Just about two weeks ago, October 22 to be exact, a date which should be familiar to most Adventists, nearly 170 members and guests met in Sligo’s sanctuary to view, what was in my opinion, not only an excellent film, but one whose message was even greater. Sponsored by GLOW, the Young Adult ministry here at Sligo, the film was, Tell the World, a dramatized cinematic production which tells the story of the birth and development of the Advent movement. The film was debuted worldwide on October 22, the anniversary of the Great Disappointment, as a way of drawing attention not only to the film, but, more importantly, its message. As we know, it was on October 22, 1844 that many who were a part of the Advent Movement were greatly disappointed when Christ did not return as they had predicted and hoped.
What makes this production different from those you may have seen before that tell about the early years of our church’s history is that it was done not in a documentary style, but as a Hollywood featured film. And because it was done in this fashion, it helped to bring the story of Adventism to life. And what a story it is! I have been a fan of Adventist history ever since I took Adventist Heritage in college. Since then I have had the opportunity to teach this course in several of our institutions. But despite the fact that this story is not a new one for me, as well as for many others, I sat there in my pew mesmerized by what I saw. And it wasn’t simply because of the film’s amazing cinematography, but because this film served as a powerful reminder that as a church, we have a compelling story that the world needs to hear.
On this Sabbath afternoon, it didn’t matter whether you had grown up in the Adventist Church or were hearing this story for the first time, one thing was clear, the film’s message was unforgettable. And the message that came through with undeniable clarity was that these men and women who were expecting Christ’s return on October 22, were looking for him not out of fear of being lost, but because of the love they had for his return. This is what prompted many of them to abandon the churches of their youth and others to sell their possessions and give the money to spread the news of Christ’s imminent return. These pioneers were willing to give all so that others could hear the gospel of a Savior that was soon to return. As Professor George Knight, well known historian and educator of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, noted, “The journey of our founders is just one great story after another. They laid the foundation for a movement that God is still guiding today.”
So the question that begs to be asked of us today is, are we just as excited about telling this story of the Savior’s soon return? If not, then why not? What has caused many of us who are a part of the modern Advent Movement to lose our zeal to share the message of Christ’s return? Could it be that before we can spread this message to the world we first need to remind many, even within our own ranks, of the message we have been commissioned to share?
I want to encourage anyone who has not yet seen the film to view it as soon as possible. And let’s not stop with the film, but let’s research our history as a church and share it with our children, so that they will have a better understanding and even greater appreciation for our past as well as our future.