February 10, 2019 | Alajuela, Costa Rica | Libna Stevens/IAD
Dozens of Seventh-day Adventist ministers from throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory recently joined local ministers across Costa Rica to preach the Word of God and visit the homes of thousands of members. The activity was part of an intense spiritual revival training initiative that seeks to motivate church members to get involved in the mission of sharing the gospel.
Coined as the Holy Convocation in Communion and Mission this year, the initiative follows the mandate found in Joel 2:15-16 to call a sacred assembly, consecrate and receive the Holy Spirit to fulfill the mission and prepare a people for the Second Coming, organizers said.
The training is the fourth annual event organized by the IAD’s stewardship ministries department to equip pastors to better understand stewardship principles and their role in strengthening revival and reformation for every member and family.
More than 120 pastors traveled from 18 of Inter-America’s major church regions, and North America to preach in 131 churches as well as visited more than 4,770 Adventist families during the week of Jan. 26 to Feb. 2.
“We know that the church member is the most important element of the church organization and thus we must meet their spiritual needs,” said Pastor Roberto Herrera, stewardship ministries director for the church in Inter-American and main organizer of the Holy Convocation events. “Our working model shows that strengthening Christian stewardship in the church will drive members to fully engage in carrying out missionary projects and activities to spread the gospel.”
Faithful and practical Christians
IAD President Pastor Elie Henry encouraged the pastors and church elders gathered to be faithful and practical Christians believing in every word found in the Bible as they shepherd congregations. “The Word of God is not like a buffet at a restaurant where I take what I hunger for or I only read what I need,” said Pastor Henry. “When I say I believe in the Word of God, I am assaying that I believe in the entire Bible and not only one part.”
Adventist Evangelist Alejandro Bullón reminded church pastors that before they disciple others, they must become active followers of Jesus. “Christianity is not philosophical, it is as practical for a Christian to eat, breathe and walk. Eating is like studying the Bible, breathing is praying and walking is leading one person to Christ.”
Communion and mission work together
“Pastors must visit members and ensure their communion with God is growing,” said Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church in Inter-America. “It’s about keeping a balance between spiritual revival or constant communion with God and the mission to get involved in reaching unbelievers. “In reality, mission is the result of the communion with God.”
That mission commitment in members propels them to support the evangelism work of sharing the gift of the gospel.
Herrera said that previous annual convocations held in Bogota, Colombia, Mexico City, and Puerto Rico, as well as regional training since 2016, has shown a remarkable change in offering donations that have allowed for greater evangelism impact in furthering God’s work. “The more faithful the church member is, the more generous and involved he or she becomes in the mission of the church,” he said.
Impact in Costa Rica
Pastor Wilfredo Ruiz, president of the church in the South Central American Union, said that initiative ignited church leaders and pastors to double their efforts in the churches.
“We had an opportunity to revive the church in times of so much secularism and spiritual apathy,” said Ruiz. Church members were invited to attend each evening to pray, worship, and learn about biblical stewardship principles.
Ruiz said that in the past, there has been little commitment from seasoned and young people when it comes to evangelism, but seeing the commitment from pastors and church elders, a better understanding of stewardship principles as well member home visitations, has sparked a renewed dedication to the visitation ministry and a new motivation for church member involvement to fulfill the mission of the church.
“This has forever changed the church in Costa Rica,” said Jesús Miranda, head elder of the La Esperanza Adventist Church in Alajuela. Miranda was amazed at how stewardship was taught every night by visiting Pastor Victor Valles, executive secretary of the church in Puerto Rico, during the week and the impact home visitations had on the 90-member congregation.
For Pastor David Maldonado, personal ministries director for the church in the North Mexican Union, it was a successful week of ministering to and visiting the members of the Fátima Adventist Church in San Jose. “It was an extraordinary week and it was plain to see that the brethren must be visited and the church must be shepherded,” said Maldonado. “The best that we can do is to pass on that passion for Christ, that communion with Him so that from there on, great things can take place in the church and the community.”
Pastor Ruiz said plans are moving forward for a regional Holy Convocation in Nicaragua next month where pastors and church elders in the more than 400 congregations will minister and visit members. The event will take place March 16-23, 2019.
Church member at the center
“We don’t have an ongoing fund-raising program in our church but our mission is to let members understand how stewardship works based on bible principles so we must put the member in the center of spiritual initiatives to motivate him or her to remain in spiritual revival and active in constant mission outreach,” Herrera said.
The Holy Convocation event in the Central American country challenged also featured speakers like Pastors Ramón Canals, personal ministries of the Adventist world church, Vladimir Polanco, editor at IADPA, Pastor Hermes Tavera of the Greater New York Conference. The conference also focused on stewardship biblical principles geared toward Young people and children.
The Adventist Church in Costa Rica also held dozens of health expos across the country as well as community outreach activities for children with days before and after the Holy Convocation training initiative.
Tomas Saez contributed to this report
To view photo album of the event in Costa Rica, go Click HERE