The year 2020 will certainly never be forgotten—with a global pandemic, social unrest, natural disasters, political and economic instability, and more. Many of us were glad to finally put this year behind us. But can we expect any better in 2021? Little did we know, just one year ago, what the past 12 months would bring. No one could have anticipated how swiftly life would change for us all.
And what about the church? How have we weathered the storm of 2020, and what can we expect for the future? I’m happy to report that in spite of the many challenges of this past year, through His Spirit God’s mission has continued to move forward.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world in early 2020, churches, schools, workplaces, communities, entire countries, were locked down in an effort to stop its spread. With restrictions in place, we could no longer gather in churches for Sabbath School, worship services, and fellowship meals; youth could no longer meet for Adventist Youth meetings; Pathfinders and Adventurers could no longer enjoy their campouts and other activities. Large evangelistic meetings could no longer be held in public venues, and many health outreach and other public programs had to be reconsidered.
GOD’S WORK CONTINUES
Nevertheless, God’s work continued. With energy and creativity, church leaders and members alike thought of new and creative ways to continue spreading God’s Word and bringing together His people in a variety of ways.
A series of video messages, titled Dear Coronavirus, was conceived by communication leaders in Europe and was soon translated into numerous languages and sent around the world. Social media was used in an unprecedented way to send out messages of hope and encouragement. Division presidents spoke directly to members within their territories through video messages filled with spiritual nourishment. Local churches that had never before considered livestreaming their services began streaming. Evangelistic meetings were moved online, with tens of thousands of people watching each night. Virtual choirs were soon providing much-appreciated music online. Podcasts reached many with messages of hope. Creative programming for children and youth—including Sabbath School programs, Vacation Bible Schools, even virtual youth camps—was provided over the Internet. Zoom and similar platforms were used for both small- and large-group meetings.
We also praise God that in many areas, in-person ministry was able to continue, with proper safety precautions, of course. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency continued to provide muchneeded relief to many vulnerable communities. Many local churches provided food to those most in need. Medical missionaries on the front lines continued their important work of ministering to those who were sick and provided excellent health education.
These are just some of the many ways that God’s precious people have been proclaiming truth, love, righteousness, and hope. The Holy Spirit has motivated and directed God’s people around the world to use every means possible to proclaim His precious message. How thrilling to know that even during these difficult times the three angels’ messages have been circling the globe.
NEW METHODS, SAME MESSAGE AND MISSION
Looking toward the future, we can rest assured that no matter what may come, God will provide the ways and means for His mission to continue moving forward. Much of what we have learned, and the creative methods we have used during this pandemic, will continue to be employed in the days to come. These circumstances have simply given us yet more ways to reach the world for Christ and provide ongoing ministry opportunities.
While our methods may need to adapt to changing circumstances, our God-given message and mission remain the same—to reach out to a hurting, confused world with hope and healing, proclaiming the three angels’ messages, and inviting everyone to worship their Creator, to accept His righteousness by faith, and to surrender fully and completely to Him.
God’s message, His teaching contained in His Word, the Bible, is timeless. It has weathered countless storms down through the ages. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8).
BUILD ON THE ROCK
There’s no doubt why Christ invites us to build on rock. Closing His sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt. 7:24-27).
Ellen White offered this timely counsel: “There are stormy times before us, but let us not utter one word of unbelief or discouragement. Let us remember that we bear a message of healing to a world filled with sin-sick souls.”*
Friends, we’ve been through stormy times last year, and we know from God’s sure prophetic Word that more are to come. Yet He who promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), bids us to build on the Rock, then go and reach the world for Him.
He will show us the way.
* Ellen G. White, Christian Service (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1925), p. 136.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.