More than 21,000 new believers joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church during a two-week evangelistic series that swept through the Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, from March 25 to April 9. 2022. Crowds gathered in large churches, auditoriums, sports fields and outdoor stadiums, while some watched online as evangelistic efforts in the area concluded.
“Don’t give up, there is still hope” was the resounding message heard in all seven countries by the keynote speaker, Inter-American Director of Personal Ministries Melchor Ferreyra, who reminded viewers and listeners each evening that in the difficult times, God is near.
“God has the power to help you face the ‘giants’ that come your way,” Ferreyra said. “Life does not end when you fall, it ends when you give up, so you must make the decision that even in the difficult circumstances you must choose to be happy in the name of Jesus, learn to trust him and you commit to him.”
The key is to hold on to hope that Jesus will return for us, Ferreyra said as he closed the series during his message in Guatemala City on April 9, 2022. “There is hope that Jesus will return soon, and He will sustain us with his Holy Spirit in times of struggle.
Ferreyra’s message touched the hearts of 200 believers who came from all over Guatemala City to be baptized in the auditorium of El Progreso Adventist school.
New members in Guatemala
Silvia Avila, 51, of Minerva Pastoral District in Guatemala City, clung to every word Ferreyra said as he addressed new believers during his final altar call. She stood in her light blue dress with her 11-year-old daughter Lucia and 32-year-old son Jose Avila, also dressed for the christening. With tears in her eyes and struggling with health issues, Avila dedicated her life to Jesus.
David García, his wife and three sons did not want to miss the opportunity to be baptized after studying the Bible in a small group in their hometown of Ciudad Quetzal, in San Juan Sacatepequez, a municipal district of Guatemala City. With a big smile on his face, Garcia was dipped into the cool waters of the small pool and then hugged his family.
After listening to the church’s Union radio station, Guillermo Noj Mendoza, 64, who lost his sight 12 years ago, said he wanted to be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He had accepted the Christian faith years ago, but after studying the Bible for six months with Baudilio Herrera, a layman, Noj Mendoza traveled from his hometown of Villa Nueva, a municipal district in southern Guatemala City , to be baptized.
Noj Mendoza said he believed in the Sabbath day rest and wanted Jesus to use it to “lead my family and others to the gospel,” he said. “I may be blind, but I see things others may not see, and I want to share the goodness of Jesus in my life.”
Like Avila, García and Noj Mendoza, hundreds have been baptized not only in the last two weeks of the evangelistic series, but since the intense evangelistic efforts began in January 2021, reported Guenther García, president of the Adventist Church in Guatemala.
“This evangelistic series has been something that has brought back the joy of mission to our members,” García said. He explained that evangelistic efforts have spurred thousands of church members to share the gospel after the pandemic restrictions of the past two years. “Evangelism has never stopped, as we have held many evangelistic meetings online because of the pandemic, but now, thanks to this, there is renewed enthusiasm and commitment to preaching,” did he declare.
Thousands of people affected in El Salvador
In El Salvador, the two-night evangelistic meetings resulted in hundreds of baptisms, said Abel Pacheco, president of the Adventist Church in El Salvador.
“We had thousands of people who wanted to watch the evening series. Some even traveled for eight hours,” he said. Each of the evenings saw more than 4,500 people on the church training school soccer field in San Juan Opico, San Salvador, El Salvador. More than 2,000 new members have joined the church in El Salvador, thanks to evangelistic efforts that began in January.
Wilfredo Shoto, a small business owner from El Paisnal in San Salvador, said he didn’t want to be so angry and impulsive anymore and felt the need to study the Bible. When he read that the Sabbath was the true day of worship, he quickly discovered that the Adventist Church worships on Saturdays. Shoto researched the nearest Adventist church and, along with his wife, Nelly, met a church member who invited them to watch the series online. “That’s where we were supposed to be baptized,” Shoto said. Both were baptized on April 5 and their daughter Alyson said she wanted to be the next to study the Bible.
José Ríos, 60, who struggled with alcoholism, was among hundreds of people baptized on April 6 in San Salvador. His life took a turn when two members of the Adventist Church invited him to study the Bible after Ríos robbed them. Rios was so moved that he committed to changing his life and made the decision to follow Jesus. He was among the hundreds on the football field.
Efforts in other countries
There is no doubt that the church is committed to advancing the mission of spreading the gospel, said Adán Ramos, president of the Adventist Church in Honduras.
“Times are not as easy for soul winning as they were before the pandemic,” he said. “However, to see a church willing to work for the Lord is very impressive.” Ramos reported that so far this year, 1,902 believers have been baptized.
In Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the series has been a huge blessing, local leaders said. During the two-day series held in those countries at the end of March, more than 950 people were baptized, reported Ricardo Marin, president of the South Central American Union. Radio and television stations streamed the series online.
“The series has encouraged and united so many of our leaders and members in prayer,” Marin said. More than 4,200 new believers have been baptized into the Adventist Church since efforts began this year, he added.
The evangelistic series also made stops in Colon and Panama City, Panama on March 28-29 and had a big impact, said José De Gracia, president of the Adventist Church in Panama. Church members were involved in the mission for months, resulting in 3,446 baptisms.
Shanedis Jaramillo, 13, and her sister Shaedis, 11, were among those baptized in March. They both decided to get baptized in their Pathfinder uniforms. Both had been studying the Bible with club leaders for weeks. When they learned that the evangelistic series was coming to their city, they felt they had to give their hearts to Jesus. They were baptized together at the Metropolitan Adventist School in Panama City.
In the Dominican Republic, where the evangelistic series took place March 25-27, crowds gathered inside and outside two Adventist churches in San Cristobal, a part of Santo Domingo. The series was broadcast on the church’s Radio Amanecer station nationwide and on its social media platforms.
Since evangelism efforts began in January, more than 4,170 people have joined the church, said Paulino Puello, president of the Adventist Church in the Dominican Republic. “Our members are so dedicated to missionary work that they have brought new strength and renewed commitment to sharing the gospel wherever they are.”
Constant in the mission
“God continues to save those who daily join the church, and we say amen to that,” said IAD President Elie Henry, thanking everyone involved in the evangelistic campaign at the closing of the series from Guatemala. “Stand firm and steadfast in the work of the Lord Jesus, knowing that your work is not in vain,” he said.
The “Don’t Give Up, There Is Still Hope” evangelism series has become the second regional evangelism series through the IAD. A third round of regional evangelism is taking place in French-speaking territories from April 3-16. A third online series for the Spanish-speaking territory of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Venezuela is also taking place this week, along with the next Mexico regional evangelistic series this summer.
Miqueas Fortunato, Gustavo Menéndez, Fabricio Rivera and Kayc James contributed to this report.
The original version of this story was published on the Inter-American Division news sites.