May 8, 2013 – Bogota, Colombia…Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America celebrated the fruits of its discipleship training program with a special satellite live broadcast from Bogota, Colombia, on May 4, 2013. The event was part of a multi-layered territory-wide initiative called “Vision One Million” which began two years ago. The Vision One Million initiative integrates church departments and ministries leaders to train and empower one million church members to become true followers and witnesses of Jesus.
More than 12,000 church members and visitors packed the G12 Convention Center in Bogota to witness and participate in the three-hour program which highlighted the end of intense evangelism campaigns held throughout the large capital city.
“Thank you church in Bogota and the rest of the South Colombia Union for your enthusiasm and commitment and efforts to impact this large city,” said Pastor Eliseo Bustamente, president of the church in South Colombia, as he addressed the 143,000-member-strong South Colombia region during his opening remarks.
Multiple activities to impact the city included a series of community activities in the city such as a marathon, street prayer sessions, seminars to restore marriages and families, health expos, health screenings, support to cancer foundation and prison ministries, among others, reported local church leaders.
Vice President for the Senate of the Republic of Colombia, Dr. Edgar Espindola, thanked Seventh-day Adventists for their contribution in improving society by restoring families and standing by the Word of God which teaches the emblem of a family between a man and a woman.
“The congress feels honored for the work that your church is doing for the country,” Dr. Espindola said.
Some 70 of the longest standing Seventh-day Adventists in South Colombia were honored during the event for their commitment in fulfilling the mission of the church. Among them was Leonil de Diaz, age 91, with more than 80 years of being baptized in Colombia, who was recognized by Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America and Pastor Balvin Braham, associate ministerial secretary and organizer of the event.
Adventist World Church President Ted N.C. Wilson spoke during the program through a video message. Wilson congratulated the church in Bogota and across the Inter-American Division (IAD) for their efforts in spreading the Gospel in their communities.
Pastor Orville Parchment, assistant to the Adventist world church president delivered the keynote address. Pastor Parchment encouraged viewers to study and believe in the Bible in readiness for the Second Coming of Jesus during the end of world.
“This world is in desperate need for knowledge and God is asking us to listen to his voice and to follow His Word,” said Parchment. Parchment addressed the more than thousands of new believers to be baptized in the minutes that followed at the convention center and across churches in Inter-America that day.
Raul Taborda and his wife Gina were among the visitors who came to the satellite event to be baptized. The couple found themselves attending the evangelistic campaign held at the Kennedy Adventist Church in Bogota last week after a failed business and troubled marriage threatened them. Touched by the Holy Spirit, Taborda, a former Seventh-day Adventist, and his wife decided to be baptized and get married.
“God has called us to return to his ways,” said Taborda. “I learned that there is no life without Jesus and I want to return to His ways form now on.”
Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez was also among those baptized during the event. After attending the evangelistic campaign at the Fontibon Adventist Church last week, Rodriguez, 36, decided to renew his commitment with God. Rodriguez had battled with alcoholism during the 11 years he had left the church.
“I’m so happy to return home,” said Rodriguez, “but more so because I feel peace after leaving my life behind and being clean in Christ Jesus.”
Reaching out to those in need of a Savior was the main objective of the initiative, said Pastor Braham.
“One of our objectives in Bogota was to impact this second largest city in our division and we are happy with the results,” said Braham. “Although the city is larger than our capacity to reach in one event, we made a significant approach in the process of evangelizing that city.”
According to Braham, some 3,580 new members joined the church as a result of the evangelistic efforts among the 130 churches in Bogota and the 130 evangelists from South Colombia and evangelists from the IAD territory who doubled efforts for the city-wide impact.
Elsewhere in Inter-America, the church celebrated and viewed the satellite program transmitted by the Hope Channel, Esperanza TV and 3ABN Latino.
“With this event, we realized our purpose of mobilizing members of the church to their responsibility for witnessing,” said Braham. Braham said that 14 of the 22 union in Inter-America reported nearly 86,000 baptisms since January as a result of the Vision One Million discipleship program and its adjacent activities during Inter-America’s Year of the Laity this year.
The initiative has top church leaders excited at what has been set in motion in engaging members to introduce Jesus to those around them as the church in Inter-America and worldwide intently aims to reach the large cities.
“We are continuing to set our sites on reaching more of our large cities in Inter-America, especially Mexico City during our massive impact planned for next year,” said Pastor Leito.
For more on Inter-America’s Vision One Million Initiative, CLICK HERE
To view a photo gallery of the Inter-America’s Vision One Million event, CLICK HERE
William Estupiñán and Marcela Piñeros contributed to this report