By Colleen Tinker
Free Summer School yields Tanzanian Baptismal Candidates
The teachers at Nyanza Adventist Secondary School (NASS) in the Tanzanian city of Mwanza grabbed an opportunity to participate in the Seventh-day Adventist Total Member Involvement (TMI) initiative this summer. Realizing that parents of public school students “pay a lot of money” to obtain summer school for their children while school is on break, these teachers decided to make the local families an offer they couldn’t refuse: free summer school.
Sosthenes Mgunda, the headmaster at NASS, said the parents were “overwhelmed with joy and felt the offer was too good to be true” when they heard that the children could obtain free summer school. “Once they saw that the offer of free education was real with no strings attached, they enrolled their high school students for the summer session,” reports the Adventist News Network.
Ironically, the fact is there are strings attached. The Adventist teachers volunteered to teach without pay in order to have the opportunity “to have children from non-Adventist parents taste and experience the joy of Adventist education and go home with the Adventist message.” In addition to teaching an academic curriculum, they also taught Voice of Prophecy lessons on Adventist beliefs and gave free breakfasts to the students who represented Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant religions as well as others.
One hundred forty-four students completed the Voice of Prophecy lessons, and of those, 111 were not Adventists. Most of them are now “preparing for baptism,” the teachers reported. They stated that “this type of community-based evangelism would be done every year” from now on.
One of the parents whose child attended the summer session said “she had never seen such a kindness of a church before. As a non-Adventist, she commended the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tanzania for the intellectual growth and character development she has seen her son exhibit when he comes home from school each day.”
This summer school session is only one venue for the TMI initiative occurring in Tanzania. The three-week TMI evangelistic meetings in the country are currently under way in more than 5,000 venues.
1400 Baptized in the Philippines
Saturday, June 24, was the day 1,400 people were baptized into Adventism on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. This baptism “marks the first time Adventist World Radio has taken a frontline role in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Total Member Involvement evangelistic meetings,” said Duane McKey, the president of Adventist World Radio and the man who oversees the Total Member Involvement initiative.
This particular radio campaign began on March 1 with nine local radio stations airing from one to three hours of Adventist programming every day. Interestingly, the first three weeks of Adventist health and lifestyle program yielded little response. Consequently, programers tweaked the content and began offering “daily evangelistic sermons on topics such as the state of the dead and the seventh-day Sabbath.”
These doctrinal programs brought responses. “At 11 a.m. every day, listeners were asked a question about the previous day’s sermon, and the first five people who called in with the correct answer received a small radio, a copy of Ellen White’s book Steps to Christ, or another gift.”
McKey explained that interest burgeoned, and more and more people scrambled to find radios so they could listen to the sermons, take notes, and try to qualify for the next days’ quiz prizes.
Adventist World Radio would connect the callers with local churches near their villages, and the churches in turn sent Bible workers to study with the people and also organized TMI events such as health screenings and anti-drug marches.
Significantly, the demographics of the 1400 baptized did not reflect primarily new converts. Among the candidates “were dozens of former Adventists, an entire village of 85 people, and 12 villagers who hiked for 12 hours to reach the nearest river.”
“The radio broadcasts and evangelistic meetings also brought former Adventists back to church, and they were rebaptized on Sabbath,” Adventist News Network reports.
In addition to last Saturday’s 1400 baptisms, 100 more people are waiting to be baptized over the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Duane McKey reports that Adventist World Radio has decided to “expand its broadcasts and set up a permanent presence in the Philippines.”
“In Search of Hope” in Chile
The Adventist organization in Chile has just completed a nation-wide evangelistic campaign entitled “In Search of Hope”. Conducted from June 10–17, these meetings culminated in more than 1,000 baptisms into Adventism. Conference evangelists conducted the meetings throughout the country, and in one venue north of Santiago, every meeting was translated into Haitian Creole.
June is a winter month in Chile, but in spite of the rain and the cold, the meetings went on, and people attended.
Chilean church leaders agreed at the end of the meetings, “We continue to fulfill our mission of preaching the gospel as a witness to all nations; we want Jesus to come soon.”
The Adventist belief that Jesus is waiting for His Adventist people to “finish the work” so he can come is clearly revealed in this closing statement as well as in the concerted effort to build membership within the nation.
