The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in the North Caribbean Conference (NCC) is excited about its 2019 evangelistic exploits. Church members rejoiced as a “reach-in-church” changed its focus to become a “reach-out-church” during the third quarter of 2019. Hundreds of church members, gifted evangelists and committed pastors re-doubled their efforts and shared the gospel in communities across the Conference.
“It’s a signal year as practically every minister in the Conference was engaged in some form of evangelistic thrust,” stated the Assistant to the President for Evangelism, Pastor Hesketh Matthew. “Added to that, the evangelistic plan included major evangelistic initiatives in three of the major islands of the Conference.”
As of November 9, 2019, when most of the meetings ended, the special evangelistic thrust, which started in September, had resulted in over 100 baptisms. A final tally will be available after the scheduled St. Thomas pastoral campaigns end.
Pastor Desmond James, President of the North Caribbean Conference, said, “I think we are seeing the beginning of a mighty wave as pastors get excited about evangelism, again, in the Conference.”
On Tortola, the evangelist, Dr. Henry Peters, and the Living Hope Gospel Explosion campaign team engaged the community for five weeks – at the festival grounds in Road Town. The campaign did not host meetings during its second week because of a hurricane threat and inclement weather. Undaunted by the lost time, the crusade team, managed by Pastor Leriano Webster, prepared 35 souls for the Kingdom of God. Testimonies from the newly baptized members revealed the great sacrifices and radical decisions some individuals made to serve God. One sister expressed her newfound joy in Christ, “I told those around me that there is nothing in the world and if death should come now, I want to be sure that I am saved.”
Dr. Peters shared, “It [the impending hurricane] was one of the greatest challenges faced in my evangelistic exploits.” Nonetheless, this is one of the happiest times because of the people who took their stand for God.” Other crusade team members explained how much they benefitted from the campaign preparation and that the experience taught them how conduct evangelistic series and helped them to overcome timidity.
On St. Maarten, the evangelist, Pastor Wilmoth James and the Optimum Health campaign team delayed the start of the crusade by one week because of an approaching hurricane. After five weeks of preaching in the capital, Philipsburg, 61 persons were baptized.
Pastor James said, “When it comes to evangelism, I believe that if there is even only a 1 percent chance of success, then you’ve got to do it. There is no best time for evangelism now. Times have changed and we will have to embrace every opportunity to preach this message. Since this is the hurricane season and community activists are not engaged in anything that wins the community, this is now a new opportunity to seize the attention of the community.”
The series drew hundreds of members and guests, nightly. Pastor James used the health principles from the Genesis account to thrill the crowds. “I have never heard some of the things he said,” commented Raphael Dowe, a media specialist who covered the campaign. “Listening to this convinced me that this is really the message and the Adventist Church is blessed with great leaders and wonderful information.”
The campaign emphasized the “whole man”. In addition to a health fair that attracted over 500 persons, teams prepared healthy meals and support was given to breast cancer survivors. Community members were invited to health walks, dog walks and to donate to the less fortunate. Pastor James, who functions as the Executive Secretary of the Conference, indicated, “The entire community benefitted from the campaign and it attracted people from every sector of the community. The 61 persons who were baptized, for the first time, included more males than females and included indigenous members of the community – who for the first time were getting affiliated with the Adventist Church. A new generation of Adventists were born on the island.”
“After serving in this campaign, my life and ministry will never be the same,” said Pastor Timothy Leito, a native of St. Maarten who served as a Bible Worker on the crusade team and is a ministerial intern at the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church on St. Croix.
On Anguilla, the evangelist, Pastor Preston Patterson, and his team demonstrated unwavering commitment to the mission. Under the leadership of Pastor Howard Simon and Pastor Lester Jules, the crusade team marshalled members in a tireless assault on the enemy. With hard work, commitment and determination fifteen (15) persons were baptized. The journey was not easy and an optimistic Pastor Howard Simon stated, “The Lord helped us to depend on His Holy Spirit (not on self) and to cherish a consistent relationship with Him.”
Pastor Desmond James praised church members for embracing Total Member Involvement (TMI) evangelism around the Conference. “The evangelistic meetings have kindled a new fire for Christ in church members. More than that, it has helped us to achieve our evangelistic goal of growing the church by over 400 members for 2019.” Total Member Involvement is a World Church initiative that encourages each member to bring someone to Jesus.
“It is amazing how church members have come alive in their efforts to touch the hearts and lives of their friends, relatives, and neighbors,” Pastor Desmond James said. “This is exactly what Christ wants them to do as His disciples. It’s amazing to see what God is doing in the NCC. We did not get all we desired but we are thankful for what God did.” Similar sentiments were expressed by Pastor Hesketh Matthew. “If we had to do it all over, we would because, had we not, those over-100 souls would not be rejoicing in the Lord.”
The leadership of the church is now looking to its new evangelistic thrust, Impact 2020, under the theme “I will Go”.