March 1, 2023 | Nairobi, Kenya | Andrew McChesney
The Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way in Africa as the Seventh-day Adventist Church experiences explosive growth that is giving members extraordinary opportunities to witness, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson said after a whirlwind tour of eight countries.
Wilson, whose trip included visits with heads of state and tribal royalty, praised the faithfulness of church members and said Africa serves as an example of what the Holy Spirit can do worldwide.
“God is doing something amazing in Africa,” Wilson said. “We praise His name for the enormous growth and influence our members are now having on society because of their sheer numbers and faithful witness.”
The three-and-a-half-week visit started in Zambia, which has 1.2 million Adventists and was the first African country to reach 1 million members in 2015. Worldwide, the Adventist Church has 21.9 million members, according to the church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
After Zambia, Wilson visited Kenya (1 million members), Tanzania (1 million members), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (nearly 1 million members). He wrapped up the trip with stops in South Africa, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, and Namibia.
Along the way, Wilson, accompanied by his wife, Nancy, visited Adventist hospitals, universities, schools, media organizations, and supporting ministries, and he preached to crowds numbering in the thousands in packed stadiums and halls.
“We had wonderful meetings with our church members who are on fire for TMI, ‘I Will Go,’ and evangelism,” Wilson said.
TMI, or Total Member Involvement, and “I Will Go” are world church initiatives that challenge every church member to share their hope in Jesus’ soon coming with someone else.
Wilson also offered spiritual encouragement in one-on-one talks with African leaders, including Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema, who is an Adventist; Kenyan President William Samoei Ruto; and Democratic Republic of Congo President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo.
“We met heads of state and other high officials who are appreciative of Adventists,” Wilson said.
Among other dignitaries he met were Lubosi Imwiko II, a Zambian tribal king whose predecessor gave land to the church where Yuka Adventist Hospital now stands; Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 94-year-old prince of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa whose mother was an Adventist; members of the Eswatini royal family, a number of whom are Adventists; the vice president of Namibia; the deputy prime minister of Lesotho and two national lawmakers who are Adventists; and a Kenyan governor and a group of national lawmakers who are Adventists.
Blasious Ruguri, president of the East-Central Africa Division of the Adventist Church, whose territory includes Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, said he was especially moved by the meetings with the presidents of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It was a great blessing for both of them,” said Ruguri, who attended the meetings. “Pastor Wilson shared a number of things with them, including the closeness of the coming of the Lord Jesus as seen by the signs we all can see clearly.”
He said that Wilson’s public speeches, in which he urged church members to do even more to share Jesus, have given a boost to a division goal to double membership by 2025.
“Elder Wilson remembered to recognize the fast growth of church membership in the East-Central Africa Division,” he said by email. “Our members felt highly energized when the world leader read Scriptures and quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy showing the important place they occupy in the drive to finish God’s work.”
Gideon Reyneke, executive secretary of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, described the impact of Wilson’s visit as “huge” on the division, whose territory includes South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Namibia.
“People saw and experienced that they are a significant part of the remnant family of God across the world in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said.
He said he would not soon forget the big Sabbath gatherings and the official visit with Zambia’s president, followed by a private dinner at his home. But he expressed special appreciation for the personal interest that he saw Wilson take in people.
“He would stop and talk, or shake a hand, or encourage the young people wherever he went,” he said by e-mail.
Wilson praised God for the spiritual enthusiasm that he witnessed during his Jan. 26-Feb. 19 trip.
“This was the most grueling three-and-a-half-week itinerary that I have been on — so many appointments and so little sleep,” he said by email. “However, it was a great trip, by God’s grace. We give God all the glory for what He is doing in Africa and wants to do all over the world.”
Addressing church members everywhere, he added, “The end of time is upon us, and the Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way. Soon the latter rain will fall and we will go home. Pray for God’s work in Africa and around the world. The final proclamation of the three angels’ messages is going forward. Jesus is coming! Get involved!”