February 13, 2019 | Montego Bay, Jamaica | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America celebrated big in Jamaica as more than 8,000 crowded the Montego Bay Convention Center and outer court to worship, praise and witness the results of intense evangelistic efforts and community impact events across the island and other parts of the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory.
More than 200 new believers were baptized on site and hundreds more joined the church across Jamaica, the Atlantic Caribbean islands, as well as parts of Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, organizers said.
The event, which was streamed online, represented Inter-America’s annual baptismal celebration convention coined as “Lord Transform Me”—an initiative which involves motivating every church member to pursue a transformation in Jesus through a daily study of the bible and a prayerful lifestyle for total involvement in action plans and activities in sharing the gospel within their communities.
Focus on wholistic health
Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism and main organizer of the event, praised the work of hundreds of leaders, local pastors, lay preachers and active church members in the IAD who actively spread the good news of salvation and engage in social projects and health impact activities across dozens of communities.
The focus this quarter is on wholistic health for personal and national transformation, said Braham. “As a church we believe that we have a strong health message that speaks to the whole concept of healthy lifestyle and prevention and we are able to utilize this valuable resource to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals, families, and society at large,” said Braham.
The annual territory-wide celebration was moved earlier this year than it’s usual April event to coincide with the visit of Adventist world church leaders attending the 12th annual Global Leadership Summit Feb. 4-10, 2019. The summit focused on practicing good health. World leaders joined local leaders in taking part in a health expo where hundreds received free health screenings and medical services in Montego Bay.
World church leaders also took part in evangelistic campaigns in local churches across the Parish of St. James and other parts of west Jamaica. At the same time, 145 visiting evangelists from throughout Inter-America and North America preached in other parts of Jamaica and at the Atlantic Caribbean Union which comprises The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos.
Custos Pitkin of St. James Conrad Pitkin praised the work of Seventh-day Adventist for ministering to the sick and showing the importance of good health.
“I commend the commitment and unquestionable dedication of the members of your medical team during this venture [of the health expo],” said Pitkin.
Pitkin encouraged Adventists to continue to bring a positive change in helping Jamaicans become healthier and more productive in order to ensure a bright future in the nation.
Sabbath spiritual message
Adventist World Church President Ted N.C. Wilson delivered the main spiritual message to the large congregation on Sabbath, Feb. 9.
Pastor Wilson tailored his message to the dozens of new believers who made the decision to be baptized and those still undecided.
“This is the beginning of a new journey…a journey that doesn’t end with baptism but marks the beginning of mission service,” said Wilson. “We are told in the Spirit of Prophecy that everyone who is baptized is born a missionary.” Pastor Wilson encouraged the congregation to become active in proclaiming the Advent message, keeping heaven in sight and all that will take beyond the Second Coming of Jesus as he reflected on the Book of Revelation 21.
Pastor Wilson challenged each person in the audience and the viewers online to make a difference in their communities. “Be of service to others, share your walk with Jesus with others, proclaim Gods’ love, His great law and grace, the health message as a restorative message…pointing to Christ Soon Coming,” he said.
Church members involved in evangelism
Donna Brown took every word to heart as she listened to Pastor Wilson’s message before getting baptized. At 52-year-old single mother of seven, Brown recently decided to accept Jesus into her life for good. She had grown in the church but left at 18 without ever being baptized. “The time was right,” said Brown. “I feel so proud to be here and see so many Seventh-day Adventists. It’s like I feel light like floating on clouds. I know that God cares for me and my family and I want others to know how much Jesus means to me.”
Brown accepted Jesus thanks to the dedicated evangelistic efforts of Samuel Smiley, a car dealer in Kingston, Jamaica, who invites business colleagues and people in neighboring communities to study the Bible in his business establishment every Tuesday evening. Brown is one among many community members Smiley has brought into the church. Brown has been attending the Kencot Adventist Church in Kingston and is eager to take part in serving in the 600-hundred member church.
It’s about getting total member involvement in the mission of the church, said Braham as he introduced active church members on stage who reported on how they have been witnessing for Christ and leading new believers into living the gospel.
Education, Community Service and Evangelism
IAD President Pastor Elie Henry praised the work of the vast territory for being involved in the “Lord Transform Me” initiative which has led so many to share hope in their communities and yielded so many new believers.
“Our goal is to have every member living prepared for the Second Coming,” said Pastor Henry. He highlighted the three principle goals the church in Inter-America will continue to focus on during the next two years: (1) Education, as in developing knowledge and skills in specific areas to fulfill specific mission; (2) Community service, as being actively involved in doing outreach that address social needs of people to help improve their quality of life; and (3) Evangelism, which is sharing Christ and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus.
Impact in Jamaica
Pastor Everett Brown, president of the church in Jamaica, reported during the live program on the various ministries of the church that collaborated together to impact the lives of people in the nation.
“We sought to get all our members involved in the mission of the church in the role children, youth, women, men and families play in the lives of the community in which the Adventist church serves,” said Brown.
Church members embraced Mission 2019, which began in October 2018, taking part in more than 1,000 health outreach projects and expos throughout the 750 congregations across the islands, Northern Caribbean University, and Andrews Memorial Hospital.
The church has also partnered with the Ministry of Health through its Jamaica Moves and Adopt-A-Clinic programs as it seeks to make Jamaica and Jamaicans healthier and more productive.
“Our goal is not only to respond to the needs of people but lead people to Jesus,” Brown said.
During the month of January and February, 210 evangelistic campaigns were held throughout Jamaica, resulting in more than 2,807 baptisms as of Feb. 9. More evangelistic campaigns will take place in the coming weeks, local church leaders said.
More than 140 evangelists from the IAD and North America preached during the end of evangelistic campaigns the week of Feb. 2 to Feb. 9 throughout Jamaica and the Atlantic Caribbean islands. According to Braham, almost 23,000 new members have joined the church this year.
Church pastors and active members continue to work arduously as evangelistic campaigns will take place in the coming weeks and month to reach more persons with the message of the gospel, said Braham.
Church leaders expect baptismal figures to reach thousands more by the end of March. “We believe that the church is on course to achieve over 50,000 new members,” Braham said. That means more than 27,000 are expected to join the church during the next six weeks.
The IAD will hold next year’s Lord Transform Me Convention in Central America in April of 2020, with the principal site in Costa Rica.
For more on Inter-America’s evangelism initiatives and activities, visit us at interamerica.org
To view the Lord Transform Me Convention in Jamaica, Click HERE
See photo gallery HERE