Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director in charge of cross-cultural missions throughout Inter-America speaks during an online training focused on motivating pastors, mission leaders and active members to reach people groups throughout the territory. The online program took place on Jan. 11, 2020, from Miami, Florida, United States. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

January 21, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

Seventh-day Adventist Leaders at the Inter-American Division (IAD) are experiencing a shift  in evangelism across the fast-growing territory. Not in the traditional methods of planting churches among a particular group of people or culture, but planting churches within people groups that cross the boundaries of ethnicity, culture, and beliefs.  It’s a shift that has been in motion for several years and one that led to a special online cross-cultural training session held on Jan. 11, 2020.

“Our main focus is to provide you with new knowledge, new skills and new attitudes toward planting new churches among growing ethnic groups, migrant communities, and more throughout Inter-America,” said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director in charge of cross cultural missions in Inter-America, and main organizer of the event.  “This is cross cultural mission.”

At the forefront of the event, Telemaque explained the practical process of planting churches for pastors, mission leaders and active church members so that they can  better understand the biblical teaching about reaching people of all nations.

Pastor Jeff Scoggins, Global Mission and strategic planning initiatives director for the Adventist world church [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

“The entry process begins by prayer, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, then assessing the needs of people, learning their values, and identifying someone within that community that leads to knowing the group better,” said Telemaque.  Then the process that follows is socialization with the people in the community, he said. This includes talking, listening and assisting others with their pressing needs, introducing health lectures, strengthening families, conducting sports activities other activities of interest to the group. “The process then moves to acceptance, where they accept you into the community because you become a friend to them.“

After a period that could take four to six months or longer, the process moves to the teaching, preaching and proclaiming of the Word of God, explained Telemaque. “It’s important that you tell them who God is, what God has done for them, and their responsibility now to Christ as a result of salvation,” he said. A group of believers is formed and discipling continues as they get incorporated into the life of a church. “We must contextualize the Word of God.”

Cross-cultural mission strategies in Inter-America have strengthened as leaders have seen growth in the Hispanic, Chinese, Muslim, and Mayan communities.

“This is the right time to provide additional training for people on these pressing issues we began addressing,” said Telemaque. Language is a key barrier, he explained. So is culture.

Petras Bahadur, director of the Global Center of Adventist Muslim Relations for the Adventist world church [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

One of the major challenges to the mission is understanding that there are worldview differences. “We see things with a western perspective—emphasize guilt and the law, individualism, while people groups like the Chinese, Muslims, and Hindus, see with an eastern world view—a linear world view where everything leads to a definite goal,” said Telemaque.

So far there are 10 centers of influence operating across Inter-America. In addition, two Chinese missionary families are serving, one in Panama and one in Honduras. A new Chinese missionary family is expected to arrive in the Dominican Republic next month and another family in Mexico City, April 2020.

The four-hour event included presentations which delved into understanding the different aspects of church planting, reaching and ministering to refugees and migrant communities, assessing the needs of Muslim families and designing the right ministry to reach them, and reaching the Chinese culture and the French diaspora.

In addition, top Adventist world church leaders touched on how to deploy Global Mission pioneers in Inter-America, how to become career missionaries, connect and minister to the indigenous people groups, explore current volunteer opportunities, how to apply for funding for centers of influence, and more.

Edmund Cao, director of the Global Chinese Mission in Hong Kong speaks during the four-hour online training event, Jan. 11, 2020. [Photo: Keila Trejo/IAD]

According to Telemaque, estimates of the number of Chinese in the IAD territory include more than 130,000 in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Suriname.  More than one million Muslims live in Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. More than 300,000 Hindus live in Trinidad, Suriname and Guyana.  Refugees and indigenous people groups amount to thousands more.

“In Inter-America, we are committed to the task of planting new churches for God, and expanding God’s Kingdom among different people groups in Inter-America,” said Telemaque.  The IAD leads in cross-cultural mission initiatives and projects around the Adventist world church, he added.

Presenters included: Jeff Scoggins, Global Mission and strategic planning initiatives director for the Adventist world church; Petras Bahadur, director of the Global Center of Adventist Muslim Relations for the Adventist world church; Terri Salee, coordinator of the Adventist Refugee & Immigrant Ministries for the North American Division; Edmund Cao, director of the Global Chinese Mission in Hong Kong; Esteban Ricardo Palacios, Ministry Initiatives director and Africa Field Director for Adventist Frontier Missions; and from the IAD Leonard Johnson, executive secretary; Max Laurent, field secretary overseeing the French diaspora; Janelle Scantlebury of Adventist Volunteers, and Kern Tobias, president of the Caribbean Union.

Pastor Max Laurent (right), field secretary overseeing the French diaspora explains the diverse french-speaking people groups across the territory. Suzanne Babshaw translates into English. [Photo: Keila Trejo]

To view Inter-America’s online Cross Cultural Training Session, follow:

HERE for English

HERE for Spanish (an updated online transmission will be uploaded soon)

HERE for French

To visit our photo gallery of the online event, Click HERE

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