April 4, 2018 | Georgetown, Guyana | Royston Philbert/IAD Staff
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Guyana recently celebrated historic evangelism efforts which brought more than 1,400 new believers into the church. Guyana, which belongs to the the Caribbean Union, is located on the northern mainland of South America.
Some 5,000 church members and friends met at the National Exhibition Center in Georgetown, on Mar. 17, to witness 101 new believers get baptized into the church, during the conclusion of dozens of evangelistic campaigns held for over a week. The effort was coined as Impact Guyana 2018.
People traveled many miles by river, air and land to participate in the Sabbath celebration, recommit to spreading hope in their communities, and to be inspired by witnesses relating encounters with the Holy Spirit at evangelistic sites.
“I am moved beyond words at the dedication of our church leaders, pastors and members just to be here,” said Pastor Richard James, president of the church in Guyana. “It is no secret our members are struggling in so many ways, but their commitment to the mission of the church has been incredible to see.”
Pastor James said that Impact Guyana 2018 was “better, greater, far more inspiring and transformational,” that the conference has ever seen. The efforts followed the “Lord Transform Me” division-wide initiative to motivate church members to seek a closer relationship with Jesus through daily prayer and reading the Bible and sharing hope in their communities.
During the last three months, pastors and the laity have worked extensively with the community, to prepare for the massive community undertaking, James said.
“It took pastors, small group leaders, and lay members working together across eight of the nine regions in the conference,” said Pastor Jumoul Sancho, assistant to the conference president for evangelism and local coordinator of the efforts.
Dozens of pastors from the Caribbean Union territory traveled to Guyana earlier in March to hold evangelistic campaigns in 50 sites on the island.
Guest Speaker Steve Riley of the South Caribbean Conference in Trinidad, reminded church believers that “Allow God to use you and witness how God is changing the lives of people all around. You may lose everything but you have Jesus and He can transform your life.”
During an emotional appeal, Pastor Riley was joined by Pastor Claudius Morgan and several visiting evangelists as he implored the audience to recommit their lives to God and seal the act through baptism.
Church leaders who presided over the baptismal service included Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director for the church in Inter-America, and Pastor Kern Tobias, president of the church in the Caribbean Union.
In his address to the worshipers, Pastor Tobias said that the Impact Guyana efforts set the model that can be taken to other constituencies in the Caribbean territory. “It left an indelible impression on the minds of everyone present,” said Tobias.
The effort was the first of its kind organized by the Caribbean Union and coordinated with the local church in Guyana, Tobias said.
Pastor Claudius Morgan, assistant to Pastor Tobias for evangelism in the Caribbean, said he saw the enormous effect the campaigns had on mobilizing local pastors and church members. Pastor Morgan oversaw the coordination of evangelists and campaign sites.
“The church here took this initiative as their own and made it work successfully,” said Morgan. “We are working on rekindling the fire of soul-winning throughout the Caribbean Union, stressing to our pastors not to stop nor slow down on the mission to reach more souls for the Kingdom.”
Mary Hatton, 91, was among the hundreds who joined the church during evangelistic campaign efforts held at the Victoria Adventist Church. “I am so very happy I have given my life to Jesus and I know it is the right decision,” said Hatton. She said she studied the Bible with the church elders and several members, the evangelistic campaign led by guest speaker Pastor Anthony Hall, youth ministries director for the church in the Caribbean, led her to really look at the importance of the ten commandments found on Exodus 20, particularly the fourth about resting on the Sabbath. Hatton is excited to start attending the Victora Adventist Church and beamed with happiness when told transportation will be provided.
“I have this great joy in my heart today. I feel like a brand new person, said Vicroy Henry, who is the first person from his Amerindian village of Moraikobai to become a Seventh-day Adventist. The village is along the Mahaicony River and Vicroy travels the 90 miles to church in about two hours, by speed boat.
Henry said his life had been filled with anger, drinking and smoking just about every day, but one day his cousin, invited him to visit the evangelistic meetings.
“I was so impressed and moved by the message that I continued attending and began to feel a transformation take place in my life. My life has a new meaning and I’ve left the bad habits behind,” said Henry. He recognized that he was on the verge of losing his life and believes that God saved him. Henry dreams of becoming a missionary and reaching out to those in his community who need a Savior.
Over the years, Guyana has seen many join the church. In 2010, the church baptized 1,250 souls into the church during another intense evangelistic campaign. In 2017, some 2,183 persons join the Adventist Church as well.
At the close of the program, leaders recognized the work of dozens of pastors who are impacting evangelism in the Caribbean Union.
There are more than 65,000 Seventh-day Adventists worshiping in 212 congregations in Guyana.