I was privileged, in January 2017, to attend the 8th Session of the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation (SDBWF) held in Curitiba, Brazil, under the theme “The Kingdom of God is Like…” Permit me to reflect on that global gathering of SDBs.
The Kingdom of God can be considered as a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and surrender to God’s authority. This implies unity, kinship (therefore love), much like we experienced in Brazil. The Brazilian Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) Conference invited SDBWF delegates to attend their Family Conference, immediately preceding the World Federation Sessions, at the same venue. It was undeniably a wonderful experience, as they accepted us from different parts of the globe freely and openly. That kind of atmosphere promotes kingdom principles, and is a great ethos for the transmission of the evangelism and missions messages. What can we learn from the Brazilians?
The SDBWF started with the dream of two SDBs — Gerben Zijlstra (Netherlands) and Everett Harris (USA) — to institute an association of SDBs around the world, resulting in its establishment in 1965. At the 2017 Session, we had the treat of interacting with two of the founding delegates; Rev. Jacob Tyrrell (Guyana) and Rev. Naval Harley (Jamaica). We don’t have to look too far across the member conferences to see the invaluable contribution the SDBWF has been making to the progress of SDBs globally. For many delegates, being at the Sessions confirmed for us our part in something bigger and not just in our individual corners of the world. Meeting with other SDB nationalities brought an energy that propelled many conversations and interactions, affirming self-value, re-igniting commitment to the mission of God.
Fellowshipping with persons speaking different languages prompted me to think about the Babel Tower account in Genesis 11 — the dividing of mankind through languages — and the coming of the unifying force of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit played the role to empower, educate and unite in righteousness, and the congregation of SDBs in Brazil was for a similar reason: to empower us for witness to all the nations, with the wholeness of the Spirit of God. The point of Pentecost is mission, and the goal of mission is that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Understanding this great historic event in Acts and aligning it to our experience in Brazil roused my heart with the cause of realizing the gathering from every tribe and tongue and nation bowing before the exalted Lord Jesus Christ.
Congregating with SDBs from different parts of the world urged me to do a snap review of our global presence on the backdrop of the broad goal stated by the founding SDBWF delegates: “Seventh Day Baptist unity in Christ and a vigorous witness throughout the world.” This should inform our individual Conferences on spreading the gospel. At the 2017 session we had about 50 attendees from 13 countries. The year 2015 marked fifty years since the establishment of the SDBWF with 11 charter member conferences then. At 52 years the SDBWF presently has 18 member conferences and SDB presence in many other countries. However, we are woefully short of reaching all 196 countries in the world. We have much to celebrate but much more to do in joining God in spreading His glory to all the world. Are we still living on the foundation of this vision?
Thank you SDBWF founding delegates, thank you past and present SDBWF executives, and thank you SDB Brazil.
By Garfield Miller – Missions Coordinator, Jamaica For this and other Sabbath Recorder Articles click – HERE