Weimar’s Total Campus Involvement launches this August
Weimar Institute was founded in Weimar, California, near Sacramento, in 1978. An independent Adventist school and health conditioning center, it has gained international attention within Adventism as a place that teaches “how to reverse and prevent disease through natural methods.”
Weimar president Don Mackintosh said, “We’re reaching around the world, but what about across the street? Locally, what are we doing?”
Weimar has found a way. Inspired by the Adventist organizations’ Total Member Involvement initiative, Weimar is launching “Total Campus Involvement” (TCI) this coming August. Part of the local program will involve “students and staff from Weimar’s college, academy, and clinic” committing half a day each week to community service.
The services Weimar personnel will offer will range from lifestyle and medical help to splitting wood, helping people with yard work, and doing errands for widows. Mackintosh says everything done under the banner of TCI will be connected to this central message: “We’re Seventh-day Adventist Christians, and we just did this because we are here for you. We want to be like Jesus. He went about doing good.”
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson has commended Weimar with these words, “The implications of everyone on the Weimar campus involved in extensive mission activity is exciting and portends a tremendous blessing from heaven as evangelistic outreach takes place on campus, in the community, and around the world. By God’s grace, may Total Campus Involvement become a model for many other campuses around the world as young people, faculty, and staff submit to the power of the Holy Spirit in following Christ’s method alone in reaching people and announcing Christ’s soon return.”
The Total Member Involvement Initiative is yielding a growing response from Adventist lay people as well as leaders. The community service front that camouflages the intentional proselytizing that follows deceives people, intentionally winning their confidence because they feel they are receiving free personal services. People are disarmed and undiscerning as the free classes, free medical and lifestyle help, and good deeds make them feel cared for. Then, when the Adventists invite these grateful people to meetings or church services, they are vulnerable.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that emerges as Adventism picks up thousands of new members is the numbers of Christians who are deceived as well. Even if they are not tempted to convert to Adventism, many Christians accept Adventists as partners in community ministry and outreach programs.
In underdeveloped countries, Adventism is especially effective at posing as a humanitarian organization and as a conservative and caring religion, often following on the heels of Christian missionaries and luring converts with the “complete truth” and promises of education and even employment.
In his talk “Adventist Missionary Threats” which he gave at the 2017 Former Adventist Fellowship Conference in February, Paul Carden, the executive director of the Centers for Apologetics Research, talked about Adventist missions and their startling success and recent growth. He cited five categories of outreach that have made them so successful: their publishing work done in 380 languages, their educational work with 8,000 schools worldwide, their international medical work, and their media centers including Adventist World Radio, Hope Channel, and various other television production houses, and finally, their entrepreneurial outreach of private businesses and corporations that do publishing, medical work, church building, and more in the name of Adventism.
Carden was adamant that Christians must take Adventism seriously and understand the threat it poses. He gave seven possible reasons Christian missionaries and missions leaders are not aggressively addressing Adventism:
1. Missions leaders and folks on the fields have not seen the doctrine for themselves. They have no idea how destructive the core of Seventh-day Adventism is.
2. They haven’t seen the data. They have no idea how boldly and rapidly Adventism is growing at the cost of biblical Christian missions work. Adventists are taking spiritual captives.
3. Christian missionaries and leaders haven’t understood Acts and the epistles, that actively guarding the flock against spiritual predators is a central and non-negotiable dimension of the New Testament missionary enterprise. It’s part of the job.
4. Perhaps they have a misplaced fatalism, that little or nothing can be done, so why try? You know, “The Cults you will have with you always…”
5. Perhaps missionaries feel encountering cultic groups on world mission fields might require some kind of distasteful dirty work, something that might be somehow beneath their dignity or outside the realm of anything that Scripture really requires.
6. Maybe they feel like it’s just enough to preach the gospel and everything else will sort itself out.
7. Some reason that Adventists just have hard hearts.
Carden concludes with a three-fold challenge:
1. We must pray. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We can outpray them, especially because we know the Person we are praying to.
2. We must warn people about Seventh-day Adventist missions and methods. We need to talk to missionaries, pastors, and leaders. We need to cultivate a strong reflexive and defensive posture like Christians have against Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness missionaries. Give Adventist missionaries a bad reputation, not because they aren’t sincere and hard working but because their teachings are dangerous.
3. We have to witness to Adventists and share the love of Christ with Adventists.
We pray that God will expose and break the power of Adventism and set its captives free, planting them deeply in His word.