Northern Asia Adventists Launch Mission
Conference With Impressive Display

Four thousand anticipated for Sabbath meeting. (Posted August 28, 2013)

BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, reporting from Jeju Island, Republic of Korea
With the kind of pageantry worthy of a nation that has hosted both the Olympic Games and soccer’s World Cup, Seventh-day Adventists from the Northern-Asia Pacific Division welcomed thousands of delegates to the International Mission Congress with festive singing, enthusiastic participation, and the overriding plea for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to help Adventists finish the work of sharing the everlasting gospel. The event opened Wednesday evening, August 28, on the Republic of Korea's Jeju Island.

MISSION EMPHASIZED: Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, left, General Conference president, emphasized the importance of evangelism, noting that “Jesus is coming very soon.”  [PHOTOS: Mark A. Kellner/AR]
Against a backdrop of 600 LCD video screens merged to form a giant display, a virtual “choir” comprised of videos of individual Seventh-day Adventists in the region singing “My Lord is Coming Soon” blended to offer a hymn of commitment in a division with both tremendous enthusiasm on the part of its people, but also incredible challenges in reaching others.

In a region encompassing “one quarter of the world’s population, we have a responsibility to spread the gospel,” a slide at the beginning of the two-and-a-half hour opening ceremony at the Jeju International Convention Center read. Slides, in English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, then noted the countries under the division’s aegis, reflecting that “the tears of North Koreans, God remembers,” as that country’s images were shown. Korean Adventists, and thousands of additional participants, were captivated by women wearing traditional Korean costumes and waving fans in a traditional folk dance, the first of the evening’s cultural elements.

For China, that nation’s prosperity was noted, along with the comment that Christians have a “heavier” burden of “carrying the cross” in a nation of booming economic prosperity. Chinese Adventists performed a song, which included a performance on a traditional flute, as their cultural contribution.

Japan, whose Adventists enthusiastically participated in the opening ceremonies, was dubbed “the land of the god of money--Mammon,” where “secular men have closed their hearts.” Notwithstanding, leaders from the Japan Union Mission wore T-shirts emblazoned with “Jesus@Tokyo” as emblematic of their effort to reach one of the world’s largest cities, as did members of a male singing ensemble who sang an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” as their cultural element.

Participants from Taiwan and Mongolia were heartily welcomed, particularly by the hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists from the People’s Republic of China who were seated just before the convention center’s main stage. The NSD presentation noted the “wilderness” nature of much of Mongolia; while in Taiwan the need for growing “the root of faith and Christian culture” was emphasized.

WARM WELCOME: Jaiyrong Lee, Northern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists president, welcomes participants and guests to the 2013 International Mission Conference at the Jeju International Convention Center, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea.
The appearance of Taiwan brought together two presidents of the mission field on the IMC platform: Steven Wu, current mission field president, and Robert S. Folkenberg, Jr., former president, who now leads the China Union Mission from offices in Hong Kong. Both waved and applauded the Taiwanese acrobatic dancers who delighted the crowd, as did an equally acrobatic and enthusiastic group from Mongolia, one of whose members did backflips across the platform.

But cultural highlights weren’t the most compelling element of the evening. Each Union or Mission Field leader, along with NSD president Jaiyrong Lee, reaffirmed the commitment in their regions to spreading the good news, with Folkenberg making his declaration in flawless Mandarin, to the delight of his hearers. Daesung Kim, Korean Union president welcomed visitors to the Jeju Island event, as did Lee. In turn, Kisung Bang, Jeju Island’s provincial governor, gave an impassioned word of welcome, speaking for five minutes in recognition of Seventh-day Adventists and greeting those who traveled to this spot off the southern tip of the Republic of Korea. He also singled out Ted N. C. Wilson, General Conference president, for a welcome.

In his comments, Wilson expressed happiness at the event: “It is wonderful to have the Northern Asia-Pacific Division as part of [the global Seventh-day Adventist] family,” he said. “The reason we are here is that we have a great mission to accomplish through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

G. T. Ng, executive secretary of the world church, the evening’s principal speaker, reflected on the program as he took the platform: “After such a wonderful opening, what can one say but to turn to the word of God.”

Ng then noted that Luke 15 presents “three experiences of lostness”--the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost, or prodigal, son--because “Jesus wanted to emphasize the lostness of humanity.”

He spoke of the need to reach those without the gospel: “It’s is no fun to be lost,” he declared.

The International Missions Conference, packed with seminars, morning devotional messages from Ministry magazine editor Derek Morris, and culminating with a Sabbath message from Wilson, where upwards of four thousand people are anticipated.


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