It is not business as usual in 2018 as the Seventh-day Adventist church embarks on an evangelistic campaign dubbed ‘Gauteng 2018: Sharing Hope and Healing’. This project is called Gauteng 2018 because the high population of this province makes it an appropriate choice for the emphasis of “Mission To The Cities.” 2018 is the year in which maximum impact is envisaged. However, follow up activities to this project are expected to go beyond 2020. One could ask, ‘why Sharing Hope and Healing?’ It is simple. The signs of the times are being fulfilled at quick succession around the world. Human life is daily devastated by crime, natural disasters, economic challenges, marriage and family dysfunctions, lifestyle diseases, delinquent children, and the list goes on and on. The future is now full of uncertainties. These issues are not only affecting the world out there. Gauteng, as a province, has its share of anxiety and many across social strata wish there was more to life than mere material success.
The Gauteng 2018 programming is multifaceted. There are social action programs that address felt needs. These include, but are not limited to, health expos and symposia, nutrition and cooking clinics, lifestyle seminars, family and marriage seminars, guidance and counselling programs for young people, Homes of Hope and Healing and community welfare services.
There are also plans to have spiritual enrichment and outreach in almost all the suburban areas. The church, through its members, is determined to distribute the Glow tracts and the book ‘When God Said Remember’ in millions of copies. At least each household in Gauteng needs to receive their share either as hard or as soft copies. The VOP lessons are also going to be a major thrust like never before. Evangelistic campaigns are done through house meetings and public meetings. So each church is going to be a site. Each institution of higher learning is also going to be a site and Campus Ministries will assist a great deal in this area. Adventist primary and high schools are also coming on board. There are also several tent meetings planned to run in various high density communities. And what makes this project historic also is that, by faith, God is providing a minimum of three thousand house meetings as part of the reaping campaigns. There is no need to doubt this because He said that the church should pray the Lord of the harvest to provide the reapers. Is there anything too hard for the Lord?
This project has fundamental objectives it seeks to achieve:
To boost member involvement through Total Member Involvement (TMI).
To adopt friendship evangelism as the mode of engaging communities.
To boost sustainable Adventist presence and visibility across the province.
To be relevant to communities and earn their respect and confidence.
To experience church growth in membership and vibrant ministries.
Total Member Involvement (TMI)
As far as TMI is concerned, each member is encouraged to do anything for Christ. This can be absolutely anything as in giving literature to people; donating money to local churches to procure relevant literature and VOP lessons; feeding and accommodating evangelists; transporting evangelists to meetings; ushering at campaigns; sending invites to close connections, enrolling people to VOP; bringing friends and neighbors to Homes of Hope and Healing; praying and fasting; training other members; offering homes to be used as campaign sites or as venues for cooking classes; or volunteering to be speakers at felt needs seminars of choice or as evangelists. Anything goes in this project. The only worst enemy is fear itself. But God’s children always move forward even if they may be uncertain of what the future holds. They know that God is in control. Fortunately, all the departments are available to offer training when duty calls.
This project is a huge test to our conventional methods of doing evangelism. Unfortunately, the world is a fast changing and an unpredictable environment. Some methods will work better in some areas and not so well in others. This is why there is a call by the world church to be innovative and creative. We need to think outside the box and try some methods we haven’t implemented before. Various departments have made an effort to do things slightly different this time around.
For instance, the Adventist Youth is embarking on what they call Community Pathfinder Clubs. They are bringing Pathfinder Clubs to communities. This is going to see quite a number of community youths embracing activities and moral values that take them away from sex, drugs, violence and crime. VOP has also come up with an initiative to reach high school students through their new series called ‘Discovering your Path to Success during High School’. Family Life Ministries and the Personal Ministries are teaming up on a project called Building Friendships that Strengthen Families. This project assists Adventists to develop meaningful friendships with community members through hope and healing discussion networks. Health Ministries is also reaching business executives and professionals with the first ever health symposia facilitated by internationally renowned speakers. This is just the tip of the iceberg There are more other departments thinking outside the box. However, there is nothing that stops any local church or member to think outside the box. What is important is to think and to share the vision with the relevant leaders so that we don’t catch each other by surprise.
Reaching People with Special Needs and Other Religions
The Special Needs Department is making every effort to ensure that people with special needs benefit from both the felt needs and spiritual initiatives. This includes coming up with workshops and campaign sites for them. Equally the same, the Adventist Missions, in collaboration with secretariat, is also reaching out to one or two communities that belong to religions other than Christianity. The world church has offered to provide technical advice and training in this area.
The Adventist church is a big family. There is going to be support from around the world; the Southern Africa Indian-Ocean Division (SID) and its unions; and from the regions and conferences outside of Gauteng, but within the Southern Africa Union Conference (SAUC) territory. It is also important to note that this program is collectively hosted and managed by the SID, SAUC, the Northern Conference of South Africa (NCSA) and the Trans Orange Conference (TOC) and their institutions and local churches. It Is Written, an international ministry, ADRA Africa and SAUC ADRA including Meals on Wheels (MOWCs) are some of the major partners of this project. Finally, the funding of this project is based on the TMI philosophy. Everyone (from entities to members) has a part to play to ensure availability of funds.
The SID Communication Department has developed a website that will both speak to the public as well as to the church itself. So, for further information, anyone can visit www.gauteng2018.org. However, a password has been created to allow access to the calendar of special events and dates, training resources, sermons, departmental resources, including information strictly meant for the church. This password can be obtained from the SID, SAU, NCSA and TOC staff, and all local church leaders and not forgetting registered facilitators (evangelists and seminar presenters).
Personal Minisries Director – Southern Africa-Indiand Ocean Division