April 13, 2022 | Guatemala City, Guatemala | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

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, Mar. 25 through Apr. 9, 2022. Crowds gathered in large churches, auditoriums, sports fields, outdoor stadiums, and watched online as evangelism efforts concluded last weekend.

“Don’t Give Up, There is Still Hope” was the resounding message heard throughout the seven countries by the keynote speaker, Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church in Inter-America. Ferreyra reminded viewers and listeners every evening that through difficult times, God is near.

Silvia Avila from the Minerva district in Guatemala City, Guatemala, smiles as she is embraced by Pastor Carvajal of the Central Guatemala Conference after she is baptized at the close of the evangelistic series at El Progreso Adventist School, on Apr. 9, 2022. Avila represents over 21,000 new converts added to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America after a regional evangelist campaign swept through the Dominican Republic and Central America, Mar. 25 to Apr. 9, 2022. [Photo: Josue Laj/IAD]

“God has the power to help you face the ‘giants’ that come your way,” said Ferreyra. “Life does not end when you fall, it ends when you give up, so you must make a decision that even through the difficult circumstances you must choose to be happy in the name of Jesus, learn to trust Him, and commit to Him.”

The key is to cling to the hope that Jesus is coming back for us, said Ferreyra as he closed the series during his message in Guatemala City, on Apr. 9, 2022. “There is hope that Jesus is coming soon and He will sustain us through His Holy Spirit in moments of struggle, navigating through this life. We must not be passive but must let God work in our hearts and be thoroughly involved in preparing other disciples for His Second Coming.”

Ferreyra’s message touched the hearts of 200 believers who traveled from throughout Guatemala City to get baptized at El Progreso Adventist School’s Auditorium.

Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church in Inter-America, speaks during the multi-country evangelistic series “Dont’ Give Up, There is Still Hope” at the Metropolitan Adventist School in Panama City, Panama, Mar. 29, 2022. [Photo: Misael González]

New members in Guatemala

Fifty-one-year-old Silvia Avila from the Minerva pastoral district in Guatemala City clung to every word Ferreyra said as he addressed the new believers during his final altar call. She stood in her light blue robe with her 11-year-old daughter Lucia and her 32-year-old son Jose Avila, also dressed for baptism. With tears in her eyes and struggling with health issues, Avila committed her life to Jesus.

David García, his wife and three sons didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get 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 plunged into the cool waters of the small pool and afterward embraced 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 layperson, Noj Mendoza traveled from his hometown of Villa Nueva, a municipal district the southern part of Guatemala City, to get baptized.

David García (right), and his wife (left) of Ciudad Quetzal, San Juan, Sacatepequez, are prayed for before they are baptized in Guatemala City, Apr. 9, 2022. His entire family including his three sons baptized after studying the bible in a small group in their hometown.  the García family were among the 5,142 new members who joined the church thanks to intense evangelism efforts since January.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Noj Mendoza said he was convinced of the Sabbath day rest and wants Jesus to “use me to lead his family and others to the gospel,” he said. “I may be blind, but I see things that others may not see and I want to share the goodness of Jesus in my life.”

Like Avila, García and Noj Mendoza, hundreds more were baptized not only during the last two weeks of the evangelistic campaign but ever since their intense evangelism efforts began in January.  The number of baptized as of Apr. 10 total more than 5,100 in Guatemala. This is the harvest sewn by 3,000 evangelistic campaigns held in small groups, and 1,000 campaigns held in churches, reported Pastor Guenther García, president of the church in Guatemala.

García, who held a one-week public evangelistic campaign under a tent in Xecsalmaja, Totonicapan, said the dedicated work of pastors and laypersons two months before resulted in 10 new members being baptized last week. Twelve more will be getting baptized in the ocean soon, he said.

More than 600 church members from throughout Guatemala met at El Progreso Adventist School Auditorium to attend the end of evangelistic series “Don’t Give Up, There is Still Hope” Apr. 9, 2022. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Renewed enthusiasm for soul-winning

Thousands gathered for two nights where Ferreyra spoke in a soccer stadium both in Chiquimula and Jalapa, Apr. 7-8.

“This evangelistic series has been something that brought back the joy of the mission to our members.” The intense evangelistic efforts jumpstarted thousands of church members to share the gospel after the restrictions of the pandemic the past two years, said García.  “Evangelism has never stopped for we held many evangelism campaigns online because of the pandemic, but now through this there is renewed enthusiasm and commitment to the preaching of the gospel.”

Thousands reached in El Salvador

In El Salvador, the two nights of the evangelistic campaign resulted in hundreds of baptisms, said Pastor Abel Pacheco, president of the church in El Salvador.

