The year 2020 was a very difficult year for Minnesota, the nation, and the whole world! I remember the death, the riots, the shut down because of COVID, the election, but by the grace of God we pulled through. But I have been wondering, how can the Seventh-day Adventist Church move forward, collaborating, working together to preach to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. How do we bring together different cultures, ethnic groups, skills, and perspectives to accomplish the proclamation of the everlasting gospel?
I was reminded that in the struggle for African independence, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) popularized the slogan Harambee, which literally means “all pull together” in Swahili. The slogan speaks to the issue of working together in unity and togetherness. In my reading I found that the word became the building block of the New Kenyan government, with the philosophical presupposition that all Kenyans, regardless of tribal affiliation or regional belonging should work together and, therefore, they were entitled to the oneness of a common life, to common pleasures and common love. This affected the people’s lives, resulting in communities working together to build roads, dams, clinics, schools, houses, etc. The point I am making is that this philosophical position called for deeper allegiance, and called people to put aside all differences and work together.
I am bringing up this issue of togetherness because I think as Adventists, we ought to find in ourselves the ability to work together. For a moment there in 2020, it almost appeared like togetherness was falling out of our communal relationships as a people! I want to suggest, as a church we should all pull together. Logic suggests that there is a greater need for collaboration across racial lines, for us to work together now more than at any time in our history, if we are to see to the finishing of God’s work.
I believe that the Harambee philosophy of togetherness “all pull together” is not just an African political slogan, I believe that it is a Christian spiritual issue. I believe that this Remnant church that truly believes in God, ought to make a difference. Working together should be essential in our being. The Lord Jesus invites us to be His followers, to join hands and pull together. Togetherness as a community of faith should present itself as a rallying point, “all pull together” so that the communities around us will declare like the psalmist: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Unity in diversity
I want to also suggest moving forward we, as a corporate body and as individuals in this generation should summon the Harambee spirit. Adventists, Black and White, must summon the courage to confront the things that divide us (like racism) before these things show their ugly head again, like what happened in 2020. In the Minnesota Conference, we have taken seriously the psalmist’s call to “dwell together in unity” recognizing our multicultural composition as God given, seeing our togetherness as God’s goal, designed to fill us with joy and love, and to use us as instruments for witnessing as we engage in the great commission of Matt. 28:18-20!
Having said that, I also believe that my call for unity and togetherness must not be divorced from its historical context within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I recognize that as a church we currently run two segregated administrative structures, created in 1944. So, let me tell you why I bring up this Harambee philosophy. I am an African and an American, I have seen sadness and trauma, thus I long for unity and togetherness. Somewhere in the waste of the years I realized how wonderful it is, how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters in the Lord live in harmony! I am hopeful that all is not lost! We as Seventh-day Adventists can work together and live together! We can come together, we can worship together, this can be a blessing to our communities, we can follow the Lord Jesus together.
I will be honest: I do not agree that we Adventists are so polarized between Black and White that coming together under one administrative structure is practically meaningless. I do not even believe the argument that coming together would split the church. I believe to the contrary that our belonging to Christ should bring down all walls that separate; I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church should give “equal opportunity” and “other organizational benefits without consideration for race, color, gender, national origin, ancestry …” I believe the Remnant church should not allow itself to be overpowered by our present situation, and thus become cold, dry, lifeless, monotonous, individualistic, and sorrow-stained as the hills of Gilboa! No, I believe that the Lord can show us “a better way,” we can work together. I believe that the church for a long time has engaged in a form of “self-deception” in race relations. I believe Dr. Ricardo B. Graham was right when he wrote, “Leaders and administrators throughout the church have avoided addressing this issue effectively, thus weakening the witness of this denomination.”
Finally, I want to suggest the church must, by the grace of God, come together. I believe we must pray together despite our differences in age, differences in the color of our skin or places of origin. As the Remnant church, we need to, we should, we must, because the basis of our unity and togetherness is God not tribe, nationality, or skin color. Dr. Graham is again right when he wrote, “God has high expectations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, the church has not yet met the goal of being a totally inclusive body, even though Adventism is making strides in that direction.” Good! I am saying the Seventh-day Adventist Church should continue to strive for oneness and togetherness. Jesus Christ invites us to proclaim “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” This everlasting gospel proclamation is not only for the far away world out there – Asia, Latin America or Africa. No, this proclamation is for our world here, too. Every nation, kindred, tongue and people in Minnesota and the Mid-America Union Conference.
My friends, there’s work to be done. We are in a great big, broken world, with people who need to know God’s love. Let us focus on mission and ministry. Let us keep our EYES on Jesus. It is good that we are Adventists waiting for the coming of the Lord. But are we ready?
I ask, let us not settle for the status quo. I invite all of you church members who have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and have been baptized, members of this Remnant church, which ever ethnicity, to strive for oneness and togetherness, to seek after unity, to respond to the mission call with “I Will Go” to use your God-given spiritual gifts, talents, treasure, and influence in witness and service for Christ. Let us reach the world next door.
Our strategic plan in Minnesota Conference is to focus on Evangelism, our Youth, our Christian Education, growing in our Spirituality, being faithful in our Stewardship and engaging in community Service – “EYES on Jesus” is our rallying cry. It is a call for you to be involved. It is about your church partnering together with God to share the gospel with all our communities -Asians, Blacks, Hispanic, Native Americans and Whites. Everyone. Let us all pull together- Harambee!
 Psalm 133:1 KJV
 NAD Working Policy E 86 2017-2018
 Ellen G White, Testimonies for the Church, p 207
 Ibid., p. 137 emphasis mine
 Revelation 14:6 NKJV