Ever since I became converted in college, I have always believed that the Adventist Church “was organized for missionary purposes”.[i] Contrary to what others may think, the Adventist Church is not just a social club, nor is it an employment, development, educational or temperance club. It is “a mighty mission movement, galvanized into action by the Lord Jesus Christ for the express purpose of winning lost people to Jesus.”[ii]
From an Adventist perspective, the Global Mission initiative came in response to the challenge of then GC President Neal Wilson in 1985. He lent his political will to the massive Seventh-day Adventist organizational machinery to begin initial research in the status of the church’s work among the unreached. Five years later, the church launched the Global Mission initiative during the General Conference session in 1990.
The SDA Church came into the mission scene right when the continental and inland mission mentality overlapped with each other. On the one hand there was still the colonial, continental, coastland drive of many Protestant mission boards. On the other hand, there was the prodding to go to the interiors of non-Christian continents. The impact of these competing missional thinking will be observable in later decades than at the beginning of Adventist mission history. Strategic overseas issues and missional thinking were not even in the minds of the early Adventist pioneers. When the Church was organized in 1863, it does not even have enough members and churches in the United States, let alone think of sending missionaries to non-Christian continents and countries. It was to take nearly a decade more before the Seventh-day Adventist Church would send its first denominational missionary overseas. And even when it sent its missionary, it was not to a non-Christian region but to the Christian continent of Europe.
by Abner P. Dizon
Needless to say, just as in the Protestant mission scene, there has ever been tensions between the three mission emphases and their proponents, we find the same tension of the “old school” of Adventist mission and the newer Global Mission practitioners. With such a large body of believers that comes from various stages or were brought in through various means and schools of thoughts, there will perhaps not come a time when we will have only one emphasis in missions. For the moment though, I am thankful that the direction of Adventist mission is still towards identifying the unreached and finding ways to reach them effectively.