January 12, 2022 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

“All of our church’s organizational structure, our institutions, plans and efforts should be focused on preparing the world for Christ’s Second Coming,” said Dr. Angel Gúzman, vice president of academic affairs for the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, based in Puerto Rico.  The appeal came as top Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Inter-America gathered recently to review its territory-wide I Will Go mission initiatives set in motion for the new year and the years ahead.

Dozens of administrators and department heads met Jan. 5-6, 2022, to pray, review plans and solidify initiatives and activities that will mobilize the church membership to greater involvement in spreading the gospel throughout the territory.

Dr. Angel Gúzman, vice president for academic affairs for the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, speaks to top IAD administrators and department leaders during a special two-day leadership meetings in Florida, United States, Jan. 5-6, 2022. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

As guest speaker, Dr. Guzmán reminded church leaders to carefully study the church’s role in proclaiming the Three Angels Message of Rev. 14 as they continue to motivate and engage members throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory.

The church preparing the way

“The church is not the way, but the church prepares the way to Jesus and that motivation should get to our members,” he said. It’s not about enjoying wonderful programs so church members can enjoy sitting as spectators, but “the church must be very aware of its role.”

That role is about fulfilling the special work of proclaiming the message of salvation as entrusted messengers of God, said Dr. Guzmán. “There are many people in the church who are empty because we don’t involve them in understanding the prophetic role that we have as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Inter-American Division Administrators Pastor Elie Henry, president (2nd left) prays next to his wife Ketlie (left) and Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary (3rd left), and wife Denise, on Jan. 5, 2022, at the start of two day leadership meetings with department heads. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Drawing from John the Baptist’s vision and role in the Mark chapter 1, Guzmán reminded leaders that, just like John was aware of his prophetic gift, he was not focused on himself but on pointing people to Jesus. So it must be the same with the Adventist church, Guzmán said.   “We exist to create a revival and reformation, so we can be the messengers God has called us to be during these end times.”  The church is not an enterprise, nor an institution, but a remnant of God with a special message, a prophetic movement that God has raised, he emphasized.

Guzmán reminded leaders that the work of God should not be ostentatious, but should focus more on the content of the message, more so than on the instruments used to proclaim it

Not losing sight of its prophetic role

“The danger in concentrating so much in the structure of our ministry is that at the end we may lose sight of the essence of the message and our prophetic role,” said Guzmán. He stressed the message of the Three Angels, representing the final stages of earth’s history and the church’s identity just as Adventist pioneers were certain of, must be key in being effective in fulfilling the mission.

Pastor Filiberto Verduzco, IAD treasurer, details plans to finance the mission of the church through the next 10 years. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“Every church organization, institution, and each ministry should be focused on its role of proclaiming the ‘final message’, if not, there is no reason for its existence,” Guzmán said.

Church leaders delved into deeper study of the Three Angels’ Messages, reviewed, studied, and prayed for the dozens of initiatives voted under the I Will Go Mission plans focused on evangelism, education, and community service for the next four years.

“We must continue to consecrate our lives in His service, moving forward with confidence as God’s messengers to proclaim this precious message throughout the territory,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America.  To accomplish this, he said, it’s important to ‘be together and move together’ understanding each initiative, how departments and ministries are interconnected to engage members down to the local congregation.

Faye Patterson, IAD education director, shares some of the initiatives in places taking place across the Adventist universities and schools across the territory. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Leaders also went over specific activities taking place throughout the territory as the IAD continues celebrating 100 years of growth since it was officially organized in May of 1922.

Continuing with passion for the mission

“We must continue to have that passion for this [Adventist] movement just like the countless pastors and laypeople had early on here in Inter-America years and years ago,” said Pastor Henry. “Do we still have that passion? All the issues around us now, we must be sensitive as leaders, advancing toward the future, giving members and the community hope amid the uncertainties of today.”

Administrators also reviewed membership growth status and the need to double their efforts in spiritually nurturing and retaining church members. Leaders also looked into the financial status of the past 20 years and put plans in place to continue financing the mission of the church during the next 10 years.

Pastor Isaias Espinoza (left) IAD publishing ministries director and wife Edith Ruiz Espinoza, IAD women’s ministries and children and adolescent ministries director, listen in during the leadership meetings, Jan. 5, 2022. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

IAD leaders also discussed the challenge of getting children, young people, and adults, back in the life of the church as the pandemic continues to keep churches closed and running mostly with online services.

Reviewing major initiatives and activities

A few of the major initiatives reviewed included the initiative to reclaim more than 80,000 former church members, organizing 100,000 bible studies through small groups ministries, the distribution of 6.7 million missionary books in April, thousands of community impact events across Adventist universities and schools, the training of hundreds of church members for mission, and preparing major territory-wide evangelism campaigns in the summer, as well as on-going evaluations of such initiatives and plans.

“Nothing is more important than continuing the mission God has given us and we pray God can grant His church extraordinary success in 2022,” Pastor Henry concluded.

David Poloche, ADRA, Trust Services and Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) Inter-America director, speaks on community service initiatives on during leadership meetings, Jan. 6, 2022.[Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

To learn more about Inter-America’s activities throughout the year, centennial celebrations and resources, visit 100.interamerica.org


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