December 15, 2005 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States …. [Mark A. Kellner/ANN Staff]
Along with preaching the Gospel message, Seventh-day Adventists must also express practical concern for “the very poorest” of the world, Pastor Jan Paulsen, world church president, said in a year-end message recorded for 14.3 million church members in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.
“Whether they are poor, carry the HIV virus, or whatever, they are loved by our Lord,” Pastor Paulsen said of the world’s less fortunate. “It is our duty to express that love, and to give them dignity and value as human beings. That is also our mission.”
In his annual greeting, Pastor Paulsen reflected on a year marked by global disasters — the year-end 2004 tsunami, whose effects linger; Hurricane Katrina, and the Kashmir earthquake.
Paulsen noted, “2005 was [also] the year when several thousands of our church members met in St. Louis for what we know as the General Conference Session. We came away from that with a clear mandate to be even more deliberate in focusing on mission; and I am especially delighted that we also gave a signal that women and youth must be full and equal partners in the life and witness of the church. … It is now our responsibility to make sure that it works.”
He added, “As we enter a New Year, not knowing how many more of these we will have, I urge you to stay close to the Lord and look after your spiritual life. We are on a pilgrimage, and one day it will be over.”
At the same time, Paulsen emphasized the importance of proclaiming the Good News to the global community.
“As we enter the New Year, evangelism, in all possible shapes and forms, will be high on the agenda of the church,” Paulsen said. “‘Tell the World’ is the motto we chose to describe a vision of an inclusive, wide-reaching mandate for involvement in witness by the global church,” he added.
“We are not just a ‘preaching’ community. We are here to help and heal in practical ways,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen referred to his recent visit to Africa, where he said he “was confronted by the three huge challenges which humanity faces particularly in Africa: Poverty, HIV/AIDS and malaria,” he explained. “I visited several hospitals, and I think especially of one with 300 beds, but mostly filled with people who carried the HIV virus or suffered from malaria, but were too poor to pay for their service; they just had nothing to pay with. Our hospitals, working under the motto: ‘We care, but God heals,’ will take them in and give them the help they need, even the very poorest. Why? Because that is what Christ would do.”
Paulsen, who in January will begin his seventh year as world church president, also took time to express gratitude for the personal blessing of his wife and family, as well as for corporate blessings.
“I am thankful for colleagues and friends; for Kari and the children — and, yes, the grandchildren; for an opportunity to serve the Lord and His church; and I am thankful for God’s continuous presence and for the strength that His presence gives,” he said.
“I am thankful that the life of this church which we love does not depend on one person; it is God’s to look after and we are privileged to partner with Him in service. I am also immensely thankful for the large number of dedicated lay people who give of their best as they partner with the Lord and with those of us in leadership assignments to make the mission of the church effective. I honor you for what you do.”
Closing the message, which has been released on the Internet and for broadcast on Adventist media outlets worldwide, Paulsen asked for the support of church members.
“Let us remember to pray for each other. I need your prayers as I will give of my best to serve the Lord,” he said.
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Copyright (c) 2005 by Adventist News Network.