Delegates from Panama welcome the more than 1,400 attendees to Inter-America’s territory-wide Public Campus Ministries Congress which opened on July 18, 2019, in Panama City. The event will train Adventist university students and professionals for the three-day event, to be more effective in sharing the gospel on campus and communities where they live.  Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

July 19, 2019 | Panama City, Panama | Libna Stevens/IAD

Inter-America’s territory-wide Public Campus Ministries (PCM) Congress opened last night amid shouts, chants and music led by more than 1,400 Seventh-day Adventist students actively involved in sharing hope on their non-Adventist campuses and communities. The students, joined by professionals and church leaders in Panama City, on July 18, 2019, basked in their unique cultural presentations, and were inspired to continue to testify their commitment to becoming stronger ambassadors at home, at school, and play.

The PCM Congress will feature over 28 speakers and two dozen seminar presentations on sharing the gospel using all media available, establishing centers of influence on campus, reaching the post-modern individual, how to lead a successful ministry, learn to become a student literature evangelists, how to become a cross cultural missionary locally and around the world, and more.

“You are here because you have been invited from on High,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America. “It’s beautiful to see that you as young people all across Inter-America have heard the voice of the Lord, accepted to walk with Jesus and taken a stand to represent Him.”

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry welcomes the delegation and opens the congress event. Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

By merely being at the congress launch, said Pastor Henry, “you are saying that you want to continue on this special calling and are here to understand better how to be more effective ambassadors for Christ.”

Pastor Henry encouraged students to take in all the seminars, plenary sessions and planned activities, being assured of God’s leading. “We are in a world that needs God and each one of you needs to be clear on standing for Christ and living the Christian life every day.”

This three-day event is the largest territory-wide PCM congress to gather so many students and professionals from across the 24 unions in the Inter-American Division.  The IAD has held two other congress events during the past four years.

Student delegates from Honduras share their national pride during the parade of nations session. Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

Themed “Send Me – I Want To Be An Ambassador,” the congress seeks to reassure students of their role of representing Jesus in the secular environments in which they study and live, said Pastor Hiram Ruiz, director of PCM for the church in Inter-America and main organizer of the event.

“Pray that the Lord will fulfill His purpose in your life today, because the Lord needs you as a vehicle to share hope, faith and love,” said Ruiz. Ruiz invited delegates to shout PCM’s motto together to: Follow Jesus, Embrace His Mission and Change the World, and Lord Send Me.”

Pastor Jiwan Moon, PCM director for the Adventist world church, thanked government leaders and local organizers for welcoming the international delegations to the colorful city of Panama. “I bring you greetings from Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted Wilson and thousands of PCM ambassadors from around the world,” said Moon. “Continue to follow Jesus, embracing His mission. Let’s change the world.”

Pastor Hiram Ruiz, PCM director for the church in Inter-America encouraged delegates to Follow Jesus, Embrace the MIssion and Change the World. Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson challenged the delegation through a special video message to let the Holy Spirit speak to each one of the delegates and “to be bold and stand for God in these last days in your churches, on your campuses and your community by being a follower of Jesus, and becoming Christ’s missionaries.”

During his keynote address, Dr. Felix Cortez of Andrews University spoke on the history of post-modernism and asked the delegation what is the best way to sell a product. “How do you sell Jesus when people are disillusioned about Jesus?” asked Cortez. It’s about seeing and experiencing Jesus that brings a change in post modern individuals, said Cortez.

“It is not the time for sermons, it is a moment for action,” he said. Cortez challenged each student and professional to invite their friends to experience the gospel by serving others. It’s about engaging their friends in the kind of impact that will take them to experience something that will move them.

A delegation of university students from Cuba sing a song during the parade of nations. Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

“Before you speak, think of what they have on their minds, how they think and then point them to Jesus,” Cortez said.

Having a large platform to point to Jesus is just what Stanley Philord, 22, of The Bahamas dreamed of while he studied at the University of The Bahamas. Philord shared one testimony on how the Lord at every turn guided him to reschedule examinations on Saturdays. “I give thanks to God for never having to compromise the Sabbath while enrolled at the university.”

“I always dreamed of becoming senate student speaker and somehow my opposing candidates arranged it so elections would be on Saturday,” said Philord. “I had a choice to either compromise my Sabbath or trust God.” Philord said that on the day of elections, it turns out it had to be moved from that Saturday because there was not enough quorum for the vote.

Stanley Philord of The Bahamas holds his “Extreme” PCM backpack for his positive influence and leadership of the PCM association for the Atlantic Caribbean Union. Photo by Daniel Gallardo/IAD

“I want to leave with this: always trust God, do your best that you can and leave the rest to God and He will see you through,” Philord said.

With a degree in accounting, Philord is planning to pursue a marketing degree and continue taking part in on-campus witnessing opportunities and activities with the more than 450 Adventists students that ministry together at the University of The Bahamas. He is the PCM coordinator for the Atlantic Caribbean Union which oversees the church in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos.

To view a photo album of Inter-America’s PCM Congress opening night, Click HERE

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