The Divinely-ordained Plan for Seventh-day Adventist Missionary Work

“The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour” (Great Controversy, p. 70). We are told that every church member should be a missionary for Christ. In other words, every member of the church should be trained in the work of reaching souls as Christ did, by ministering to them physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Not every church member, however, is able to engage full-time in this work; the vast majority of us have jobs that we go to and other responsibilities that require us to work. The apostle Paul, one of the most prolific contributors to the Bible, supported himself with his work as a tentmaker, while also making himself available to the Holy Spirit to support God’s work of building the early church. Among the Seventh-day Adventist church, the burden of the work is also to be accomplished by lay-members; our pastors, devoted as they may be, cannot do it all (nor should we want them to do it all). The excerpt below is from the book “The Finishing Work: an urgent call to true education” authored by S.H.I.N.E. Global Ministry’s co-founder; in this excerpt, she describes God’s plan for his people to bring relief to a world burdened by sin and suffering. She further expounds upon the type of medical missionary work, gospel evangelism, and social relief services that were historically engaged in by our church and the type of work that Jesus wants to see reproduced today.

Diligent work is now called for. In this crisis, no half-hearted efforts will prove successful. In all our city work, we are to hunt for souls. Wise plans are to be laid, in order that such work may be done to the best possible advantage. More and more, as wickedness increases in the great cities, we shall have to work them from outpost centers. This is the way Enoch labored in the days before the flood, when wickedness was rife in every populous community, and when violence was in the land.

―Review and Herald, September 27, 1906

The cause of Christ has ever been one that demands self-sacrifice and total surrender. Jesus’ first disciples forsook all to follow Him. Consequently, the gospel was taken to every part of the habitable globe in a short space of time. From the inception of the advent movement, our pioneers sacrificed their all for the promulgation of the everlasting gospel, the three angels’ messages of Revelation fourteen. “In the early days of the message, very many of our people possessed the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Thus a right beginning was made, and success attended the efforts put forth” (Counsels on Health, 217). Shall the early days of the message be more glorious than its triumphant close? God, in these last days, is calling His faithful people back to self-sacrificing labor, back to, in love, giving our all for the blessed hope of seeing souls won to our loving Redeemer, that we may soon behold Him face-to-face.

At this very moment, God is seeking to prepare His people for translation, and, in His Word, those who will soon be translated are represented by faithful Enoch. Every day, God so orchestrates circumstances that we are constantly given opportunities to reform our characters, to live out our profession, to walk with Him as did Enoch in days of old. The use that we make of these opportunities will soon be widely made manifest, as this gospel must again be preached for a witness to all the world, and those who will preach this message with power must first live it by faith. Thus living up to the light that God has been pleased to shine upon us, we must labor intelligently for the salvation of others.

“Day by day God’s faithful, commandment-keeping people are to become better prepared to let their light shine forth amid the moral darkness of a world that is rapidly filling up its cup of apostasy, and becoming as it was in the days of Noah. Knowing the time, we are to set in operation every agency that can be employed in doing missionary work for Christ. The great aim of those who profess to believe the third angels’ message, should be to bring all their powers into active service in the cause of God.”

Loma Linda Messages, 241

The Vision of the Beehives

God designs that His people should actively search out His lost children and seek to bring them back to their loving Shepherd. Knowing the time, His messengers are to fervently search for and warn the inhabitants of the world, and God has lovingly given specific guidelines concerning the manner in which we are to conduct His work. In the year 1876, the Lord sent light concerning a multi-faceted program that would be used in reaching the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California. The churches of San Francisco and Oakland were referred to as beehives, full of activity (Review and Herald, July 5, 1906). The members were earnestly at work; they visited the sick and destitute, found homes for orphans and work for the unemployed, nursed the sick, taught the truth from house to house, distributed literature, conducted classes on healthful living and the care of the sick, and operated a workingmen’s home and a school for the children. They also held meetings in large halls in the city and operated treatment rooms as a branch of the St. Helena Sanitarium, a medical mission, a health food store, ship mission work, and a vegetarian cafe, which was open six days in the week and entirely closed on the Sabbath.

Here lies the blueprint for every evangelistic effort: all of our people are to be engaged in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, in wholehearted, self-sacrificing labor for our Master in some line, as best fits their skills, abilities, talents, and natural aptitude. As each church is to be a training ground for workers, church members must gather and pray earnestly for a knowledge of their duty at this time. While specific missionary endeavors may be more suitable to one place than another (for example, ship mission work would be more viable on an island or in a coastal region than in a landlocked location), the underlying principle remains unchanged: all must work unreservedly for the glory of their Master. The members of the San Francisco and Oakland churches hitherto mentioned were busy working for God in every possible capacity. They heeded the divinely-ordained counsel, and the Lord richly blessed their efforts.

Collectively, as well as individually, we are now to prepare the way for our Lord’s return. God calls upon every professed Seventh-day Adventist to both know the time and act their rightful part in the closing scenes of earth’s history. Each is to earnestly study the prophecies and seek God for a knowledge of their duty. While we are not all now called into full-time self-supporting missionary work, in all of our activities, transactions, and enterprises, the world must see Jesus. His principles of righteousness and justice must arrest our beings, convert our souls, and be reproduced in our lives. We must be set apart, a people chosen by God, called out of the world to live lives devoted to His glory and to finish His work. We must be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.

Our Present Need

Currently, however, our movement has, to a large degree, lost much of its momentum. We have settled into complacency…. We have begun to expect less of our members. We no longer hold the banner of standards as high as we once held it, and, as a result, true conversion has become more rare in the church. Many of us have never yet been converted, but our God is in the business of changing hearts and inspiring lives. He sees the current state of affairs and grieves over the condition of His church. He longs to imbue us with power to live the message that we preach and to come into the unity of the truth. He earnestly desires to teach us to work in harmony one with another, united in Him and galvanized by His love.

“Those who belong to Christ’s army must work with concerted action. They cannot be faithful soldiers unless they obey orders. United action is essential. An army in which every part acts without reference to the other parts, has no real strength. In order to add new territory to Christ’s kingdom, His soldiers must act in concert. . . . He calls for a united army, which moves steadily forward, not for a company composed of independent atoms. The strength of His army is to be used for one great purpose. Its efforts are to be concentrated upon one great point—the magnifying of the laws of His kingdom before the world, before angels, and before men.”

—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1146

Christ has set the example for us and we are to work, even as He worked. Realizing our need and the high standard to which we are called, we must pray for strength and ability to follow in His footsteps. We must pray for undefiled love for our Creator, so that we may engage in disinterested service to our fellow man. We must also pray for the practicality of the gospel to be revealed in our lives, that, by building relationships and earnestly desiring the good of the people with whom we associate, we may live out our profession. When these prayers are granted, the life of each Seventh-day Adventist will be a picture of God’s love and sacrifice for suffering humanity. Understanding the shortness of the remaining time and our position in the great chain of prophetic events, we will be spurred into action. We will be wholeheartedly engaged in the four-fold work given us by God—teaching, preaching, healing, and publishing.

Dear friend, it is our prayer that the Lord will give you wisdom regarding the type of work He has created you to engage in on His behalf and the area of His vineyard in which He has ordained for you to work. Remember, “Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 327). God has a plan for you, and He wants to equip you to work according to His will and way. We pray that the Holy Spirit will be present to convict your heart and to provide you with wisdom and a clear knowledge of the Father’s will for you. May God richly bless you and the work He will do through you!

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