November 3, 2023 || St. Croix, US Virgin Islands | NCC Staff
The Belle Vue and Carrot Bay SDA churches that make up District 2 on the Island of Tortola held a 5-week tent evangelistic campaign from September 3rd to October 7th, 2023, at Capoons Bay field on the western side of the island. “The Victory In Jesus Bible Festival” with district Pastor, Ray Edwards as evangelist was streamed on both YouTube and Facebook with an average nightly viewership of over 600.
First District Representative and Junior Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr the Hon Karl Dawson was on hand to declare the meetings opened. In his brief remarks he highlighted the positive impact the Seventh-day Adventist churches on the island of Tortola had on the community and in his personal development.
The program lineup for these meetings witnessed some traditional items along with the modern approach. Traditional aspects in tent crusades included the “question box” and nightly quizzes and modern approach saw online quiz and the “winners’ wheel of fortune”–a highly anticipated weekly feature which determined the quiz prize winners. Online giving for the special offering was also made possible through the NCC Tithe.ly App to engage the online audience which stretched from the Caribbean to North America.
This was the second 5-week campaign held by Pastor Ray Edwards on Tortola the first being The Shocking Bible Prophecy series which was a completely virtual program. Pastor Edwards has been the speaker for a weekly radio program by the same name for the past four years. In fact, many people who were invited to the crusade said that they listened to his weekly broadcast.
According to Elder Nigel Henry, first elder for the Carrot Bay SDA church, “these meetings were not only for the community but to build up the church as well as a means of conserving the members.” He added that “the biggest challenge was the lack of guest under the tent.” Elder Henry, a seasons Lay Evangelist himself, led the Bible Worker’s team and shared management of the crusade with Elder Alic Galsgow the first elder for Belle Vue SDA church.
When the crusade date was first advertised many people questioned the timing as it is the height of the hurricane season. However, the meetings were blessed with fair weather until the middle of the final week when Tropical Storm Philippe collapsed the tent, forcing the services to move to the Carrot Bay Youth Center, current worship center for the Carrot Bay church. The members, though a little disheartened, came out in their numbers the afternoon of October 4th to help in the cleanup and disassembly of the tent. There was also limited damage to some equipment, but most were saved from the ordeal of the storm. Interestingly, the prayer tent, though much smaller, appeared untouched by the storm.
The change of venue did affect attendance, but not the spirit of the worshippers. The last Sabbath saw the final baptism of the crusade and a sumptuous fellowship lunch that followed.
“I think that as the church is moving to shorter and shorter evangelist campaigns, we must concentrate on more field preparation and train our members to do home bible studies,” says Pastor Edwards. “With the advent of social media and so many choices of entertainment it is becoming more difficult to attract guests to our meetings as a tent crusade is no longer a natural crowd puller anymore.”
The Belle Vue and Carrot Bay SDA churches are now rejoicing in their new additions and look forward to following up with the interest created by this campaign.