More than one million new members joined the church as Inter-America’s five-year initiative draws to a close

More than 7,500 church leaders, members and visitors filled the Centre of Excellence in Trinidad to view Inter-America’s Vision One Million celebration of territory-wide baptisms this year, during the live program on Apr. 4, 2015. Some 1,000,017 new members were added into the church during the last quinquennium, as of the first quarter of 2015. Image by Libna Stevens/IAD

April 5, 2015 | Port-of-Spain, Trinidad | Libna Stevens/IAD

Evangelist Mark Finley Image by Curtis Henry/IAD.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America sealed its five-year territory-wide evangelistic initiative called Vision One Million during a three-hour live satellite program from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Saturday night.

The event represented the culmination of thousands of evangelistic campaigns that took place during the last three months throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory. These efforts, when combined with similar efforts begun in 2011 when Vision One Million was launched, resulted in a little over one million new members added to the church.

Pastor Balvin Braham, associate ministerial director and organizer of the event, says Vision One Million has brought a spirit of collaboration among our church leaders and members across Inter-America. IAD file photo.

More than 7,500 church leaders, members and visitors filled the Centre of Excellence in Trinidad to view the event which was carried live on The Hope Church Channel, Esperanza TV, 3ABN, 3ABN Latino and on IAD webcast channel.

“Brothers and sisters, this is a proud moment in the IAD territory,” said Pastor Balvin Braham, ministerial associate director and main organizer of the event.

During the last few weeks, the church in the Caribbean Union territory participated in numerous community projects and social interventions which preceded some 300 evangelistic campaigns throughout the two dozen islands across the region, local church leaders reported.

Some 250 ministers and 450 lay preachers from throughout the IAD, Africa, Canada, England and the United States partnered with local church pastors for two weeks of evangelism efforts in churches, auditoriums, community centers and small groups this week.

Church members are recognized for their work in health projects and family interventions in the community during the past few months. Image by Curtis Henry/IAD

In the course of the live event, church leaders highlighted the work of committed members and professionals who have contributed to health initiatives, and family interventions throughout hundreds of communities during the past months and year.

As evangelist Mark Finley delivered the keynote message, he praised the work of pastors and church members for their commitment to sharing the Good News and encouraged the hundreds of believers at the Center of Excellence and thousands more across the territory following the program preparing for baptism to keep their faith in God.

“When you step out in faith, Jesus works unexpected miracles in your life,” said Finley. Finley assured listeners that “God is a God of unexpected blessings, a God of impossible possibilities and a God of new beginnings.”

A new beginning is just what Joseph Matieriene, 63, of Sangre Grande on the northern part of island, was looking forward to. Dressed in his blue baptismal robe, barefoot and estranged from his family, he smiles and says he is ready to leave his troubled life behind. That troubled life includes waywardness he said and a prison term of 14 years he served from 2000 to 2014.

Joseph Matieriene is prayed for before baptism. Image by Curtis Henry/IAD

“I’m not a very educated man and don’t have much of anything, but I discovered God’s grace while reading the Bible,” said Matierene. Although he had been baptized into a Christian denomination earlier on in his life, Matieriene saw an invitation for an evangelistic series in his neighborhood and was convinced of the Sabbath commandment and decided to be baptized at the Center. “I want to go to heaven, and bring others too,” he added.

Melissa Williams, 29, and her two young daughters were clinging to each other as they waited to be baptized. Williams had joined the church when she was 16 but later left. After having her girls, now 10 and 7 years old, she started bringing them to the Sangre Grande Adventist Church although she was not making the right decisions in her life. “The girls decided to give their life to Jesus and that moved me to leave my past behind me and be baptized once again,” Williams said.

“Jesus is life to me. My Savior and strength, he is everything,” said Williams, who is studying in her fourth year of nursing right now. “I just want to serve Him to the fullest and keep praying that my husband will soon want to give his heart to Jesus.”

Melissa Williams and her two young daughters view the live program before being baptized on the grounds of the Centre of Excellence. Image by Curtis Henry/IAD

Serving God in fulfilling the mission of sharing the gospel is at the core of the purpose of discipleship program the church in the Inter-America Division has invested heavily during the past five years, top church leaders said.

Mobilizing church members into action is what makes this church grow, said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.

“Vision One Million has refocused the church on evangelism and soul-winning, encouraging the church to go beyond the limitations or impossibilities they see around them for the gospel,” said Pastor Leito.

The main goal with Vision One Million initiative has not been the numbers, although you cannot ignore the numbers, yet it’s the impact, the effect of discipleship on those members that yield the numbers,” added Pastor Leito.

Numbers or not, every time the Vision One Million celebration has been hosted by one of the 24 major church regions in Inter-America, the work has intensified so that the local pastors and laypeople are energized to seek more with the hope of salvation, said Pastor Braham.

Dr. Kern Tobias thanks his leaders and members for their joint efforts during the hundreds of evangelistic campaigns throughout the Caribbean Union this year.Image by Curtis Henry/IAD.

Take for instance in the Caribbean Union where the church doubled its evangelistic efforts across its 24 or so islands alongside evangelists and preachers from across the IAD, more than 6,000 church members were added to the church just this year. Nearly the same amount was reached during 2014, said Dr. Kern Tobias, president of the church in the Caribbean Union.

“This has been one of the grandest evangelistic undertakings done in our region in years,” explained Tobias. “This initiative really boosted our pastors and church members to see that it is possible to continue drawing decisions for Christ in our territory on this scale.”

According to Kern, more than 178,000 church members have been involved in the efforts across the union which has some 240,000 church members worshiping in 722 churches and congregations.

Other major impacted cities, which have held the Vision One Million celebration programs included Mexico City, Bogota, and Guatemala City, and Maracaibo.

Pastor Mark Finley hands a trophy to President of the Haitian Union Theart Saint Pierre for being the top union to reach over 92,000 baptisms during the quinquennium. Image by Curtis Henry/IAD

“This initiative has brought a spirit of collaboration among our church leaders and members across Inter-America and has pushed us to look ahead to advance in creating a paradigm to sustain our growth and deepen our evangelistic impact in the months and years to come,” Braham said.

More than 70,000 new members joined the church during the first quarter of the year so far, Braham said.

The live program featured live feeds from 14 IAD sites where hundreds of baptisms were being held in real time as top church leaders from each of the unions prayed over the baptisms from Trinidad.

There were nearly 4,000 connected to view the live program from 54 countries, which was viewed in English, Spanish and French.

Unions were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the more than one million baptisms conducted within the quinquennium to this point. The Haitian Union was on top of the list for adding over 92,000 new members to the church.

Also, at the top of the list was the Chiapas Mexican Union with more than 82,000, the South Central American Union with more than 76,000, the Inter Oceanic Mexican Union with more than 73,000 and the Dominican Union with more than 70,000 new members.

Nearly 4,000 connections from 54 countries viewed the live program on Saturday, Apr. 4, 2015. Image from Revolver Maps–Live Statistics

Dozens of church members were recognized for being part of the church for 50, 60, and more years.

Leaders are looking forward to next year’s territory-wide impact which was voted to take place in Caracas, Venezuela.

To view a photo gallery of this year’s Vision One Million event in Trinidad, click HERE

To view the recorded live program, click HERE

This post is also available in: French Spanish

Categories From the Headquarter, RSS English | Tags: | Posted on April 5, 2015