December 17, 2013 – New York City…Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review
A winter storm that dumped three to five inches of snow and slush on the sidewalks of New York, not to mention its roadways, didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists who braved the elements to attend three events marking a year of evangelism in America’s largest metropolis.
Temperatures fell Friday evening as members gathered at the Linden Seventh-day Adventist Church in Laurelton, Queens; but spirits rose both there and Saturday morning at the Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village. Adventist world church President Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, who spoke at both venues, emphasized evangelism as a priority for Adventist Christians.
“All over the world, God is moving in an unusual way to bring people to a point of decision,” he told Sabbath morning congregants. “You are part of a prophetic people, who have a prophetic message,” he continued, later asking, “Are you ready to deliver the message God has put into your hands today?”
Wilson added, “Never be afraid to share God’s word in love, but also to share it in a straightforward way.”
The Sabbath afternoon meeting, which along with the Laurelton event was billed as “Celebrating Christ at Christmas: Rejoicing in the Harvest,” drew hundreds who braved the falling snow and slippery streets to hear Wilson, veteran evangelist Mark Finley and his wife Ernestine, as well as five musical soloists and an ensemble expressing gratitude for a remarkable year of church growth in the metro region.
While the inclement weather prevented a raft of local politicians from attending—New York City mayor-elect Bill De Blasio had indicated he would participate, before the snow hit—Kenneth P. Thompson, newly elected district attorney for the borough of Brooklyn made it to the Upper East Side meeting place, Hunter College of the City of New York’s 75-year-old auditorium, and spoke warmly.
“Happy Sabbath,” Thompson began. “Thank you for your support, and for allowing me to appear before you. Whether you live in Brooklyn or are just passing through, you’ll have a friend in Ken Thompson.”
Evangelist Mark Finley shared several brief reflections on scriptural points, noting the presence of four women—each with troubled pasts—in the genealogy of Jesus as recorded in the first chapter of Matthew.
In that chronology, Finley said, “We see grace, a genealogy that embraces all of humanity.”
Speaking from the Scripture, Wilson noted the messianic promise of Numbers 24:17— “A star will come out of Jacob” —and said the Christmas star “can lead us to the One who came, who was predicted” in that verse.
“Jesus came to the most humble place possible,” Wilson said. “Jesus came to simple, believing people—the shepherds of His time.”
Today’s Christians, Wilson said, can proclaim the message to a world blinded by sin.
“God wants you to be a star like the star in Bethlehem, [one] that points to Him,” he said. Noting the season, he added, “Don’t allow commercialism and ‘Santa Claus’ to distract you from the One who came.”
Concluding the program, Atlantic Union Conference president Don King was joined by Greater New York Conference President G. Earl Knight and Northeastern Conference president Daniel Honoré, who conducted an on-stage interview with Hope Channel president Brad Thorp. The television ministry president disclosed that the Seventh-day Adventist-owned media outlet would soon begin over-the-air broadcasting on HD channels in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.
“I thank God for the accomplishments of NY13,” King said.