In 2011, New York 2013 (NY13), probably the boldest soul-winning initiative in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was born. Its purpose? To reach the people of Metro New York City in 2013 and beyond with the gospel of Jesus Christ. (NY13 is part of a larger world-wide initiative to reach the major cities of the world starting with New York City.)
In that same year, the Northeast Evangelism Training School (NETS) was also born for the purpose of training soul-winners in three essential areas of evangelism—personal evangelism or Bible work, health evangelism, and public evangelism.
As such, NETS intends to create a steady stream of graduates who are recognized by churches, local conferences, and communities as capable individuals who can be relied on for bringing added value to wherever they serve for the Lord. Though housed on the campus of Atlantic Union College as an Atlantic Union Conference owned and operated program and supported by the North American Division and General Conference, NETS will begin its first in-depth training in New York City in March 2013 as part of the NY13 evangelistic initiative. (For more details, see page 4 of this issue of the Gleaner and/or the NETS Web site at www.netsatlanticunion.org.
But the real soul of NETS lie in its fundamental raison d’être (a French phrase meaning “reason for existence”). It comes out of the work of the early pioneers in the Atlantic Union Conference territory—the cradle of the Seventh-day Adventist Church beginnings.
Permit me to quote from the NETS’ charter document that was voted into existence on September 19, 2012 by the Atlantic Union Executive Committee: “On April 22, 1882, the first day of classes for what later became Atlantic Union College, Professor Goodloe Harper Bell explained the purpose of the school to the faculty and students this way, ‘The aim of this school will be to train Christian workers. The Bible will be its foundation . . .’ ” One hundred and thirty years later, in a newly constituted curriculum, the Atlantic Union Conference committee has the opportunity to go back to the future—to fulfill the dream of the school’s founders. AUC has the unique opportunity to blend a more formal accredited theological and health science/nursing program with a streamlined, non-accredited pastoral–lay training institute (i.e.NETS) and establish a reputation in the Adventist Church as the school in the Northeast that provides a Bible based, Christ-centered, medical missionary, evangelistic education.
The evangelistic endeavors conducted by faculty and students throughout the Northeast will foster the growth of local Adventist churches. Students flooding into churches in New England and New York from NETS will breathe new life into congregations. Pastors attending NETS short-term intensives will return to their congregations refreshed with a new vision. With a new workforce of lay people trained and equipped to witness for their Lord, the church in the Atlantic Union will grow rapidly. Souls will be won for the kingdom of God.
God’s prophetic messenger to the remnant gives us this assurance. “There is no change in the messages that God has sent in the past. The work in the cities is the essential work for this time. When the cities are worked as God would have them, the result will be the setting in operation of a mighty movement such as we have not yet witnessed”—Medical Ministry, p. 304. This promise of our Lord will be fulfilled before His return.
Multitudes in the great cities of New England and New York [and Bermuda] will be reached with the Three Angels Messages. The coming of our Lord will be hastened. The opportunity lies before us. The time is now to make a courageous decision to dream God’s dreams and do something significant for His cause. As Jesus said 2,000 years ago, it is time to launch out into the deep and cast out the nets!
In Luke 5:5, the Apostle Peter declared: “We toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets.”
That time has come to let down our NETS for the Northeast. Let us pray for a rich and fruitful harvest of souls.
Donald G. King is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College, Inc., Board of Trustees.
“We toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets.” That time has come to let down our NETS for the Northeast.