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03 January 2020 | Reykjavík, Iceland [Gavin Anthony] 

On Wednesday, 1 January 2020, Gavin Anthony, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Iceland was among invited guests to a New Year’s reception at Bessastaðir, the official home of the President of Iceland. Following the reception, he shared this reflection:

Iceland presidents houseIn visiting the home of Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and his wife, Eliza Reid, I was not going as a celebrity or a politician or a successful businessman. My invitation was because I was head of the Adventist Church in Iceland.

As I prayed about the visit, the thought went around in my head that I was going as an ambassador—an ambassador for Christ and His Kingdom. As Paul writes, “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” [2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV].

When you go somewhere as an ambassador, you do not go with your own agenda. You are not there to make yourself look good, or to try and obtain some sort of personal advantage. An ambassador is there to explicitly express the thoughts and interests of the Sovereign they serve.

So, what would God want to say to the president of Iceland and his wife? I would only have a few brief moments with them privately, so what message would God want left behind? What should I say?

IC recption invite 1600My other prayer was for the reception. I specifically prayed that God would place me in the paths of people that He wanted me to talk to, that I could have conversations that would make a difference for His Kingdom. I knew there would be lots of different people attending, but who would God direct me to meet? What providential meetings would He create for His own purposes?

As I walked through the front door of Bessastaðir and waited for my turn to meet the President and his wife, there were indeed many different people present. But the person who came and joined the queue directly behind me was the Catholic Bishop of Iceland. We talked for about half an hour together. Later we were joined by the head of the Muslim Association of Iceland and the head of the Orthodox Church.

Out of all the possible people I could have spoken to that day, God led me to these specific individuals.

How about you? As you start this new year, who will God lead you to speak to? As you think about your role as an ambassador for Him, where will you go and what will you say as His representative?

Before attending this reception, I reflected a little on the first few verses in Romans 13 where Paul describes how the authorities on this earth are established by God. Then in 1 Timothy 2:2-4, Paul writes, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” [NLT]

So that is exactly what I talked about in my conversation with Guðni and Eliza. I told them I would be praying for them in the year ahead. Whatever their own religious beliefs, I wanted to leave them with the knowledge that Seventh-day Adventists are people who believe in the power of prayer and that God intervenes to give leaders wisdom when someone is praying for them. Oh, and somehow, despite being English, I managed it all in Icelandic!

As we begin this year, we will need to pray for many things. From my personal perspective, and on behalf of our members in Iceland, one of the most important things we need to reflect on together is what our purpose is in Iceland. Two decades into the 21st century, why are we here? What does God want us to contribute to Icelandic society? This will have implications for how we look at the use of our money, time, churches and properties.

The answer to this question should not be based on either my personal opinion or that of anyone else. Rather, we must focus on Scripture, because it is in Scripture that the purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is rooted. We are not here by chance. God brought this church into being for a specific, prophetic, purpose.

During the Christmas period we reflected on Jesus coming as Saviour. That is important, but as we look forwards, we focus on the hope of the second coming when Jesus will come as King.

As we begin this new year, I pray that God will deepen our prayer life as a community and our faithfulness to Scripture. And that through this combination of prayer and faithfulness to God’s words, God will do wonderful things, through His ambassadors, for His kingdom.

Happy New Year!
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