Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban centers by 2050, according to United Nations projections. In Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, Japan and much of the Middle East, 80 percent or more of the population currently lives in urban areas.*
Most people on earth live in cities, and the number is growing. Although the Seventh-day Adventist Church is still largely a rural or suburban church with a relatively small presence in cities, it works with the power of the Holy Spirit to keep up with demographic trends and reach people in urban centers. to bring them to Christ.
To respond to this great need, the Mission to Big Cities initiative of the Adventist world church launched the Three Angels’ Messages sidewalk evangelism pilot project in New York City. in the USA. The goal is to send 100 theology students, seminary students, future pastors and other young people as sidewalk evangelists around the world, using Christ’s method to bring the three angels’ messages to people in large urban centers. Sidewalk evangelism is designed to give future Adventist Church leaders a fully immersive experience in urban mission that will influence their perspective of ministry for years to come.
Angel Smith and Haram Kim, both students at Andrews University Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, participated in the pilot sidewalk evangelism project. They learned that no matter how large the mission field, Christ’s way of relating to others always brings success. This experience developed their skills, tested their faith and opened their eyes to new methods.
Angel Smith was stationed in a busy residential area of Queens. As a seasoned sales rep, she decided the fastest way to find people interested in Bible study was door-to-door. After all, she was only a month old. But at the end of the day, Angel Smith knew something was missing.
She called her mentor, Wayne Jamel, to ask for help. He told her to assess her gifts and talents, then pray to find out what God wanted her to do. Angel Smith has a passion: playing basketball and working out at the gym, so she signed up for a month’s membership, prayed for God’s guidance, and went to the gym to mingle with people. “It shook up in my head how I really viewed ministry,” said Angel Smith. “I’ve met people just doing what I love! »
Angel Smith met people who would never have invited her in if she had knocked on their door. While exercising at the gym, she struck up a conversation with Tahmina. They decided to exercise together and quickly started eating together. Angel Smith learned that Tahmina grew up in a household where beliefs other than their own were not discussed. She listened sympathetically to what Tahmina told her about her painful past, and they developed a trusting friendship. Through this well-established relationship, Angel Smith spoke freely about Jesus and Bible truth with Tahmina.
Haram Kim was assigned to Bryant Park in Manhattan, a popular public space where thousands of people pass each day. He considers himself shy and has little experience in evangelism. How am I going to reach all of these people for Christ? he wondered. Like Angel Smith, he prayed earnestly, and soon he was chatting with food vendors and playing ping-pong with strangers. God also arranged for him to have divine encounters. Once, someone approached him and said, “I like the message on your t-shirt! Through these meetings, Haram Kim discovered their interests and needs and offered them Bible studies. If he perceived that they wanted to discuss more, he offered to invite them to share the cuisine of his country of origin.
“Korean food was my secret weapon! Haram Kim laughed. He quickly realized that sharing a meal is a great way to build friendships.
True to its purpose, the Sidewalk Evangelism project allowed Angel Smith and Haran Kim to focus with laser precision on the urban mission. Angel Smith returned to seminary with ideas for future ministry, thinking deeply about what urban mission should look like. “Perhaps we should first establish centers of influence, with exercise and fitness classes, mental health clinics, cafés and vegetarian restaurants, rather than [de commencer par] churches,” she said. “The churches will come next. »
Participating in sidewalk evangelism radically changed Haram Kim’s attitude towards cities. “Before sidewalk evangelism, I thought God didn’t want us to be in big cities because of their worldly influences. But how can I meet so many people, [voir] so much diversity and [être témoin] problems people face in their health, relationships, and finances, and not feeling God’s love for big cities? he concluded. “Cities are where people are, and God loves people! »
* United Nations Population Division, “World Urbanization Prospects 2018,” https://population.un.org/wup/Download/Files/WUP2018-F08-Total_Growth_Rate.xls.
Translation: Patrick Luciathe
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Sidewalk Evangelism Pilot Project Enters New York City Adventist News
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