There are all kinds of ways a Sabbath School class can focus on mission outreach. Ulrike Baur works with Adventist Frontier Missions (an Adventist-affiliated organization that sponsors frontline missionaries in many parts of the world) in the country of Benin in West Africa, and teaches a junior Sabbath School class. Though she works with a younger age group, what she is doing can be just as effective with an adult class.
The point here is how the study topic in the class morphed into an awareness of mission outreach. That’s what the boy in the following story suddenly realized. If the same thing happens in your class, you will be amazed at the interest the members begin to display in world mission. It will become a lot more than just sticking a dollar or two in the offering plate during Sabbath School!
Here’s Ulrike’s story:
“I teach the Sabbath School class for 12- to 15-year-olds, and I greatly enjoy it. One Sabbath my class and I studied Jesus’ sermon about the signs of the end in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. We first read through the passages in the Bible and made a list of all the end-time signs. Then we went over them one by one to see whether the event had already taken place or not. The kids are very active, and we had quite an animated discussion. Wars and revolts? Plenty—we easily checked that one off. Earthquakes? Fortunately, we don’t have them in Benin, but the kids hear about them on TV. Famine? A resounding yes! Some of the kids go hungry at times. Persecution? They needed a little help with this one, because Christians can still freely live their faith in Benin. So I defined the word for them and explained that in many other countries of the world Christians are persecuted.
“We moved on and checked off one sign after another until there was only one left: ‘And the gospel must first be preached to all nations’ (Mark 13:10, NIV)." They had to think about it for a minute but then unanimously decided we couldn’t check off this sign, because there are still many people—even in their own home villages—who don’t know Jesus.
“Over the buzzing of the other kids, one boy stared at me with eyes wide open and exclaimed, ‘So that’s what Jesus has been waiting for!’ The penny had dropped. Those are the most beautiful and rewarding moments in our work—when someone comes to understand an important truth, when pieces fall together, when things suddenly make sense.” —From Adventist Frontiers, October 2011. Used by permission.
Today, world mission participation is part of being Adventist. It’s the engine that drives the church. It’s the soul of the motivation that drives Adventists everywhere to communicate the Advent message.
When J. N. Andrews, the first official Seventh-day Adventist missionary sent overseas, arrived in Europe, he learned French, German, and Italian. Like all kids, Mary, his 14-year-old daughter, picked up the languages in no time and became her father’s proofreader.
While it is true that most people do not become full-time missionaries to distant lands, that’s not really essential. Sabbath School provides ways and means and is a fountain of ideas so that anyone can participate in mission outreach right from home. Here are some ideas:
- Organize a prayer circle for a particular missionary, individual, or family.
- Do some local mission outreach through a Branch Sabbath School in your church’s outreach area.
- Donate used copies of the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for all ages, Bibles, hymnals, and literature to areas of the world where they are needed. Your local conference Sabbath School director can inform you on how to do this.
- Organize systematic prayer ministries focused on places on earth where the gospel has not yet gone. Most of these are in what is called the 10/40 window. The world church has various information about them. Explore Adventist Mission’s Web site, www.adventistmission.org. Adventist News Network is another place to get ideas about mission. Go to http://www.news.adventist.org.
- Have each class in your Sabbath School develop a mission project.
Isaiah 49:6 (NIV) is a key mission text: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Ellen G. White follows the same line of thought: “The spirit of unselfish labor for others gives depth, stability, and Christlike loveliness to the character, and brings peace and happiness to its possessor. The aspirations are elevated. There is no room for sloth or selfishness. . . . Those who thus devote themselves to unselfish effort for the good of others are most surely working out their own salvation” ( Steps to Christ, p. 80). —From Enriching Sabbath School,a publication of the South American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Used by permission.
IN A NUTSHELL
- World mission emphasis strengthens the Sabbath School and the personal Christian experience of each member.
- Mission projects help focus the energies of the class and produce a lot of enthusiasm and creativity.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists