February 14, 2020

Adventists have been on the cutting edge of technology to give the good news.

Standing on Mars Hill watching Friday evening sunset, Victor Hulbert recognized the similarities between the ancient world of first-century Christianity and the modern challenges of 21st-century Athens.

Called to support the Greek Mission with a weekend of communication training, Hulbert reflected on how the apostle Paul sought a way to break through the communication barriers of Greek philosophy and belief. Paul found a common platform — an altar to an unknown god.

Standing on Mars Hill, Paul proclaimed, “As I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship — and this is what I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23, NIV).

 

  • Greek Mission communication secretary Yannis Samaras (right), interviewed by Moses, a young elder, as part of the communication training in the Greek Mission. [Photo: Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News]

  • Saturday (Sabbath) worship in Athens Seventh-day Adventist Church. [Photo: Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News]

  • Sunset on Mars Hill, in Athens, Greece. [Photo: Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News]

  • The ancient acropolis contrasts with modern graffiti. How do we mix ancient and modern to reach society with the gospel of Jesus? That is one of the questions raised by Victor Hulbert at a communications workshop held by the Seventh-day Adventist Greek Mission in Athens, Greece. [Photo: Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division News]

And proclaim he did! Paul’s skill was to adapt his message to his audience. You can follow his missionary journeys and note the different styles. Read his letters and note them even more — the same gospel but slanted to audience needs.

The same applied to the communication training during the weekend, with Athens church members joining together with ministers and elders from across Greece for Saturday (Sabbath) morning and afternoon presentations, along with specialist training held with the ministers and elders on Sunday.

In an active question-and-answer period, one member asked whether the church should be giving up the old methods in favor of the new. “Not at all,” Hulbert answered. “We should still use the tried and tested methods while incorporating new ways to reach modern generations.” 

Hulbert emphasized that Adventists has always been on the cutting edge of technology to share the gospel — whether with books and tracts in the publishing ministry, radio — with the earliest broadcasts of H. M. S. Richards and the Voice of Prophecy — or more modern television ministries of It is Written, Faith for Today and, more recently, Hope Channel and internet ministries.

It was internet ministries that gained the primary attention of the young adult audience, hanging out in the upstairs balcony. Smartphones in hand, they learned how to effectively use their phones for Jesus.

One woman from Ukraine stated afterward, “I wish we had [Hulbert’s] message three years ago. I have been wanting to start a social media ministry and didn’t know how. Now I have some really practical ideas.”

Yannis Samaras is the pastor of the Katerini district in northern Greece. He also has a passion for communication and is now working with the team to restore an old radio studio in the Greek Mission office, buy some simple equipment for producing videos appealing to Greek culture, and engaging with the youth to record simple messages and testimonies that will appeal to their friends. Following the weekend, he is now looking for further training opportunities.

“I see this kind of ministries as one of the primary ways that we can use to build bridges and open doors with our local communities,” he said.

As for Hulbert, he said following his visit to Mars Hill and other locations of biblical historical significance, he aims to continue helping church members and leaders focus on practical ways of using media to share the good news of Jesus.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.

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