I John 2:6 states, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” While a proper exegesis lends for many important life lessons and eternal principles, a group of members from the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in District 3, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), ventured to create a ministry based on “walking”.
An evangelistic health-focused initiative, dubbed as “NEWSTART WALKERS” and led by Tessa Smith along with other members of the church, was looking for practical ways to live the gospel. Given that individuals are generally unwilling to accept a Bible study from a stranger or a strange belief system but are more accepting of healthy lifestyle information to boost the immune system during the current pandemic, this initiative has created several opportunities to reach the community in a practical and innovative manner.
Every Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m., the group walks from the church’s newly renovated parking lot to the sound of meaningful chatter and occasional mild outbursts of laughter. The routes normally provide different exotic, breathtaking but relaxing views that are normally captured by those whose devices are kept handy.
Tessa, on speaking about the genesis and motivating factor behind the ministry, explained, “The walking group [started] shortly after coming out of our hard lockdowns last year. We were unable to fellowship at the church – we were spending lots of time online and it was not conducive to the healthy lifestyle we encourage. We wanted to use that time to encourage healthy living through exercise in the sunshine and fresh air. We also wanted to use that opportunity to fellowship, which we were unable to do for quite some time, and encourage the community to join us.”
Elder Khoy Smith, the Personal Ministries leader for the Maranatha Church, has not missed a step in an almost 8-month-old ministry and added, “This is a great opportunity to employ Jesus’s method that guarantees success in evangelism. We have seen a reconnect with many members who were not in attendance. We have also gained new friendships and a couple even visited our regular Sabbath service. The walk serves as an opportunity to talk about life’s problems, provide practical and spiritual counsel to our guests who joyfully join us for a healthy walk and end up motivated spiritually [while] surrounded by a group of “church members” who support.”
Maranatha SDA Church in Tortola, BVI, is a small tightly knit congregation pastored by Jerome Bevans and intern pastor, Ray Edwards. This congregation has a track record of innovation in pioneering several outreach ministries. A few years ago, this church was responsible for the genesis of the Hispanic work in the BVI and, lately, pioneered an approved initiative headed by a church planter, Wil Davis, who spearheads the Caucasian outreach. He understands the great beneﬁt of this group that walks as Jesus walked, and stated, “The group is a safe place; it provides for visitors to attend and experience true and genuine friendship without being pressured – it is also health centered.”
Several individuals have attended Sunday morning walks, and we can safely say this ministry has been providing opportunities for contacts and forging friendships that will eventually “walk” through one of the 12 pearly gates, by God’s grace.