The urban evangelism initiative has been launched by the General Conference with the intention to reach more than half of the worldwide population, living in urban centers with more than 200,000 inhabitants. Although historically Seventh-day Adventists have worked in large cities for decades, this initiative looks for united efforts with a specific plan and strategy for more effective evangelism in metropolitan areas and other large urban centers.
The General Conference plan embraces outreach initiatives in at least 650 major urban centers around the world with special emphasis in locations such as New York in the United States. With an approximate population of 19 million people who speak some 800 languages, New York symbolizes the type of challenge that has been set before the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist leaders to reach the large cities for Christ.
The plan, in general terms, is to equip pastors, local church leaders, and members alike to cooperate in an aggressive outreach effort to evangelize the world’s major cities by 2015, date of the next General Conference Session that will be held in San Antonio, Texas, USA. “Our Biblical message to the cities will unite us as a worldwide people and guard us from isolating ourselves from society and from each other. Our message to the cities of the world is that another city is coming: the New Jerusalem, a city of safety, hope and refuge with God at its center,” affirms Elder Ted Wilson, worldwide president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We are a worldwide church and in spite of our local and regional challenges we need to understand the size of the work that is before us as a remnant people. “. . . This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). A quick view of some of the largest cities of our planet shows the size of the challenge that we face (See below).
In spite of the size of the mission that these numbers present and a task that seems impossible, God has given proof that using simple or uncommon methods, He can bring about true missionary revolution. “God’s messengers in the great cities are not to become discouraged. . . . Let those engaged in soul-saving ministry remember that while there are many who will not heed the counsel of God in His word, the whole world will not turn from light and truth, from the invitations of a patient, forbearing Saviour. In every city, filled though it may be with violence and crime, there are many who with proper teaching may learn to become followers of Jesus. Thousands may thus be reached . . .”(Prophets and Kings, p. 277).
These numbers help us to analyze and understand the size of the mission that we still have to carry out in our region. Within this framework are the large cities, where we need to advance boldly with faith and power from the Holy Spirit. When we look at our urban centers, we recognized that many of them still have a small Seventh-day Adventist presence. Therefore, “We must . . . do our best, pressing forward with all the energy possible to make an opening in the large cities. Had we in the past worked after the Lord’s plans, many lights would be shining brightly that are going out” (Medical Ministry, pp. 301, 302).
|City||Country||Population||SDA Members||Population per|
|New York||United States||19,425,000||37,897||513|
|Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||11,950.000||17,865||669|