My Favourite Stories #83

A Mission Movement is born.

In 1874 The Seventh day Adventist church sent its first overseas missionary to Europe. John Nevins Andrews was called by its leaders “the ablest man in our ranks.” He spoke at least seven languages, could repeat the New Testament from memory and knew most of the Old Testament also. He was a brilliant, scholar, a prolific writer, a powerful preacher, and a competent theologian.

Why send a talented man like that to a place where there were very few like-minded believers? Why send “the ablest man” you had to an unknown mission field? And why was he willing to go? His wife had died a few years earlier. Two of his four children had died in infancy from tuberculosis. Why would he be willing to leave family and friends behind in America and sail with his two remaining children (Charles and Mary) to an unknown land, risking all for the cause of Christ?

Andrews helped start a publishing house in Switzerland and an Adventist periodical in French, “Les Signes des Temps” (1876) (English; “The Signs of the Times.”) In 1878 Mary contracted tuberculosis and died. John continued his work as a missionary in Europe, dying there in 1883 of tuberculosis. He was 54. He is buried in Basel, Switzerland. His grandson John Nevins Andrews was a medical missionary working in Sichuan Province, West China.

Why would such a gifted man give up everything and go where there was nothing for him? There is only one reason! He believed that Jesus was coming soon, that the message of end-time truth must go to the entire world. Andrews sensed the calling and significance of a message tailor made for this generation, based on the three angel’s messages of Revelation 14: 6-12. A message the Adventist church had become committed to. It was an urgent, end-time message that Jesus said must be proclaimed to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people in order to prepare the world for Christ’s return. The messages of the three angels have been the motivation for Adventist missions since their beginnings. Andrews University was named after this “first foreign missionary.” The university is now part of the world’s second largest educational system (The first being Catholic).

Throughout our history, our brightest and our best have travelled to the ends of the earth to proclaim God’s last day message. They were teachers, medical personnel, pastors, farmers, mechanics, carpenters, and trades people of all types. Some were denominational employees, but many were not. They were lay people who believed Jesus was coming soon. These people believe that they are part of something bigger than their own lives.

There is nothing more inspiring, more fulfilling, more rewarding than being part of a divine movement, providentially raised up by God to accomplish a task far bigger, far larger, than any one human being could accomplish on their own. Revelation 14:6-12 is an earnest appeal to give our lives to heaven’s grandest task to reveal God’s incomprehensible love just before Jesus returns.

The peaching of the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6) leaps across geographical boundaries. It penetrates earth’s remotest areas. It reaches people of every language and culture. Eventually it will impact and polarize the entire world. Since Andrews went to Europe in 1874 the Adventist church has become the most international protestant denomination in the entire world. It is a missionary movement heralding the Second Coming of Jesus. Not as a babe in a cattle feed box, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Even so come Lord Jesus! Maranatha.

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