By Libna Stevens - IAD
April 10, 2018 | Port-au-Prince, Haiti | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church welcomed thousands of new members during a massive baptismal celebration held last weekend at the Sylvio Cator Stadium in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. More than 15,000 were in attendance to worship, witness and celebrate the culmination of intense evangelistic efforts held throughout the capital city and the rest of the country.
Some 2,050 new believers were baptized on April 7, 2018, at the stadium and thousands more were baptized in four other main sites across the Haitian Union. The event was shown live on the internet and a national television station.
The event represented Inter-America’s annual baptismal celebration coined as “Lord Transform Me” where pastors and members across the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory are totally involved in the mission of the church as they live a transformed life in Jesus.
Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism and main organizer of the event, praised the work of the 230 preachers and hundreds of church members in Haiti.
“Thousands will give their lives to Jesus and live a transformed life, thanks to all of you,” said Braham. “Continue to preach the Word and help men and women accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
According to Braham, the event emphasized total member involvement in the mission of the church, inspire members for greater spiritual living in preparation of the Second Coming, impact the lives of individuals through many social projects, and in turn increase the kingdom of God throughout Haiti.
Church in Haiti
“This has been a historic moment for the church in Haiti,” said Pastor Pierre Caporal, president of the church in Haiti. “We have never seen such a wonderful impact with so many coordinated evangelistic campaigns throughout our country.” Caporal said pastors, lay evangelists and church members embraced the initiative six months ago and welcomed all 70 visiting evangelists from the IAD to a week of reaping campaigns one week before the April 7 event.
Caporal reported that 12,537 baptisms have taken place since evangelism efforts began in January. That is 600 more new members compared to last year’s baptismal reach of 11,900. Figures are still not final, but Caporal believes that the church across Haiti will reach 20,000 new members, a number they anticipated six months ago. Some churches are still pending to send in their baptismal reports from last weekend. The church held 300 evangelistic campaigns throughout the four regions in the course of three months.
Bursting with more than 459,000 members throughout its more than 1,100 churches and congregations, the church in Haiti continues to be the largest among the 24 unions, or major church regions in Inter-America.
During the live event, Caporal reported the progress of the church in their educational system, in religious liberty efforts, social work through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the country, the work for the family, children and disabled persons, as well as the service to the community through the Adventist Hospital in the capital.
Through the evangelistic initiative began in October, the church has been training dozens of church members, called pioneers, to plan 100 new churches throughout Haiti. The churches are expected to be established at the end of the year, church leaders said.
Haitian’s Ministry of Worship General Director Evans Souffrant spoke during the event and thanked the Seventh-day Adventist Church for their contribution to society.
“Your high presence today testifies of the commitment and organization of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Haiti,” said Souffrant as he brought greetings from the president and the prime minister. “I am touched by your statistics and how your religious institutions have grown so much.” Souffrant thanked the church for the relationship with the government and how the church has stood out as a three-fold religious organization with its humanitarian, educational and social contributions since the church was established in 1905. “The Adventist Church has participated in the development of the country.”
President of the Protestant Federation in Haiti Sylvain Exantus also thanked the Adventist Church for being an agent of change in the country. “We need transformation in the country and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is an important element for this transformation to occur here,” said Exantus.
Pastor Ramón Canals, Sabbath school and personal ministries director of the Adventist world church, spoke to the new and seasoned church members to be committed in fulfilling the mission of the church.
“God has called you and every member of the Adventist Church to be involved in this movement of men and women to preach the Three Angels message,” said Canals. “Our mission is to call all people to discipleship, preparing others for the Second Coming of Jesus.”
Pastor Lyndon Lewis was among the 70 visiting evangelists who traveled to Haiti for a week of evangelistic campaigns last week. Lewis is a district pastor of three churches in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. He said he enjoyed his first visit to Haiti and returns blessed from his experience preaching at the Providence Adventist Church, in Cap-Haitien in the northern part of the country. The local pastor oversees 16 churches but his elders and leaders are dedicated members every week.
“Every night, the church saw some 600 people to hear about prophecy, conversion and it was amazing to see the dedication of the pastor and his local elders, deacons and deaconesses,” said Lewis. He saw 65 new believers join the church because of the discipleship efforts of so many members in the church. Lewis holds four campaigns every year back home in the South Caribbean region and through the experience in Haiti has been reassured of his calling as a pastor evangelist after serving in the church for more than 26 years.
Pastor Eric Clarke, president of the North Bahamas Conference, led at Bible Auditorium Church, one of the biggest churches in Port-au-Prince, last week. Clarke also saw the extraordinary leadership and structure of operation in the church.
“Every member knows his or her role as they serve the church,” said Clarke. He added that 50 baptisms took place in the three weeks previous to his visit and 42 more signed up for baptisms at the end of the campaign he led.
Clarke officiated nine weddings last week and said the entire experience taught him many lessons. A veteran pastor with 37 years of denominational service, Clarke said he was impressed with how local church leaders care for the new members and have retention plans they follow as he heads back to the church he leads in Freeport, Bahamas, and oversees the leadership of the church—including 15 Adventist Churches in the conference.
Lord Transform Me initiative
The “Lord Transform Me” evangelistic celebration is not only about bringing in visiting evangelists and adding new members, but also about mobilizing more members to be involved in the mission of the church impacting their communities, said Pastor Braham.
Local church leaders reported that thousands of church members were involved in projects like health education, environment education projects, and more.
Nearly 200 young people took two days last week to clean up streets and communities near the stadium before the Sabbath event took place.
The Adventist Church in Haiti operates 80 primary and secondary schools, a university and a hospital.
Elsewhere throughout the IAD, thousands more joined the church as the result of committed church leaders and members united in evangelistic efforts during the first quarter of the year, said Braham.
The IAD will hold next year’s baptismal celebrations on Feb. 9 in the Atlantic Caribbean Union and Jamaican Union.
For more on Inter-America’s initiatives and activities, visit us at interamerica.org
Follow the live event
To view a photo gallery of the event, see below