When I was a student in college nearly two decades ago, a well-meaning but misguided person said some slanderous things about former General Conference President Neal C. Wilson.
I had recently converted from Paganism and New Age back to Christianity, and as I was studying the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy I found many counsels that we as a church were ignoring. Most, like me, hadn’t read much of what was in the Bible and Testimonies, so we obviously were not living obeying the counsels. It was obvious that something was wrong with our church, and I wondered why.
I didn’t know the leadership of my church, or have much evidence that they were connected in any way with me, or were spiritually supportive of my journey back to God. Though I did not see any reason to believe the rumors about President N. C. Wilson, neither did I see any reason to disbelieve them—after all, they might be true.
I attended the General Youth Conference (before the name changed to Generation of Youth for Christ) in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2003. At this fledgling grass-roots conference I was surprised to see the name of General Conference Vice-president, Ted N. C. on the speaking list. I didn’t remember having heard a GC officer speak, and the speaker for the Sabbath sermon was the son of President N. C. Wilson.
I hadn’t decided what to believe about either the son or the dad, but I had my Scripture filter on and was ready to “prove all things, and hold fast to that which was good.” Thoughts like, “Can any good thing come out of the GC?” were going through my young brain. What could this “son of the church” and high ranking officer in the GC have to say to us who were hungering for the bread of life so? Amazing how humans can be so prejudiced.
Elder Wilson’s subject that day was the value of the Spirit of Prophecy and the precious truth entrusted to Seventh-day Adventists. I never knew he even existed before that morning. This was not the subject I expected a GC officer, especially one with a possibly sullied history, to choose.
But when Elder Ted Wilson opened his mouth and the first words came out, a unique thing happened. He spoke with a solemn, measured conviction that I had not heard before. His words were measured, clear, and powerful. I had the strong impression that I was listening to someone who was anointed by God for a specific purpose.
I felt that God was using him, even to the extent that the Holy Spirit (whom I knew well and had encountered many times in study and meditation of the Word) seemed to have replaced the air in my lungs with rush of fresh air the moment the sermon began. God’s Spirit was there. What a great sermon it was! I was blessed, I was humbled, and I rejoiced that we had a man with self-control, conviction, and measured faithfulness to God as one of the officers of our denomination.
I must say, when the news came of his election to presidency, I was not at all surprised. This was one of the reasons I rejoiced when he was reelected by a landslide vote in San Antonio. What little faith I had in the beginning of God’s ability to lead His people!
I’ve since had other surprises. Last year I attended my first Annual Council, where the General Conference executive Committee meets outside of General Conference in World Session. I have been pleasantly surprised at the spiritual tone and high quality I have seen in the Annual Councils I have attended, last year, 2015 and the one currently happening in 2016. I am at Fall Council and will be reporting on it.
Are the leadership perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. But I will tell you this.
God’s Spirit is here. I am, a simple pastor, observing with the delegates here, and gaining valuable tools which I will take to the churches I pastor. The reports have been gripping. Sometimes concerning, but clear, orderly, focused on solutions and going forward.
In recent years there has been an revival of prayer bathing these meetings in the rain of the Holy Spirit. These prayer meetings are led by Melody Mason under the direction of the Revival and Reformation Committee, headed by Elder Jerry & Mrs. Janet Page of the General Conference.
Other years they have led thousands around the globe in initiatives like Global Rain and Ten Days of Prayer. I see evidences of answered prayer at the General Conference headquarters.
God is moving.
For a couple days last week, Annual Council was blessed to have a large group of canvassers/Bible students from SOULS West in the Pacific Union Conference. God is even moving in the Pacific Union. He is bigger than our problems, our sins, and He is calling us to repentance.
I’ve observed, in varying degrees, a fervency befitting the times in which we live. Is everyone receptive to it? No, of course not. But it is pervasive and palpable.
More earmarks of revival exist such as initiatives such as TMI (Total Member Involvement), Centers of Influence for large cities and discipleship plans.
Now is not the time to disconnect from the church. Her best days are ahead. Yes, there will be trials, but God is taking the reins in His own hand and will guide us home. Keep our church in prayer. Keep supporting her. Pray for our GC president and officers. We will hopefully discuss many more such evidences of revival in the next few days at Annual Council 2016.
We’re getting His church back. Stay tuned!
Rich and Cathy, and their four precious children live in Oklahoma where Rich is the pastor of the Ardmore and Arbuckle View SDA churches. Besides God and family, they enjoy outdoor activities, traveling, and learning.