The growing number of people residing in the world's cities -- more people live in cities today than in rural areas -- signifies a clarion call for urban evangelism, Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, declared October 8 during Sabbath worship at the world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Taking his theme from Luke 19:41-42, Wilson noted that Jesus, on His final entry to Jerusalem, wept over the city where He was to be falsely accused, tried and crucified.
"Jesus wept for the city, [and] for the people of the city," Wilson said. "He knew what was to happen in a matter of days. ... He did not become angry or resentful. He wept! He wept for the people of the city!"
From that example, Wilson said, Christians can draw the conclusion that the people of the cities are important to God and to the fulfillment of the Gospel commission to take the good news into all the world.
"Our humble goal will be to reach approximately 650 major cities of the world before the next General Conference Session in 2015 all based on the power of the Holy Spirit through revival and reformation," he said.
"God is calling us to go into the cities of the world where the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful," Wilson told the congregation of 500 world church leaders and guests. "Are you willing to weep and work for the people of the great cities? He calls for us to proclaim His love, His righteousness, His Three Angels' messages, His warning to a dying world, and the powerful announcement of His soon second coming!"
Wilson said, "Our Biblical message to the cities 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."
In a message simultaneously broadcast by the church's Hope Channel, Wilson said Jesus has issued a call to work in urban area, reflected in the writings of the denomination's co-founder Ellen G. White: "For over a hundred years, He has been asking His people to work the cities according to His methods. The Spirit of Prophecy [her writings] is replete with instruction about the work to be done for the cities ... it is a sustainable, careful, and comprehensive work ... a work that unites every aspect of church work in its approach to reaching the multitudes of the cities and will receive God's blessing when done according to His will with a humble heart."
He then quoted from White's book, "Medical Ministry," page 304: "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."
Wilson recalled White's account of the "beehive of activity" Adventists created in San Francisco, California, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries. He said that such efforts can, and should, be duplicated today.
"We need strategic planning, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for every city in every country in every division around the world that will produce that 'beehive,'" Wilson said.
He added, "Everyone can contribute to the development of the work-in-progress plans including our departments and institutions. We are calling for everyone to participate -- young and old, those who live in the cities and those who live in rural areas, pastors and church members, church organizations and church institutions. Every member involved in every possible way for comprehensive urban evangelism."
Wilson issued a challenge to his audience: "Are we willing to take the determined steps to put into practice God's plans for the urban centers of the world so that a 'mighty movement' will result, or will we turn and run like Jonah?"
Asserting the authenticity of the Scriptural account, he said, "This was a real story, a real Jonah, a real fish and a real appeal by God to go to Nineveh. Don't discount this story and others in the Bible as just symbolic or allegorical. The miracles of the Bible are true and demonstrate God's authority. Believe in the authenticity of God's Holy Word and the Spirit of Prophecy. God's Word speaks to us in clear language that shows He is in control and that we are to follow His instructions and live life to the fullest."
Wilson announced that the global urban outreach would begin in New York City, where the current G.C. president began his own ministerial work, and where Ellen White had directed special attention by Adventists.
"In 2013 we will launch a very specific, comprehensive, and sustained evangelistic approach for the world beginning in New York City," he said. "We want to start with New York City since Ellen White indicated that it should be a symbol as to how the rest of the world should be worked. Since large cities are made up of many smaller communities and neighborhoods, we expect to have approximately 150 to 200 evangelistic meetings in the metropolitan New York area from June 7 to 29 in 2013. ... By God's grace, I pledge myself and Nancy to hold one of those 200 evangelistic meetings in New York City in June 2013."
Wilson concluded his message with an appeal for prayer support and workers for the urban outreach.
"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 with the Holy Spirit for the power to accomplish the task entrusted to us," he said. "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."
--read the full text of Wilson's sermon HERE.