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The Call to Mission: The largest Sabbath morning service in the World

The Call to Mission: The largest Sabbath morning service in the World

It is the largest Sabbath service in the world! One hundred and sixty-eight countries worshipping together in one place!

July 05, 2015 | San Antonio, USA | Victor Hulbert, TED NEWS, EUD NEWS.

It is the largest Sabbath service in the world! One hundred and sixty-eight countries worshipping together in one place! Despite a walk along crowded paths in the heat of a Texas morning, church members from across the world are here in tens of thousands.

When the congregational singing accompanied by the combined Montemorelos and Washington Adventist University Choir and orchestras start, it is impressive, spine tingling! 'Crown Him with many crowns'. "I wanted to sing! Fantastic", enthused Lynn Kvinge from Norway. The only thing to beat it is the special music – first from the Montemorelos choir and then, just before the sermon, from their Washington counterparts.

Even the offering is a special time – dedicated as it is to youth evangelism. That is significant in an event where youth delegates are in a minority – though they are well represented today by Pathfinders from the local Conference expertly collecting the donations – in whatever-currency you choose to give.

Delegates were delighted to discover that Executive Secretary, GT Ng was selected as preacher. A warm hearted man with a great sense of humour, they had already felt blessed by his engaging and mission focused Secretariat report the previous day. His counterpart at the Trans-European Division, Audrey Andersson quipped, "He teaches, gets people's attention with a little humour, and then leads them from where they are to where they need to go."

It is July the 4th – so Pastor Ng invited all the American citizens and permanent residents in the auditorium to stand. He then told those who would like to be residents, "You can stand next time."

Then quickly moving from Independence Day he asked, "Who are you?" His personal response: "I am GT Ng, a sinner saved by grace?" He then stated that as a church, we maybe need to answer that question. We equally need to ask, do we know who God is?

Seeking the answers, he directed the congregation to focus on Daniel 12 and Revelation 10 and particularly the 'son of man' that he sees portrayed in those two chapters. This led to a delving into prophetic history and then a potted history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including the disappointment of 1884, the formation of the church and the development of mission.

"Can the imperative for Mission be emphasised", he asked. Quoting from Revelation 10:11 and its emphasis on "many peoples, nations, languages and kings" enthusiastically repeated, "Yes, we must prophesy again" while throwing out statistics that shared the joy of Adventist Mission and growth in a Church of 18.5 million world-wide.

"He has the gift to inspire", Reider Kvinge reflected. "He gives us a strong identity. Maybe Revelation 10 is something I need to take back to Norway."

Yet there are challenges in Mission. Without being specific Dr Ng emphasised that we need to be focused and not distracted by what we think are important issues while really, "the church can be treating a troublesome itch while the patient is dying of cholera."

That appealed to Arne Elkjær from Demark. "I like when the preacher has the ability to use humour and still be informative." Arne works with teens and appreciated the authenticity of the preaching. "Authentic reaches youth"' he said. Yet he did have one small gripe. He loved the sermon but wished that other parts of the worship could be slightly more directed towards youth.

And so to the appeal: "We live in extraordinary times", Dr Ng stated, an oft repeated mantra over the past few days. "Whatever way you look at the world there is no hope. We live in a world that is doomed for destruction. God is calling us for a commitment to mission."

His solution: "Instead of praying for 'I, me and myself', we need to pray for people in our neighbourhood, for people who do not know Jesus." He then emphasised that beyond prayer, we need to be really practical and commit our time and our money to mission.

"It was inspiring. Very good music, good planning and a general impression of the diversity of the church and its mission", Danish church elder, Ivan Rechter reflected.

And what better way to climax that reflection than a glorious rendition of Handel's Hallelujah chorus. A tune to stay in the mind for the rest of a glorious Sabbath – and a call to Mission to stay in our hearts for the rest of our lives – until Jesus Comes.

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