WOA World General Assembly 2020 Ushers in New Phase of Rapid Mission Expansion

The World Olivet Assembly's (WOA) 28th World General Assembly concluded successfully after being held online for the first time. Due to the pandemic, travel and meeting restrictions did not allow for an in-person gathering for this year's anniversary celebration where normally thousands of delegates and participants would have come together from every region of the world to give thanks to God for the many developments and plan ahead for the coming months and years.

Thanks to today's advanced technology and the early and detailed planning efforts of WOA's IT department, however, the WGA could be held online with participants joining from their own countries and regions. Each of the Olivet Centers that serve as regional and national mission hubs acquired conferencing equipment that allowed them to not only listen to lectures and presentations but also interact in real-time with other participants around the world.

"We obviously would have preferred to meet personally and enjoy fellowship and meals together, but the digital format still allowed us to have very meaningful interactions and participants testified that they received a lot of grace and felt part of our global family," said Rev. Mark Spisak, WOA General Secretary. "The format and setup have also proven to be very suitable for regular conferences that will greatly strengthen our global network."

The WGA started with an Opening Service on Sunday, October 25, with the WGA's theme taken from Matthew 6:10 (KJV): "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done in Earth, as It Is in Heaven." It then continued with four days of conferences divided up into four parallel tracks leading up to the Anniversary Service on Friday and Closing Service on Saturday, October 31.

Global, regional and national Olivet Assemblies as well as WOA-affiliated ministries and fellowships introduced their respective video presentations that highlighted the past year's developments and looked ahead at what they expect that God will be doing in the next two years. Featuring several newly established Olivet Centers and fellowship headquarters and revealing the expanding global ministry networks, the videos testified to God's work in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic.

The presentations and sharing from church and mission leaders also highlighted that the necessary switch from in-person evangelism and activities to digital outreach in several cases led to exponential growth in Bible study attendance and online service participation.

"Seeing God's work in every region and nation, we are truly amazed at how He has turned the challenges and suffering that the pandemic brought into new opportunities to bring the transforming hope of Jesus Christ into the lives of many more people," Rev. Spisak shared. "The lockdowns, social distancing and isolation led many to a deeper reflection on the meaning of life and the purpose of their existence. And it is through God's Word that they receive comfort, strength and peace in the midst of uncertainty, and get to know the Creator God who loves them."

Each of the conference sessions lasted up to three hours in the morning in New York time, which was deemed as the most suitable window for global participation across time-zones. Aside from the video presentations and sharing, several keynote lectures equipped mission leaders with relevant insights on mission strategy, education, public engagement and other practical topics. They aimed to prepare churches, ministries and fellowships for the significant growth that has already become evident over the past few months and is set to continue to accelerate into the coming years.

"If we were to summarize the significance of this year's 28th World General Assembly, I would say that it was a time when we recognized the incredible growth that God has allowed in missions in each region in the midst of very challenging situation globally. And looking ahead, we want to be prepared for the rapid mission expansion that we anticipate in the next years," Rev Spisak reflected, and added: "Yes, we celebrate the developments that have taken place and continue to take place, but in all this we testify that it is by God's grace only that He has allowed such growth, and it is for His glory only. Just like the theme said, we are praying like Jesus taught us: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven."