Source: Adventist News Network
[March 13, 2007] In a city where 16 million people live with radical fundamentalists who have blown up the meeting places of those whose beliefs differ from theirs, 700 people recently gathered to learn how to Tell the World about Jesus.
"Local church leaders [in the city] had expected 500 people who they would train to start 500 small groups," said Dr. Michael L. Ryan, a vice president for the Seventh-day Adventist world church. "Instead, 700 people showed up."
Small groups in big cities like this are integral to the church's plan to share Jesus' message of hope in some of the world's largest cities where some 3.1 billion people live, Dr. Ryan said.
Since passing a resolution to reach out to big cities at the Adventist church's 2005 meetings in St. Louis, Missouri, the church has broadened its evangelistic efforts. With a project called Hope for Big Cities, the church has intensified outreach in large cities like this one where millions of people from culturally diverse backgrounds live. In this particular Asian city--unidentified to protect church members living there--small groups will meet to study the Bible with the help of DVD players and special software.
"By the end of July we hope to have taken 4,500 people through the Bible," said Dr. Ryan. The small group Bible studies will then culminate in 30 small, one-week public meetings, a safer alternative to one huge public meeting.
"Sharing God's love should not be limited only to large public evangelistic meetings," Dr. Ryan said. "The strength of the church lies in the training and participation of lay people who have the ability to make congregations sustainable."
He continued, "While details of this initiative may seem mysterious we do so because we want to keep our brothers and sisters in this city safe. And so we ask that the entire world church pray for this city as we enter into one of the largest evangelistic meetings ever to take place in this city. Between now and July please hold this city up in your personal, family and corporate prayer meetings."
Through the Hope for the Big Cities plan, the Adventist church in that city plans to add 106 worshipping groups over the next five years. This city is only one of 55 of the world's largest cities that will see gospel outreach programs by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the coming years.