After nearly one week in the country celebrating 100 years of Adventism in the Southeast, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Ted Wilson, and wife, Nancy, are back to their headquarters in Silver Spring Maryland, US. Wilson’s recurring evangelism was anchored on Peace, humility, and freedom of worship, what the country needs to prosper in all departments of human existence. Nduka Nwosu reports
The President of the World Church of Seventh-day Adventists Pastor Ted Wilson was in Nigeria for four days last week, to celebrate 100 years of the Seventh-day Adventist church in the Southeast of Nigeria. The celebration was the peg of his visit, but he moved round the entire south of the country ministering to his flock, shaking hands with dignitaries and admonishing men in authority.
It was good news to know Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s aircraft was on ground to fly the Adventist leader to Uyo when the earlier aircraft of Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, a member of the church and a business tycoon, developed a minor fault. Two important religious bodies through their members had a handshake of friendship, partnership, and brotherliness, what Wilson was to later talk about by way of exhortation that only an environment of peace can create prosperity in a country such as Nigeria.
Eventually Wilson’s aircraft touched down Uyo Airport where he met Governor Umo Eno, a fellow pastor who had assembled his team in government to receive him. Whilst Wilson was hosted by top members of the church who are in government, his primary constituency was the grassroots membership, and he had all the time interacting with them, letting the new shepherds and the flock who were meeting him for the first time know he was not a stranger to the country. Wilson was in Nigeria in 2014 and his current theme of reconciliation to Christ, of peace and religious freedom, was not too different from that of his last visit.
He harped on freedom of conscience and liberty in the expression of one’s faith. According to Wilson, any nation that wants peace and prosperity must espouse freedom of conscience. Of course, Wilson, an American citizen, remembers the voyage for a new country by the founding fathers of the New World, the United States of America (USA) was initiated by those who were not ready to mortgage their conscience by the British monarchy. They wanted freedom of thought, and of expression not whittled down by any dictator.
Wilson in his 2014 visit said: “I want to thank the Christian community in Nigeria. I also want to give my appreciation to the Federal Government and to the state for the religious liberty that is provided for all citizens. This is really the foundation of progress and prosperity in the nation.”
He said Adventists try to be good citizens in Nigeria and in other nations where they are domiciled. Indeed, the Adventists are strong in education and health through which the evangelical work is given a practical content.
Babcock University in Ogun State and its highly recommended medical centre attest to this. The church which was founded in 1863 in Battle Creek Michigan, is adept in missionary work and revivals with a strong belief and teaching that Jesus Christ is coming again. Ted Wilson’s track record of achievements in the Seventh-day Adventist ministry is impressive. His father Neal C Wilson who was the GC President between 1979 and 1990 and with his wife Elinor C Wilson were part of the formation of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), visiting about 178 countries doing evangelism and expanding the work of the church with a passion for the underprivileged and the disenfranchised people of the world. His wife Nancy preached to the women of the Western Nigeria Union Conference on a day their children denounced the LGBTV+ community.
Wilson had taken over from Robert H Pearson and handed over to Robert S Folkenberg whose Global Mission Initiative witnessed a huge growth in church membership. The worldwide organisation of Adventists elected Ted Wilson President in 2010 for a five-year tenure which was renewed in 2015; on June 6, 2022, at the 61st World Congress of Adventists, Wilson was voted to remain in office until 2025 when the World Congress of Adventists would reconvene.
While in the country Wilson spoke on the need for men in power to rule with mercy, justice, and humility.
He told Governor Eno freedom of conscience for all should be one of the central pegs of governance. The governor could not hide his joy receiving the Adventist leader and his entourage. Eno said he was blessed to receive such a high-ranking church leader with less than five months in office, adding: “your visit is significant to us as a world leader; we cannot take it for granted.”
The governor did not fail to add as a footnote that Akwa Ibom was a God-centric state. He encouraged Pastor Wilson to continue to serve God diligently and with his flock, live the life Christ taught his disciples. Eno said he knew he would be held accountable of his earthly performance as governor the moment he was sworn in as in as Governor.
“I know in my heart that I will stand before God and answer to the oath of office I took. I am not perfect, and I cannot claim to be perfect. That is the whole idea I bring into governance because, for me, Christianity is not just about the name of the Church. It is about your life, who you are, and what you do,” Eno said, using the opportunity to thank the members of the church for having joined other members of the Christian community and the non-Christian community who saw him as worthy of service to the people, to elect him governor.
The Seventh-day Adventist guest reminded his hosts the church once described as the fastest growing church in the world, has over 22 million baptised Adventists spreading across 212 countries where it has contributed so much to the growth of humanity through education, health, culture, physical, mental, and social values of individuals notwithstanding their religious leanings. According to Pastor Wilson, the Adventists are everywhere doing the work of the Lord.
He commended the aesthetics of Akwa Ibom as a state while also saying he has followed the Governor’s leadership style in five months and what he saw were leadership qualities expected of a pastor, thanking the people for their expression and accommodation of other religious groups, what he said was the reason there was so much peace and progress in Akwa Ibom State.
Wilson visited the Seven-day Adventist owned Babcock University which was originally opened as the Adventist College of West Africa on September 17, 1959, for the training of church workers from where he arrived the headquarters of the Western Nigeria Union Conference in Maryland, Lagos.
He had earlier on Saturday November 4 been the guest of Arise television’s 30 minutes Morning Show programme. The next day Sunday, Wilson met members and officers of the Western Nigeria Union Conference in Maryland, concluding his visit with an exhortation. On television, he restated the need for men in authority to accommodate Adventists in all governance issues that fall on Saturdays, when the church elects to serve God according to Biblical injunction.
At the robust Maryland Church welcome, Wilson spoke on evangelism as central to his ministry. Think of God’s kingdom, he told the congregation, stressing the need for the faithful to revive their focus on Christ. He referred to the Apostle Paul who talked about the Ministry of Reconciliation. “God can bring all our problems together for good through the Holy Spirit. You are ambassadors of Christ. Be reconciled to God.”
According to him, this was the same instruction given to Moses, Isaiah, et al, adding the Bible remained the ultimate word of God for every Christian: “Don’t let the world squeeze you. You are ambassadors for Christ We must be united in his proclamation and be part of his activities in reconciling others to God. Jesus was sinless that he might become the righteousness of God in Christ. We have an amazing opportunity to become ambassadors of Christ and we must avoid every form of antagonism and vitriolic attacks against the church.
“The Devil is trying to disrupt God’s proclamation. Jesus is coming. Jesus will look down and say well done, good and faithful servants. Lord prepare their hearts and help them in the months and years ahead to be an ambassador for Jesus. Desire to be part of the mission because it is a chosen formation. We commit these beautiful people to you Lord. We want to be united to Jesus with the Western Nigeria Union Conference in the proclamation of the everlasting gospel for Jesus.”
Wilson has long returned to his headquarters in the United States.