Inter-European Division president calls for focus on the essentials that unite the church.
Published on: 11-20-2019
Addressing the Executive Committee of the Inter-European Division region (EUD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, division president Mario Brito highlighted the church’s mission and called leaders and members to be consistent in living out that mission, focusing on what unites the church. Brito’s remarks were part of his annual report to the regional church delegates during the year-end meetings in Lyon, France, on October 30, 2019.
During his presentation, Brito also called church leaders and members to focus outwardly to reach others.
“We do not succeed if we do not pay attention to the needs of the society that surrounds us,” he said at the beginning of his report. “We must be attentive to how we reach the heart of the people we contact. Some are not open to the message, while some are concerned and in search of truth.” Brito called church leaders and members to provide concrete answers. Then he proceeded to share what he called “some of the joys transmitted” to him.
Serving and Reaching Others
Brito opened that section of his presentation with comments on the 10th anniversary of video broadcasting by Stimme der Hoffnung (Voice of Hope), the Adventist media center located in Germany. “I have witnessed the joy of the employees but also the joy of the donors that are giving more and more because they [relate] with the project.” People of various religious backgrounds are regularly watching Adventist programs, he said.
Next, Brito mentioned projects related to refugees, Muslims, and other targeted people in search of spiritual support. He presented the success of evangelistic initiatives, especially those led by lay members, and gave particular attention to the number of training opportunities for lay members. “All unions involved in training lay members are seeing the results,” Brito emphasized.
One example among many is Spain, where the lay members are involved in small action groups, thus giving birth to other churches. In Romania, mission is supported by schools that have been focusing on the role of Adventist education. According to Brito, many have been baptized because of the mission work of the schools.
“As a region, we are investing in global mission projects, especially in what is known as ‘Centers of Influence,’” Brito said. “We have them in almost all our region’s countries, and we can see how they help to strengthen the sharing of the gospel message.”
In the second part of his report, Brito referred to some of the hotly debated topics in the Adventist Church in the past few years.
“It is essential that we remain united,” Brito said in response to such discussions. “We must remember that the work is the work of the Holy Spirit, not ours. If we want to succeed, we have to work in cooperation with the Spirit.”
Working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, Brito emphasized, is much more than praying for each other, meeting on pleasant occasions, or working on wonderful projects. It is the experience of an attitude of unity.
“Not everything is easy,” Brito conceded. “We have discussions about some issues, but we are united.” And he added, “We are aware that we [will not] have the same opinion for everything. What makes a difference is that we try to listen to each other.”
Unfortunately, Brito said, sometimes the church climate seems to mirror polarizations in society. It is not the way to go, he emphasized.
“If we [focus] on ourselves, our reasons, our arguments, we [go] nowhere,” Brito said. “We must be attentive to each other, careful with the way we deal with our differences, being respectful of the opinions of the others. Unity is not uniformity.”
Brito said that God introduced “otherness so that we complement one another. Human beings were created different but complementary, and in this perspective, we can accept that we need each other; we can learn from the other.”
The Church as an Orchestra
“As a church, we should see ourselves as an orchestra,” Brito said. “An orchestra manages to harmonize various instruments.” In that regard, he called every member to allow the Holy Spirit to work even despite differences.
“My dream is to see the Holy Spirit use men and women that trust in God,” Brito said. “When we grow in maturity, respecting each other, loving each other, trusting that the Holy Spirit can work in my brother even if he thinks differently, then we’ll be ready to receive the promised latter rain,” he added, in reference to the Bible notion that compares the pouring out of God’s Spirit to coming of seasonal rain.
“I praise the Lord for everything we are doing in our territory; God is blessing us,” Brito said. “And I’m confident God will continue to bless us.”