Reports highlight South America and Northern Asia-Pacific regions

Reports highlight South America and Northern Asia-Pacific regions

Business Meetings | Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Arin Gencer/ANN

Integrated evangelism spurs growth in South America; challenges for mission in Northeast Asia, church's most populous region

Masaki Shoji, president of the Adventist Church in Japan, and his wife joined dozens of church members on stage wearing traditional dress from their home countries. [photo: Gerry Chudleigh]
Masaki Shoji, president of the Adventist Church in Japan, and his wife joined dozens of church members on stage wearing traditional dress from their home countries. [photo: Gerry Chudleigh]

Evangelistic campaigns in places as varied as the bustling streets of Buenos Aires and a floating village in Peru have helped lead to more than 1 million baptisms and hundreds of new Seventh-day Adventist congregations in South America.

In the Northern Asia-Pacific region, the past five years have seen about 86,000 baptisms in a part of the world considered one of the most challenging for the church.

Those are just a sampling of developments in two of the Adventist Church's world regions, which presented formal five-year reports Monday evening to delegates at the 59th General Conference Session of the denomination. Their presentations followed two short videos on education in both areas, highlighting the successes that both have seen in the past five years.

"Brothers and sisters, you can see here our people, our faces, our colors, our flags," said region President Erton Köhler, standing on a stage where dozens of fellow South Americans waved the flags of the eight countries in the region. "You can see here our passion to do the best using each area of our church, each department, each institution and each member in an integrated evangelism."

A 15-minute video demonstrated these efforts, describing the campaigns held throughout the region, during which thousands of people distributed millions of books and magazines to the public, winning new members.

A campaign that focused on the church's Sabbath message led Brazilian Pastor Levi Gomes and his family to leave behind their church, friends and lifestyle of 15 years -- a "radical change," his wife said.

Of the 310 million people in the region, slightly more than two million are Adventists, said Agustin Galicia, an associate secretary of the world church. Brazil boasts the largest number of Adventists in the world church, with 1.3 million.

"The South America division is a dynamic and powerful church full of enthusiasm, passion and love for mission," Galicia said. "South America is known for the hope -- the hope in the second coming of the Lord."

The Northern Asia-Pacific presentation similarly began with scores of people from the region taking to the stage, all dressed in cultural garb from its six countries.

"We have enormous mission challenges in many places -- in Mongolia, in China, North Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao," said President Jairyong Lee, who also donned a traditional outfit. "Although there are many mission challenges and differences, the Lord has richly blessed his churches."

Among the blessings in the most populous region are the nearly 1,400 churches and companies launched in the past five years, as well as thousands of people recommitting themselves to studying the Bible after a worldwide church campaign intended to reignite study.

In addition, the region's video presentation described the large bodies of believers that have bloomed in China, where one church has given rise to nearly 120 congregations, while an elder in another region has helped build 380 such groups.

Outreach efforts have also helped spread the Adventist message. The Pioneer Mission Movement, a global church-planting project, has targeted unreached areas, including parts of Taiwan. The Golden Angels -- young singing missionaries who volunteer to put on concerts and distribute brochures -- have inspired more than 2,000 people through their ministry. And since 2008, pairs of modern-day disciples -- totaling more than 1,700 -- take to the streets to hand out gospel publications for at least two hours per week.

"'Mission first' is the motto we have deep down in our heart," Lee said. "And by the grace of God, we will continue doing our best to finish the gospel work."