January 2011

Ted Wilson and Africa

Like many General Conference presidents preceding him, including Ole Olsen, William Spicer, William Branson, Robert Pierson, and his father Neal C. Wilson, Ted Wilson was molded by ministerial tenure in Africa.  Now home to roughly 40% of the 16 million Seventh-day Adventists worldwide, continental Africa has shaped the global church in profound ways, notably among them providing a training ground for its premier leaders. 

Ted Wilson was born in 1950 to parents serving as missionaries in Africa.  Spending his childhood in Egypt during the storied era of Gamal Nasser, the young Wilson witnessed the collapse of British hegemony and rise of Arab nationalism in the secular realm, and unprecedented organizational development—much of it still in place today—in Egyptian and Middle Eastern Adventism in the spiritual.

Not only growing up in Africa, Wilson cut his administrative teeth in Africa, holding several positions of leadership there for the length of the 1980s, including Ministerial and Stewardship Secretary of the Africa-Indian Ocean Division (1981-1985); Health & Temperance Director, Africa-Indian Ocean Division (1981-1984); and Secretary, Africa-Indian Ocean Division (1985-1990).  During this exciting era in African Adventism, Wilson contributed to the prolific baptisms, humanitarian efforts, innovative programs and administrative and organizational restructuring.  Indeed, Wilson witnessed firsthand the genesis of the great shift of Seventh-day Adventism eastward that has transformed the denomination.

One of the many challenges Ted Wilson will face as president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church is to utilize the evangelistic passion and expertise of those in areas that have achieved missiological feats, and apply it to regions where there is little or no growth.  His theme of “Revival and Reformation,” informed by his formative years in Africa, is a clarion call to the movement to reproduce the phenomenon of Africa's mind-boggling growth on a global scale.

-Benjamin J. Baker