Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a message, posted to YouTube on November 13, from president of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. Elder Wilson will release a new video each week. You can see past messages here.
Greetings, friends. I hope you have been blessed this week during the worldwide Week of Prayer. And now, as we come to the end of this special week, we have a wonderful opportunity to continue the blessing as we participate in the Annual Sacrifice Offering on Sabbath, November 14.
You might be asking yourself—how can sacrifice be a blessing? Well, let me share with you an interesting story about something that happened about 100 years ago.
In the early 1900s, Adventist missionary work was thriving. Missionaries were leaving their homes in great numbers, traveling to faraway places to share Jesus’ love and the important messages given by the three angels of Revelation 14.
Then, tragically, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic struck, killing millions of people and plunging the economy into a deep recession. Tithes and offerings dropped, and there wasn’t enough money to continue supporting the missionaries. Church leaders were afraid they would have to recall them.
So, during the Annual Council meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee, held September 20 to 27, 1922, in Kansas City, Missouri, the delegates prayerfully decided to ask church members to give a sacrificial one week’s wage to cover the quarter of a million dollar budget deficit that year.
In spite of the difficult conditions of the early 1920s, members responded by giving more than $350,000 over the following year to what became known as the Annual Week of Sacrifice Offering.
You know, the sacrifice that our world church membership of just 208,771 Seventh-day Adventists made back in 1922 is remarkable when their contribution is translated into today’s dollars. If we adjust for inflation, that contribution of $350,000 back then is equivalent to more than $4 million dollars today in purchasing power! And again, if we adjust for inflation, that means that each church member at the time gave today’s equivalent of $20, as compared to less than three dollars per member given to mission today.
Now, nearly 100 years later, our church faces a similar crisis as COVID-19 shatters lives and the economy. As mission offerings decrease, the future ministry of Global Mission pioneers is uncertain. These mostly local missionaries specialize in reaching the world’s most difficult to reach people groups for Jesus. As history repeats itself, can we, as a church, repeat a heartfelt, sacrificial response to keep our missionaries on the front lines? Over the years, this offering has continued, with 100 percent of the offering going to frontline Global Mission work for planting churches in unreached and under-reached parts of the world and among new people groups.
In the book, “Counsels on Stewardship,” we read this timely instruction:
“In the last extremity, before this work shall close, thousands will be cheerfully laid upon the altar. Men and women will feel it a blessed privilege to share in the work of preparing souls to stand in the great day of God, and they will give hundreds as readily as dollars are given now.
If the love of Christ were burning in the hearts of His professed people, we would see the same spirit manifested today. Did they but realize how near is the end of all work for the salvation of souls, they would sacrifice their possessions as freely as did the members of the early church. They would work for the advancement of God's cause as earnestly as worldly men labor to acquire riches. Tact and skill would be exercised, and earnest and unselfish labor put forth to acquire means, not to hoard, but to pour into the treasury of the Lord” (pp. 40, 41).
Today, dear friends, what are you, what am I, willing to sacrifice for Mission? But perhaps sacrifice isn’t the best word after all. Because, indeed, this “sacrifice” is actually a blessing! In Proverbs 11:25 we read: “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”
If you would like to join in and be a part of this wonderful opportunity to give to the Annual Sacrifice Offering, I encourage you to visit Global-Mission.org/MySacrifice where you will have the opportunity to click “Give Online” and choose “Global Mission’s Annual Sacrifice Offering.”
I invite you to pray with me just now. Father in Heaven, thank you for sending Jesus who gave the ultimate sacrifice for each of us, who then rose from the grave and is interceding for us in the most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, a real Sanctuary in Heaven, preparing for his soon return when he will take us to Heaven to be with him, Lord, we want to go with Jesus.
When he returns by His grace, we can be saved. And by his grace, we can also sacrifice here on this earth. For what sacrifice is it to us to share with what You have already given to us, and then to receive a wonderful eternal life as we submit our hearts to Jesus. Thank you Lord, for letting us sacrifice for others so that we can all be together in Heaven.
With you in Jesus’s name, we ask it. Amen.