Northern Asia-Pacific Adventist leaders say there is a lot to be thankful for in 2021.
The Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church held its Year-End Meetings (YEM) November 1-8, 2021, with the theme “Reach the World: I Will Go, Make Disciples!” Year-End Meetings consisted of the pre-meetings (Nov. 1-3) and the region’s Annual Council (Nov. 4-7). The NSD annual meetings were conducted entirely on Zoom due to the ongoing pandemic.
Participating in the meetings were 42 delegates, including three leaders from the General Conference: vice president Artur Stele, associate secretary Claude Richli, and associate treasurer German Lust. In addition, 16 invitees attended the meeting.
NSD officers led the meetings from the NSD Media Ministry Studio on the fourth floor of the NSD headquarters in Paju, South Korea. The NSD secretariat team and the media ministry team worked together to organize the meetings so that the interactions and discussions went smoothly, leaders said. Translations into Chinese and Korean were provided.
Despite challenges, YEM presented many reasons to praise the Lord, leaders said.
GC leaders encouraged the delegates through their powerful devotional messages. At the opening of the meetings, Stele shared the context of the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. “Although the tomb of Jesus was shut with a stone, sealed and guarded, nothing and no one could prevent Jesus from the resurrection,” Stele said. “The angel seated on the stone represents God’s power to overcome any big challenges before His church. With that authority, Jesus gave the great commission: ‘Go therefore and make disciples!’ ” he said.
Richli connected the story of Jonah with the three angels’ messages. “As Jonah was sent to preach the message of repentance to the big city of Nineveh, we are also sent by God to proclaim the three angels’ messages to all nations,” Richli said. “We should not be afraid, because Jesus is with us.”
Lust presented about the encounter of the two disciples who were walking with Jesus to Emmaus. “In despair and discouragement, we need to focus on Jesus. If we lose focus on Him, we will not be able to do His work successfully,” he said.
In his report, NSD president Si Young Kim highlighted the fact that “despite the pandemic of COVID-19, our church pastors, workers, local churches, institutions, and church members never gave up.” The president reminded listeners of the focus of NSD for this quinquennium. “NSD took into consideration the direction of the following four aspects: Mission to the Cities, Youth and Children Evangelism, North Korea Mission, and Digital Evangelism,” he said.
As the NSD acting executive secretary Richard Sabuin presented his report, he focused on ways to increase the number of baptisms and church attendance. During these two years of the pandemic, the membership and attendance statistics have decreased compared to that of 2019, he reported. However, by September 2021, the number of baptisms was 21 percent higher than a year before.
Regarding members’ retention and church attendance, Sabuin said, “we cannot just wait for our church members to come to church at the church gate every morning. We are to visit them regularly, attending to their needs, encouraging and inviting them to attend church services.”
The treasury report brought encouraging news. NSD treasurer Joel Tompkins reported that regardless of the pandemic, God has blessed His people even more. It is evident by the 11-percent increase of tithes in each union and attached field as of August 2021.
Reports from the unions and attached fields were encouraging. The Japan Union Conference reported the progress of the Mission Unusual Tokyo! Project. The Korean Union Conference introduced its 10/40 Mission Project initiative. The Mongolia Mission shared about the integrated efforts of all departments and institutions in doing mission. The Taiwan Conference shared about the region’s effort to open outreach centers and an emphasis on media evangelism. Each union and attached field has established its I WILL GO Strategic Plan, in line with the GC and the NSD strategic planning.
After the presentation of each report, a special prayer was offered for God to bless the mission plan of the respective union or attached field.
NSD department directors presented their reports, even though they had just started their new assignments as directors in May 2021. Each of them has initiated new ideas for mission. One of the exciting reports came from the North Korea Mission department, a recently created department. “We hope to enter North Korea with the proclamation of the three angels’ messages when the door is open,” leaders said. Department director Beom Seok Oh noted that “North Korea is one of the ends of the earth. The North Korea Mission is putting huge efforts on itself and has transformed its mindset from ‘We will go when God opens the door’ to ‘God will open the door when we are ready,’ ” he said.
Training and Prayer
One crucial agenda item adopted from the General Conference was on the importance of strengthening the biblical foundation of church members. It is why the Executive Committee at the NSD Annual Council voted to coordinate with unions, attached fields, and local conferences to organize Bible studies or seminar programs that deepen the knowledge and belief of the church members on distinctive doctrines of the church. The first two sessions will take place in early February 2022, leaders said.
All delegates of the NSD Annual Council agreed to have special prayers for the GC Session, which is set to take place June 6-11, 2022. Leaders say that all institutions, local churches, families, and church members are encouraged to pray for this worldwide church meeting.
Reasons to Praise the Lord
The success of the NSD YEM is evidence of God’s protection and guidance, church leaders said.
The NSD annual meeting concluded with a video presentation prepared by Sahmyook Health University on its mission activities in 2021. Despite the pandemic, the mission programs have resulted in the baptism of 72 students.
The original version of this story was posted on the Northern Asia-Pacific Division news site.