On Sabbath morning during the 2023 Annual Council session, Ted N. C. Wilson and Erton Köhler, president and executive secretary of the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventists, respectively, announced the Adventist Church will send the Contero family to serve as missionaries in Switzerland. In partnership with the Inter-European Division and Andrews University, Jonathan Contero, along with his family, will move to Switzerland to plant a church. This new church plant will honor the 150th anniversary of the Adventist Church’s first mission endeavor when John Nevins (J.N.) Andrews and his family moved overseas to Switzerland.
A Historic Event with a Modern Twist
Switzerland is a country of over 8.7 million people and is considered a post-Christian nation with only 5,000 Adventists and 57 churches in the country. Köhler shared that the Contero family accepted the call to “establish a center of influence and plant a new church in Switzerland.” Köhler continued, “In today’s ceremony, Pastor Jonathan and his family will be dedicated to the Lord because they were specially chosen for a mission.”
Olivier Rigaud, president of the Swiss Union Conference, welcomed the Conteros to Switzerland, saying, “It’s a privilege and an honor to welcome you as a missionary family in Switzerland.” He presented the family with symbolic gifts, including flags and chocolate, representing the sweetness of the Swiss country.
The family was also presented with a special pocket watch, a gift laden with symbolism. “This watch is here to tell us that it is time to go back to Switzerland. For you, for me, and others, to go back to Switzerland for mission,” explained Rigaud. The watch featured an image of a fisherman, underscoring that the Conteros are called to be “fishers of men.”
The event served as a dedication and transition from celebrating the Church’s 160th anniversary this year to the 150th anniversary of Adventist mission work next year. The ceremony was also a call to action, urging all Adventist organizations to have special ceremonies dedicating missionaries as part of the Church’s 150th anniversary of mission.
Meet the Conteros: A Family on a Mission
The Contero family—Jonathan and Abigail have two children, Nathan and Lydia, and are deeply committed to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Jonathan has served as a pastor and church planter for 11 years, primarily in Madrid, Spain where he has been working with a largely secular community. His experience in Madrid has prepared him well for the challenges he will face in Switzerland, a country grappling with increasing secularism. Since 2019, Jonathan has also served as the associate director of the Global Mission’s Center for Secular and Post-Christian Mission at the GC, giving him a global perspective on the challenges of secularism, not just in Europe but also in countries increasingly post-religious.
Their family embodies the Adventist ideal of Total Member Involvement, where every family member plays a role in the mission. Jonathan described their mission as an opportunity to “pour ourselves into enlarging the Church and strengthening the mission.” The family’s collective commitment to this cause makes them an inspiring example for Adventists worldwide, reminding us all that mission work is a calling for every member and every family.
Echoing the Legacy of J.N. Andrews
“It’s time to go back to Switzerland,” said Wilson, emphasizing the historical significance of this moment. In 1874, J. N. Andrews set sail for Neuchatel, Switzerland, accompanied by his son, Charles, and daughter, Mary. His mission was groundbreaking for the Adventist Church, marking the beginning of its global outreach.
Andrews was not just a missionary but also a scholar, editor, and a key figure in the early development of Adventist theology. His journey to Switzerland was a courageous step, especially considering the challenges of the time, including language barriers and the absence of modern communication tools. His commitment to spreading the Gospel in Europe laid the foundation for the Adventist Church’s global mission work, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of Adventists committed to taking the message of Jesus’ soon return to all corners of the world.
Like Andrews, Contero is sponsored by the GC and is a student of Andrews University, also named after the pioneering missionary.
A Renewed Commitment to Mission
As the Adventist Church prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary of mission work, sending the Contero family to Switzerland serves as a powerful reminder of the Church’s commitment to fulfilling Matthew 24:14. “Now is the time to refocus on mission. Now is the time for greater mission effort, locally and worldwide,” urged Köhler.
The Contero family’s mission is part of the larger initiative, Mission Refocus, aimed at prioritizing resources for frontline mission work. It’s a call to every church member to be involved in some form of mission and service, encapsulated in the GC initiative known as Total Member Involvement.
Source : Adventist