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Michael Wixwat Accepts Call to Serve MENA

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On April 30, 2016, Michael Wixwat, left his position as Vice President for Finance/Treasurer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the British Columbia Conference for a new role as missionary treasurer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Union. He has been ministering in MENA since June 1, 2016, with his wife Melanie serving as the personal assistant to the MENA president.

Michael and Melanie with Beirut in the background.

Wixwat has the distinction of being one of BC Conference’s longest serving administrators, having started there in September of 2005, and after nearly 11 years of faithful service has left a legacy of excellence. Wayne Culmore, recently retired president of the BC Conference, says, “For close to 11 years, Michael kept the BC Conference on a solid financial foundation—members of the Board of Directors, the Finance and Building Committee, and the ABC Committee held Michael in the highest regard and respected his expertise. [Notably], for the past two years the BC Conference has received a clean letter—which is unheard of—from the auditors. I don’t need to convince anyone what an incredible job Michael has done—his work speaks for itself.” 

When asked what they will miss most about Wixwat, his close colleagues depict a man who is not only a fantastic administrator but also a friend. Sven Tornlov, associate treasurer and planned giving director, and Esther Kuppers, administrative secretary, say, “He’s an excellent treasurer because he’s very focused but also knows when to have a laugh.” Wesley Torres, then vice president of the BC Conference (now President of BC Conference), concurs, “He’s a guy that means business, [but] he [also] has a big heart.”

Wixwat feels especially fortunate to be able to work for God in MENA as a couple years back, he fell through one of the conference skylights and sustained multiple injuries; these included five broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured clavicle, scapula and wrist, and a minor fracture to two lower vertebrae. He was in the ICU on a ventilator, but by God’s grace was brought out of a coma within the next few days. 

His health restored, Wixwat most anticipates meeting newly baptized members in places like Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and the Gulf; meeting Waldensian students studying in major universities across MENA who are making friends and sharing their faith; and seeing a “Witness on a Wall” event, where an Adventist artist and young people join local artists and community youth in producing a public art project.  He says, “God is working in the hearts of people all over the Middle East and North Africa and it will be exciting to meet some of those people!”

Beautiful sunset in Beirut, Lebanon. iStock Photo: 75920859

Wixwat asks that the Church of Canada “pray for the indigenous people of this territory and the protection of our workers who live in difficult and dangerous situations where there is no freedom to [preach the Gospel].” He also invites that the Church in Canada to sponsor different groups to work in MENA, such as pastors, Adventist professionals and Waldensian students from Canada, to help spread the Gospel in a largely unreached territory.

Directly connected to the General Conference, the Middle East and North Africa Union is comprised of 20 countries. The region is bordered by Morocco to the west, Iran to the east, Turkey to the north and Sudan to the south. There are roughly 500 million people in MENA, encompassing 48 cities that each have a population of more than 1 million people. Languages spoken include Arabic, Turkish, Berber, Farsi, French and English. The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon, which was established in 1939 and is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. MENA has 1 Adventist for about 159,000 non-Adventists.

iStock Photo: 27400784

Wixwat’s secretary, Betty Lang, cites the qualities that will help him be successful in this new territory as “his encouragement, his well-spoken demeanour and gift with finances [demonstrated] in how he took care of the treasury.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in British Columbia and the Yukon is comprised of approximately 11,300 members in 101 churches and operates 15 schools. Their mission is to REACH people with a Christ-centred message of hope and wholeness using revival and transformation, education for discipleship, alignment within the church, community outreach and evangelism, and healthy leadership and management.

By Charles Ed II Aguilar, Communication Director
Seventh-day Adventist Church - British Columbia Conference