Solomon’s early reign he showed his dependence on God by asking for wisdom to govern the people. Later on he was caught up with managing his 300 wives and 700 concubines and with building up the glory of his kingdom. Only as an old man did he lament in the Book of Ecclesiastes the loss of his relationship with God. If the return of Jesus is imminent in our consciousness, then we will be spared Solomon’s fate.
As vice president for evangelism for ASI, I am privileged to be involved with our plans and programs for preparing the world for the return of our Lord. ASI members are all about evangelism in its many facets. Some come to our convention thinking that they can network for profit. Some come hoping that ASI is an ATM machine for their projects. The convention is really about becoming inspired to be active and effective for evangelism. The perfect example is when Merlin and Bruce Fjarli heard the report of Garwin McNeilus on a huge evangelistic campaign in India. They said to themselves that if Garwin can do it, so can we. And they have done so—building over 800 churches and many schools. ASI has had a formative role in expanding the Adventist Church in India as a “broker of inspiration.”
Under the leadership of Ted Wilson, GC president, there has been a renewed emphasis on evangelism in the world field. Elder Wilson has committed to personally hold an evangelistic meeting in a target country each year: Zimbabwe in 2015, Rwanda in 2016, Eastern Europe in 2017, and Japan in 2018. ASI has been instrumental in supporting these programs. New Beginnings sermons have been provided in electronic and printed formats in the local languages. This has been funded by a share of the overflow offerings taken at the convention.
In Rwanda, where there were over 100,000 baptisms in the spring of 2016, about 20 percent of the sites did not have electricity. Yet decisions were made because the speakers could present the subjects from the printed sermon manuals provided by ASI in the Rwandan language. As a result, church leaders realized a need for materials for such venues. At the convention in 2016 in Arizona, a number of the division presidents requested that an evangelism picture roll be prepared that could be used to present both doctrinal subjects and health subjects. The ASI board and Missions, Inc., are now deeply involved in crafting a prototype picture roll for use around the world. The division presidents have said they could put 250,000 such rolls to use, and it is hoped that this major project will be implemented in 2017.
In addition to traditional preaching evangelism, which is supported by offering free downloads in 35 languages, on our website at www.asiministries.org/newbeginnings a Play It version of the New Beginnings series has been placed, which allows a person to play through a complete sermon with a professional voice on an audio track. An interactive online Bible study based on the New Beginnings sermons is in preparation for release early in 2017.
ASI has been privileged to be a source of evangelism ideas and materials for the world church.