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LEAD On: Annual Council Diary, October 5


Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) is the way that every meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee begins. This year, the office of Global Mission is in charge of the two-day LEAD Conference titled “Into the Cities.”

Thursday began with Global Mission “Toolkits” being distributed. The charming cardboard boxes contained materials from the six Global Mission Centers that focus on sharing the Gospel with specific people groups: Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Urbanites, Muslims, Secular/Postmoderns. Then the directors of these centers shared the keys that they have learned to equip people to reach their neighbors by answering the top three questions asked about each of the groups.

“How Do I Begin” was a universal question that usually was answered, “Make friends.” Before you invite people to church, invite them to your home was one recommendation. Knowing something about people and their worldview was important. For instance, in working with East Asians whose worldview and values are shaped by Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, or Confucianism, it is important to realize that “their focus is not on some far off heaven. They want to ease their suffering now and live a good life. They see no need for forgiveness from sin,” according to the flyer with the Top 3 Questions about working with them.” In his presentation on reaching Jewish people, Richard Elofer said, “We have to adapt ourselves to the people that we want to reach.”

Partnerships are another key that Global Mission is using to accomplish its goals, partnerships with Divisions and partnerships with General Conference Departments. The directors of Education, Women’s Ministries, Religious Liberty, and Technology all described working with Global Mission projects. Early childhood education can be a great way to engage people In urban settings and the Education Department has guidelines on how to establish early childhood programs. They also told about the Adventist Education Theme Park in Sao Paulo called Zion World which has an outdoor classroom, theatre, and healthy snack factory where students learn about sustainability and social responsibility, healthy eating, and creationism. Women’s Ministries and the Center for Adventist Muslim Relations worked together on materials to reach Muslim families. They have learned that prayer groups scheduled at regular Muslim prayer times are one way to bring people together. Nancy Lameroux described how the IT department at the GC was working with the people in India to engage the large number of IT workers there in a special program.

The practical nature of the presentations and the care for the various people groups was inspiring. It made me proud to see the love being demonstrated throughout the world by my church. It was a good day in many ways. The toolkits were just the beginning of the giveaways. I also came home with eight new books, a new interactive Bible board game called “The Mission,” plus numerous flyers, cards, and magazines. Actually, “The Mission” wasn’t a give-away. I purchased it from the Center for Secular/Postmoderns. It is a beautiful board game “where knowledge and action meet!” “The Most Interactive Bible Game of All Time.” It has cards, dice, fake money, and trivia questions. Players build churches and send missionaries. The first player to send one missionary to every continent wins the game. I can’t wait to play.

Watching the distribution of all these materials to the audience is like watching a ballet.

The materials are stacked across a long u-shaped table in the back of the room. A team of twenty people each take a stack to a designated section of the auditorium to pass out. It is done quickly and efficiently. Willie Oliver, director of the Family Ministries Department, orchestrates the effort, recruits the participants, writes the reminder e-mails and the thank-you notes. “We’re here to help,” he says, “we’re all servants, part of the body of Christ.”

There were many “standing committees” throughout the day. These casual conversations, usually took place in the back of the room, when someone saw a friend or wanted to connect with an associate.  At one point, the chair requested for those not to happen, because it was making it hard to hear the presentations. But people coming together once a year for this meeting always have much to share with each other, news to pass along on that ubiquitous  Adventist grapevine. But that’s another story for another day.


Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

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