On January 1 this year, two major initiatives were launched. Firstly, the North American Division Prayer Initiative, designed to encourage daily prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit and a spirit of unity in the nine unions and 58 conferences this year. The goal is to “Reach North America”—a plan that embraces and promotes Revival and Transformation, Education for Discipleship, Alignment in God’s Church, Community Outreach and Evangelism, and Healthy Leadership and Management. According to Dan Jackson, president of the Adventist Church in North America, the church in North America is also being urged to join our brothers and sisters around the world as we daily pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as well. His plea is that we ask the Lord for holy boldness for sharing the gospel beginning with Operation Global Rain, a 10-day prayer initiative that took place on January 4-14, and, might I say, “beyond.”
Secondly, January 1 also ushered in the beginning of the preparation with prayer for the NY13 Big City Evangelism in New York—across the Atlantic Union and Columbia Union, more specifically for the Northeastern, Greater New York, Allegheny East, New Jersey, and Southern New England conferences—an initiative of the General Conference and North American Division for evangelizing the world’s large cities. The efforts in New York City may provide an evangelistic strategy for reaching other large and complex cities of the world.
Preaching the gospel of Jesus and showing God’s plans for our future is the primary work of His disciples and His church. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In Matthew 24:14 (NIV) Jesus says, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
As a church, we clearly see and understand our mission to be a last-day messenger, called to deliver an urgent message. We know that no success in this spiritual venture can be accomplished without the presence, power, and anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been promised to those who open their hearts and their lives to Jesus and daily connect with Him through prayer. Ellen White, in the April 1, 1873, The Youth’s Instructor, said “The strength of Christ was in prayer. He had taken humanity, and He bore our infirmities and became sin for us. . . . When new and great trials were before Him, He would steal away to the solitude of the mountains, and pass the entire night in prayer to His Heavenly Father.
“As Christ is our example in all things, if we imitate His example in earnest, importunate prayer to God . . . we shall not be overcome by him (the wily foe).”
Our challenge and our opportunity during this year, yet unfolding before us, is to spend quality time communing with our Lord and experiencing the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate holy boldness in sharing the Good News of Salvation.Carlyle Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries director.