October 10, 2018 | Falmouth Trelawny, Jamaica | Nigel Coke/IAD News Staff
Dozens of children were among the 82 persons baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, during a special “Baptism of Praise” which gathered hundreds of church leaders and members at the Falmouth Adventist Church and other churches on Sep. 29, 2018. The event was part of a 12-month initiative in Jamaica and across the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory focused on celebrating the “Year of the Child and Adolescent,” this year. The theme for the day was “Healthy and Happy in Jesus.”
Representatives from the wider church organization were on hand to celebrate the day’s activities which saw eleven children and three adults baptized at the church’s main site in Falmouth. Among them was Dr. Linda Mei Lin Koh, children’s ministries director for the Adventist world church. Koh was impressed with the involvement of children in the church’s service in Jamaica.
The program, which was a Division-wide one, is expected to continue with the other unions in the IAD territory.
“It’s really wonderful to see children being nurtured and to be given a chance to be involved in our ministry, and they are not bystanders just coming to Sabbath school, but they are involved regardless of their age,” said Dr. Lin Koh. “I pray that God will give them more power that they are not afraid to share the gospel no matter how old or young they are.”
Koh said that total children involvement in the life of the church is essential in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Earlier in her address Dr. Lin Koh invited the Jamaica Union to participate in a special children evangelism fund which was voted by the General Conference to assist evangelism campaigns specifically geared for children.
Children and Adolescents Ministries Director of the Inter-American Division, Dinorah Rivera, assured the children present that God is interested in their welfare.
“I want you to know that God is looking after you and that He has a plan for you,” said Rivera. Rivera cautioned parents and the members of the church not to disregard the little ones believing that they are too young or unable to be used by God. “Don’t belittle what God can do and is interested in doing for all the children,” she said.
“Do the best for our children because they are not only our future but our present, so treat them with love and respect,” Rivera said.
Children Need to be Happy
Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents Ministries Director Dr. Lorraine Vernal used the occasion to remind members, church leaders and Adventist schools that children need to be happy as well as healthy.
“Children cannot be happy if they don’t have reason to be happy in the homes, our churches and our institutions because they are not being abused and they are not exposed to violence,” said Vernal. “As a church, we must help our children and adolescents to know that they have rights and they must not come to church feeling like someone is fondling them in the name of brotherly or sisterly love. If there is no other place that they feel safe, they should feel safe in the church.”
Church activities relating to and featuring children are essential to creating a happy atmosphere where children can develop and grow into productive members of society, said Vernal.
Dr. Vernal, who is a teacher by profession and a dispute resolution specialist, admonished adults to not speak to children and adolescents in any obscene language as this may affect them not only now, but for a lifetime.
Earlier in April, Vernal promised attendees at a child protection seminar that a child protection policy manual would be in place to be used in Adventist churches, schools and institutions, and that a critical element of the policy is the screening of volunteers and workers who are responsible for the care of children.