Baptism of 51 people included a North Korean and a 90-year old.
The 2018 International Mission Congress (IMC) of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) is already history, but its influence lingers on, said church leaders and organizers as they reflected on the event that took place in Goyang, Korea, August 8-11, 2018. The IMC gathered thousands of church leaders and members from across the NSD territory for full days of testimonies, plenary sessions, and workshops.
The event was also an opportunity for representatives from around the world to learn new techniques and skills to spread the gospel in their respective countries and beyond, leaders said. According to organizers, world church leaders also celebrated and encouraged the vision of the NSD leaders in promoting the mission of the church.
This year, IMC, which takes place every six years, had a specific presentation of the national mission in the five countries comprising the NSD — Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. “Each country shared its mission issues, challenges, and major projects,” leaders reported. “They also requested earnest prayers from sister churches around the world.”
Participants had time also to expand their understanding of global missions by hearing news from various territories beyond the NSD, such as the Middle East, north Africa, and the Bangladesh church region.
Highlight on Cultural Content
Organizers and participants said they will remember the 2018 IMC for a long time partly because of the variety of high-quality cultural performances throughout the event. Highlighted offers included various styles of music, videos, and performances specially designed for the occasion, as well as storytelling. “[Performances] made the message more compelling and powerful,” they said.
Shulammi’s musical drama performance “Promise of the People — Caleb,” for example, helped attendees see the gospel commission and the promise of the Second Coming in a new light. World-class artists such as baritone Hyun-soo Choi, cellist Yoon-soo Yeo, and violinist Nan-ju Lee contributed to the overall feeling of praise through their music. Korean traditional dance Taepyungmu and Taiwan’s unique folk dance also caught the attention of the thousands who attended.
At small concerts held every afternoon in the lobby of the Event Hall, people were invited to praise God in one voice.
A Unique Baptismal Ceremony
In a ceremony on the afternoon of August 11, 51 people showed that they had accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and were born again through baptism. Among the new members was a North Korean who managed to escape to South Korea and found freedom in Jesus. Adventist Church president Ted Wilson baptized the North Korean and congratulated him on his rebirth. A 90-year old woman was also among the baptized.
Starting at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon, outdoor mission festivals followed, including a visit to a Korean war memorial in Imjingak, where participants held a prayer meeting for the mission in North Korea. Other guests paid a visit to Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery. Around that area, in a district of Seoul, many distributed bottled water to passers-by.
Separate meetings for children, called Vacation Bible School (VBS), helped parents to focus on the rally and other activities. The VBS program followed the theme of Creation. A variety of activities for the children included Bible stories, crafts, songs, and rhythmic movements, providing memories the children will hardly forget, organizers said.
Other services of congress included counseling and prayer rooms for any participant or visitor in need.
Recommitted to Mission
The dedication and closing ceremonies on August 11 provided an opportunity for church leaders and members to recommit to the mission of sharing God’s message with their neighbors, friends, and others.
Testimonies included the life story of Yong-joon Kim, who, as he was trying to learn English at one of the Seventh-day Adventist language institutes in the region, got acquainted with the Adventist message. Since then, he has devoted his life to the work of the gospel. Kim walked to the stage with 100 of those who have accepted Christ’s truth through his ministry.
As part of the closing ceremony, gospel ministers and mission groups, including the 1,000 Missionary Movement, His Hands, Pioneer Mission Movement, medical missionaries, and self-supporting missionaries, stood together hand in hand. Every participant wore a red scarf with the theme words of the event, “TMI, GO FORWARD!” in a nod to Total Member Involvement (TMI), an initiative of the world church that seeks to get every member involved in sharing Jesus.
“[Participants] raised candles and cried out, ‘Lord, here I am. Send me,’” organizers shared. They also recommitted to sharing Jesus in a region of the world where around one-fourth of the world’s population lives.
“Our walk to our heavenly home continues,” church leaders said. “After all, our lifelong recommitment to mission has just begun.”