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Israel’s Adventists Receive Wilson Warmly
G.C. President visits special Sabbath worship at Jerusalem’s YMCA
BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, Adventist Review, reporting from Jerusalem, Israel
With a festive air familiar to Israeli celebrations, Seventh-day Adventists in this nation – a tiny group in a small land – gathered to welcome Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, General Conference president, and his wife, Nancy, to Sabbath worship on June 16, 2012.
“It is a privilege to be here in this wonderful city,” Wilson said to hundreds of Adventists who came from all over Israel to the worship service. The congregation featured Israelis, Ethiopians, Russians, Moldovans, Filipinos and others, a veritable United Nations-class gathering of believers.
“What a privilege it is to walk where Jesus walked,” he added, reflecting on five days of study tours to Nazareth, Galilee, Qumran and the Dead Sea. “But we have the privilege each day of walking with Jesus!”
Fresh from addressing theologians and scholars on the need for a Bible-based “revolution” in Adventist education, Wilson assured the congregation that while he was here to attend the conference, “I wanted to meet you, too.”
He added, “I am convinced this city–and every city–needs the precious message of Jesus and His salvation. In this city, the message should be pronounced. We need to be united … especially in the Adventist Church in Israel, with so many nationalities in this place.”
The Sabbath morning worship followed the pattern of many Adventist services around the world, with the added flavor of songs in Hebrew and announcements and preaching translated into Russian, spoken by many in the congregation. Both Wilson and Pastor Julio Mendez, secretary-treasurer of the Israel Field, relied on Pastor Oleg Elkine to render their English into Russian, although Wilson – who spent two years as president of the Euro-Asia Division, offered more than a few sentences in Russian as well.
In his message, Wilson commented on what happened here some 2,000 years ago, and its relevance for today.
“In this very special place in the world, Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again, one cannot see the kingdom of God,” he explained. “This is what we need and what every person in Israel needs.”
Following the service, a steady stream of church members pressed close to greet Wilson or stage a quick picture. Mobile phones and sophisticated cameras jostled for space as, one after another, the requests were made and smilingly granted.
Wilson is due to meet with Israeli officials on June 18; his visit will conclude on June 21.