Faye Patterson (left) associate education director, Pastor Melchor Ferreyra (center) personal ministries director, and Dinorah Rivera, children’s and adolescent ministries director for the IAD discuss ways in which schools and local churches will reinforce character building traits during the special Year of the Child and Adolescent launch  held on Dec. 9, 2017, in Miami, Florida. Image by Keila Trejo/IAD

December 12, 2017 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America invited church leaders, teachers, department heads, church members and youngsters to get involved in what the church is calling the Year of the Child and Adolescent, set to begin next month. The invitation came as the top leadership launched an overview of its comprehensive initiative during an online program on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

Two girls look pins and patches of a “Talking Backpack”. Image by Keila Trejo/IAD

Inter-America’s Year of the Child and Adolescent initiative will seek to reinforce Christian values and encourage youngsters to study, live and share the message of the gospel with their friends and neighbors.

“During the entire year we will look for ways to learn how God has a plan for each one of us, and share His love and kindness so we can evangelize the world,” said Dinorah Rivera, children’s and adolescent ministries director for the church in Inter-America.

“This is not a program to keep the children entertained, while parents are involved in the church,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America.

“The initiative is for children and adolescents to be part of spreading the gospel not as we do so [as adults] but in their circles, their culture, in modern methods through this ‘Talking Backpack’”.

IAD President Pastor Israel Leito. Image by Keila Trejo/IAD

The “Talking Backback” is at the heart of the 12-month initiative where patches and pins earned will be displayed on children’s and adolescent’s backpacks as they study and learn character building traits such as truthfulness, courtesy, respect, gratefulness, forgiveness, punctuality, service, responsibility, obedience, integrity, optimism and kindness through various activities at local churches as well as Adventist schools throughout the territory.

Adventist World Church President Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson congratulated the IAD for its initiative to involve children in sharing the gospel through a video message he prepared from his travels in Myanmar. “What a fascinating way to involve so many young people and children through the ‘Talking Backpack’ to help children witness,” said Pastor Wilson.

Dinorah Rivera, children’s and adolescent Ministries director for the church in Inter-America. Image by Keila Trejo/IAD

Linda Koh, children’s ministries director for the Adventist world church, applauded the efforts for the initiative which will involve thousands of children and adolescents across the IAD.

It’s about preparing children to uphold values and principles that a Christian should have, said Rivera. “We want to create more awareness as to the importance of involving children in all facets of the church for mission,” she added. “To get more children involved, we need to help them strive to possess a character like Jesus, learn to have a spirit of service and mission and become part of the church’s commission to reach others for the kingdom of God,” explained Rivera.

The initiative falls under the IAD’s “Lord Transform Me” initiative which includes connecting and sharing the hope of salvation across communities as well as help focus on getting every member involved in the mission of the church, said Rivera.

Aside from a manual, a box of values, patches, pins, backpacks, a new mobile application called VE.app will provide activities, verses, messages, and games that will reinforce the monthly character trait emphasized by leaders and teachers every week and month of the year.

Chldren and teachers in Venezuela watch the live streaming of the launch. Image from Facebook

There were 500 connection sites watching the live online program.

In Panama, more than 1,300 children, adolescents and leaders tuned into the program from the church’s Maranatha Auditorium. Thousands more children and leaders gathered at local churches, schools and auditoriums to witness the launch of the initiative starting in a few weeks.

The program included panel discussion, available new resources, success reports from pilot segments of the initiative in Inter-America and more.

To learn more about Inter-America’s Year of the Child and Adolescent, visit their Facebook Page HERE.

To view the online program, go to the following:

English: HERE

Spanish: HERE

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