As you look out across the landscape of our country and our world, it is enough to produce the biblical description of “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).
Chaos is evident everywhere. In terrorist threats and attacks, in polarized political contention, in disregard for the value of human life, and even in the increasing extremes of weather patterns.
Brothers and sisters, fellow members of the North Pacific Union Conference, this is indeed a time for Adventists to actively share our faith in God's promise of a soon coming Savior.
Eight years ago, when I became the NPUC team leader, I wrote in my first Gleaner message, “I’m very much like you. I feel uncertain about a lot of things. My heart longs for peace and sanity in the midst of a world that seems out of control. And I’ve concluded that the only place left to find unfailing hope and certainty is by going back to the unshakeable foundations of our values and beliefs.” I believed it then and still do today. The only difference is we are eight years closer to that grand Second Advent.
God’s work has moved forward. He has blessed us with significant progress. Our membership has surpassed the 100,000 mark. SOULS Northwest is training people for effective door-to-door Bible study work. Our targeted trade book initiative has distributed more than a hundred thousand truth-filled books. Our Creation Study Center is already providing wonderful resources. Multiple evangelistic meetings and mission trips happen every year.
Humanly speaking, there’s rarely been a more productive environment for sharing the gospel. We live in a global community where desert nomads have cell phones in their pockets and South Sea islanders have satellite dishes mounted on their grass shacks. I recall an observation that the news of the 2001 twin tower attacks in New York City was likely known by 85 percent of the world’s population within two hours of its occurrence.
So, bearing a heavenly commission, we cannot let a global epidemic of fear spread faster than the good news. God’s people have not been given a “spirit of fear; but of power and love” (2 Tim. 1:7). “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God” (Is. 41:10). “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear … for in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion” (Ps. 27:3–5).
God has promised to balance our fear with a great hope — the blessed hope. “Lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:1–19). “I urge you to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
As many of you know, I have decided to retire at the time of our NPUC constituency meeting in September. I have already served well past the Levitical retirement age of 50 (see Num. 8:25). I plan to stay active in meaningful ministry, but I am looking forward to discontinuing my place on more than 30 boards and committees and focusing my time, attention and energy on active, personal involvement with ministry.
My prayer is that we will remain faithful to the mission God has given us and He will keep us fruitful in our ministry until Jesus comes.