After six weeks of online spiritual messages hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, a total of 4,213 persons joined the church through baptism during the Footprints of Hope Online Evangelistic Series.
The series, which featured keynote speaker and evangelist Glen O. Samuels, was possible thanks to coordinated efforts by evangelism teams on the ground throughout the English-speaking regions of the Inter-American Division, namely Jamaica, Atlantic Caribbean, The Caribbean, Dutch Caribbean and Belize.
“Breaking the evangelistic glass ceiling”
“The Holy Spirit has broken the evangelistic glass ceiling in many ways through intercessory prayer, the finest technical team and a global audience and baptism of souls,” said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School and Adventist Mission director for the church in Inter-America and main coordinator of the Footprints of Hope Series. The online series was the first among five online regional campaigns which is grouping Inter-America’s 24 unions, for collaborative, integrated evangelistic efforts this year as the IAD celebrates 100 years since it was established as an organized division territory.
From Jan. 15 to Feb. 25, 2022, thousands from across the Caribbean, Central America, North America, Asia, Europe and other parts of the world watched and listened via YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms, Free-to-Air Television, cable, radio and Hope Beyond.net as Pastor Samuels spoke.
Believers traveling to Jamaica for baptism
One of the hundreds baptized on the final day of the series on Feb. 26, was 86-year old Maudlyn Linton-Young, who flew from Tampa, Florida, United States, to get baptized.
“What prompted me to come down was Reverend Glen O. Samuels,” said Linton. “The greatest preacher I have ever known was Billy Graham, but this ‘Glen O’, how my grand-niece calls him, he can preach and he would tell where to find everything in the Bible and I would write it down and read it the next day.”
It was a watershed experience for the church, said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the church in Jamaica and chairman of the planning committee for the online series.
“I will remember this campaign for the over 4,000 baptisms, the efficient and effective utilization of technology in soul winning, the synergy that existed between the leadership and members of the unions in the planning and execution of the series and the powerful Bible-based preaching of Evangelist Glen Samuels,” said Brown. The campaign resulted in 2,267 baptisms in Jamaica. “Indeed the Evangelistic glass ceiling was broken in many areas and going forward the way we do public evangelism will never be the same again,” he said.
Committed work of digital bible workers
Hundreds of bible workers coined as Digital Bible Workers (DBW) ensured that those who called for prayer, counselling or baptism were reached during the series every evening. One such person was Shorna Myrie, an elder at the Salem Adventist Church in Montego Bay, who, along with her fellow DBWs, was able to assist 60 persons to baptism.
“I was privileged to serve as a DBW,” said Myrie. Her duty was to respond to telephone calls and requests in the chat rooms. “Persons would call for prayer and most requests were health issues or for them to recommit to the Lord,” she said. “The lines were especially busy during the sermon and appeal.
Calls came in from all over the world and in some cases Myrie and her teammate had to try to locate pastors from different countries and locations to arrange for baptism, she explained. “One lady from Connecticut [United States] brought her 13 year-old son to Jamaica for baptism,” said Myrie. “It was quite a rewarding experience.” She learned that persons want to connect with persons who are caring, patient and have a knowledge of the bible.
Stefan Murray, an engineer from Kingston, was baptized on Feb. 12, despite the emotional challenge he had of hearing the news that his wife had lost their baby on that same sabbath morning. When asked what gave him the courage to get baptized he said, “I realize that I would need extra strength. I would need something else to fight. I may not know what is happening, but I am trusting Him [God].”
Impact throughout other unions
In the Caribbean Union territory, there were 913 persons who were baptized during the online series. Dozens of churches featured the evening programs and more watched from their home.
“The impact of the evangelistic series will surely bring more interested persons to study the Bible,” said Pastor Royston Philbert, ministerial association secretary for the church in the North Caribbean Conference. There were 56 new believers who joined the church last month when the series ended, but more and more are approaching the churches in St. Croix USVI and nine other islands in the conference. “Just last Sabbath after church a couple who had been viewing the series came and indicated their desire to be baptized,” he said. “We are going to be baptizing more and more people long after the series because the impact of the series on their lives.”
In the Atlantic Caribbean Union, which is comprised of The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos, 512 joined the church during the online evangelistic series.
“For us the idea of taking part in the ‘Footprints of Hope’ series was quickly accepted by the leadership throughout the union,” said Pastor Peter Kerr, president of the church in the Atlantic Caribbean. Before the plans for a collaborative regional campaign with sister unions in the IAD, church leaders had planned on taking part in an evangelistic campaign online for the entire territory months before the idea was brought on for the Footprints of Hope, explained Kerr.
“It was very easy for us to quickly transition and coordinate efforts on the ground and with the other unions,” he said. Church leaders and members united efforts, held prayer vigils, seasons of prayer and intercessory prayer groups early in the morning during the series and held extended periods for the appeal every evening at local churches after Pastor Samuels made his appeal. “The [online] campaign provided opportunities for unity in some areas that members had never seen at this level,” said Kerr. Church leaders and laypersons were active in doing visitations and praying for people in many communities unreached before, he said.
A model to follow
For Pastor Kerr and his team of ministers and leaders, the online series was a brilliant idea. “This is a model that needs to be followed on a regular basis at least once a year.”
In the Belize Union, 405 persons were baptized during the series and pastors across the Central American country keep baptizing persons weeks after it concluded. The success of the online series drove church leaders in the South West Belize Mission to organize a team of 10 local pastors to hold a two-week-long in-person evangelistic series through specific churches and communities where there is no Adventist presence. “We had members and visitors watching at churches, at market places and our pastors were busy Sabbath after Sabbath baptizing so many people,” said Appleton Carr, president of the church in Southwest Belize Mission.
“We are continuing with the same ‘Footprints of Hope’ theme in some of the most remote areas in the deep south close to the border with Guatemala where we have many Spanish speaking persons,” said Carr. The series has fostered a renewed enthusiasm among local pastors and laypersons to double their efforts in spreading the gospel further. “Rallying the pastors together to join the online series was the key to so many joining the church,” he said. Thirty-nine new members joined the church in the Southwest Belize Conference last month.
The success of the Footprints of Hope Evangelistic Series is evident, said Pastor Telemaque. “God helped complete the first-ever six-week series organized in Inter-America with a harvest of more than 4,000 precious souls, and sustained the largest movement of intercessory prayer warriors during the entire six-week period and beyond,” said Telemaque. “With God’s help, we were able to create a new paradigm of evangelism in the English-speaking unions.” Training for retention and reconciliation of the new members has already began online this month.
Additional regional online evangelistic campaigns in the Inter-American Division are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks and months from Central America, the Spanish-speaking islands in the Caribbean, Mexico and French-speaking territories.comments powered by Disqus