Reaching People in the Cities

General Conference

Reaching People in the Cities

President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, Ted N.C. Wilson, talks about how we can bring God’s message to people in cities.

Commentary | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, president, Seventh-day Adventist World Church

Greetings, friends. Recently, Nancy and I had the privilege of going on a very special mission to New York City. We were invited to participate in the official opening of a new senior housing facility called the Northeastern Towers Annex. It is a new addition to the original building that was opened in 1984. Seventh-day Adventists, particularly from the Northeastern Conference, have been very much involved in this project, where they are ministering in a very real way to the needs of the most vulnerable people in the community.
Various government and civic leaders were present at the opening, and we had the wonderful opportunity to interact with them, sharing our mission and vision of ministering to people in a holistic way.

Being able to help others in need--physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually--is core to who we are as Seventh-day Adventists, and in today's world the need is greater than ever--especially in the cities.

For some time now, the world's population has shifted to the large cities of the world, and God is calling us to reach these city dwellers. A few years ago, we placed a renewed emphasis on Mission to the Cities. This emphasis is still very much needed and is moving forward today. It is a work that unites every aspect of church work in its approach to reaching the multitudes of the cities, and it will receive God's blessing when done according to His will with a humble heart. 

God spoke through Ellen White to reinvigorate the work for the cities and speaks to us today in the book, Medical Ministry, where we read: "There is no change in the messages that God has sent in the past. The work in the cities is the essential work for this time. When the cities are worked as God would have them, the result will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed" (p. 304). 

This is God's message to us today in response to revival and reformation. We are to be prepared personally and corporately by the Holy Spirit in our humble submission to the will of God as the world around us is crumbling and disintegrating.

I believe Jesus is coming soon. The signs around us are ominous and God is calling for us to be revived and reformed through His Spirit so we can increase our work in the cities according to His plan. When that is done, we are promised that we will see "a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed." 

Let us pray that the latter rain will fall in abundance as we carry out the work for the cities. God's people are to accomplish this through revival, reformation and a quiet submission to the Word of God, counsel in the Spirit of Prophecy, intense prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to obey God's commands. 

We need pastors and lay people working together. Pastors and health professionals are to work, as indicated by the Spirit of Prophecy, in a "blended ministry." We need denominational organizations and supporting ministries working together in soul winning. The power to do this work is not in human beings or committees or policies—the power and truth is in the Word of God, in the Spirit of Prophecy, in earnest prayer, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our Biblical message will unite us as a worldwide people and guard us from isolating ourselves from society and from each other. Our message to the cities of the world is that another city is coming—the New Jerusalem— a city of safety, hope and refuge with God at its center. 

When Jesus was on earth, He wept over the old city of Jerusalem. During His triumphal entry, He came to a point overlooking the city, and He stopped. There was Jerusalem in all its glory reflecting the light of the declining sun. The pure white marble of the temple walls and the gold-capped pillars created a dazzling sight. As Jesus looked down on the city, Luke 19:41-42 records His reaction and response: "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it. saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes."

Jesus wept for the city, for the people of the city. He knew the rejection of His mission and the terrible results that would shortly ensue. He wept for the people of the city with unutterable sadness because of their lack of responsiveness to His love, salvation, and Word. 

Are we weeping with Jesus for the cities and people of this world? Are we looking upon the cities near us with unutterable love, as Jesus did? If ever there was a time to weep with Jesus for the cities and people of this world, it is now!

Let's remember that inspiration tells us: "When the cities are worked as God would have them, the result will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed." 

I have full confidence that God will fulfill His promise as we humbly submit our plans to Him and follow His instruction in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Let us plead in earnest prayer with the Holy Spirit for the power to accomplish the task entrusted to us. What a day it will be when Jesus returns and we join with those who have been saved from the large cities and the rural areas to ascend with the Lord to our eventual homes for eternity! Let us dedicate ourselves to God's plan to reaching as many as possible for Him.

I invite you to pray with me just now. Father in heaven, we ask that you will come close to us. As we reflect upon the enormous metropolitan areas of this world. Cities that are near to us, perhaps, many of our members even living in these cities. Lord, help us to remember that it is for the people of the city of Jerusalem that Jesus wept, and he weeps for the people of the cities around the world. Help us introduce the people to the One who can bring them joy, and hope, and fulfillment in this life and an eternal life. The One who died for them, rose for them, intercedes for them, and is coming back for them. Lord be with all those who are laboring in the large cities of this world, and yes in the rural areas as well, but the cities are where so many people are, so far from you. Lord, bless our church members, our church workers, those who labor to appoint people to Jesus, His Three Angels' Messages, and His soon coming. Thank you Lord for letting us be part of this great ministry. In Christ name we ask it, amen.