Hundreds answer the call by Pastor Melchor Ferreyra during the evangelistic series held at the soccer field of Adventist Training School in San Juan Opico, La Libertad, San Salvador, El Salvador, Apr. 5-6, 2022.  [Photo: Fabricio Rivera]

“We had thousands of people who wanted to witness the evening series, some even traveled eight hours for the spiritual fiesta,” said Pacheco. Each of the evenings saw more than 4,500 people at the soccer field of the church’s training school in San Juan Opico, in San Salvador, El Salvador. More than 2,000 new members joined the church in El Salvador, thanks to the evangelistic efforts that began in January. The figures are more than double what was reached last year during the first quarter of 2021, Pacheco said.

Wilfredo Shoto, a small business owner from El Paisnal in San Salvador, didn’t want to be so angry and impulsive, so he felt the need to study the bible. When he read about the Sabbath as the true day of worship, he quickly found out that the Adventist Church worshiped on Saturdays. Shoto searched for the closest Adventist Church and, together with his wife Nelly, met Brother Francisco who invited them to follow the online series. “That’s where we needed to get baptized,” said Shoto. As both were baptized on Apr. 5, their daughter Alyson said she wanted to be next in studying the Bible.

More than 4,000 people gather during the evangelistic series at the soccer field of Adventist Training School in San Juan Opico, La Libertad, San Salvador, El Salvador, Apr. 5-6, 2022.[Photo: Fabricio Rivera]

Sixty-year-old Jose Ríos, who has battled alcoholism, was among the hundreds who were baptized on Apr. 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 in the soccer field. He and his son continue to study “The faith of Jesus” bible courses and are currently receiving support from the local Adventist Church.

Furthering the mission in Honduras

There’s no doubt the church is committed to furthering the mission to spreading the gospel, said Pastor Adan Ramos, president of the church in Honduras.

Believers respond to the call at the end of the evening campaign series at the Adventist Educational Center in Peña Blanca, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Apr. 3-4, 2022. [Photo: Manuel López]

“Times are not so easy to win souls like before the pandemic,” said Ramos. “However, to see a willing church preparing to work for the Lord is very impressive.” Church leaders set out to train in the evangelistic efforts, meeting with pastors and laypersons to hold hundreds of evangelistic campaigns. Ramos reported that 1,902 new believers have been baptized so far this year.

Impact in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

In Costa Rica and Nicaragua the campaign was an enormous blessing, local leaders said. In the two days of the series held in those countries at the end of March, more than 950 persons were baptized, said Pastor Ricardo Marin, president of the South Central American Union. Radio and television channels transmitted the online series.

Cecilia Chávez of Costa Rica, smiles big on camera after she was baptized with two others during the evangelistic series held at the Central American Adventist University in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Mar. 30, 2022. Chávez is among the 1,497 who joined the church in Costa Rica since the start of the year. [Photo: IAD Screenshot]

Cecilia Chávez couldn’t contain her tears as she was baptized on Mar. 30, after the evening message at Central American Adventist University in Alajuela, Costa Rica.  She had studied the bible many years ago, but while getting physical therapy to recover from injuries sustained in an auto accident, she met Ermita who invited her to study the bible.  “We became friends and as we studied the bible, I began to feel like God was filling my life,” said Chávez, “When [Ermita] invited me to the ‘Don’t Give Up, There is Still Hope’ series I decided to make the decision to follow Jesus. I feel new, strong, joyous and secure with God.”

“The series encouraged and unified so many of our leaders and members in prayer,” said Marin. More than 4,200 new believers were baptized into the Adventist Church since efforts began this year, he added.

Pastor pray for two of hundreds baptized at the Santa Clara Touristic Center in Juigalpa, Chontales, Nicaragua, on Apr. 1, 2022. More than 2,000 people joined the Adventist Church in Nicaragua since the beginning of the year. [Photo: South Central American Union]

Reaching thousands in Panama

The evangelistic campaign traveling through the city of Colon and Panama City on Mar 28-29, had a great impact throughout the membership across Panama, said Pastor Jose De Gracia, president of the church in Panama.  As a result of the collaborative efforts of leaders and laypersons more than 1,000 campaigns were held in small groups and 120 evangelistic campaigns were held in churches since the year began.  That total involvement in spreading the gospel resulted in 3,446 baptisms.

Shanedis Jaramillo, 13, and her sister Shaedis, 11, were among those who were baptized on Mar. 29.  They both decided to get baptized in their pathfinder uniforms after they became members of the club last year at Llano Bonito Adventist Church in Panama City. Both had been studying the bible with club leaders for weeks. When they heard the evangelistic campaign was coming to their city, they felt like giving their hearts to Jesus. They were baptized together at Metropolitan Adventist School in Panama City.

Dressed in their Pathfinder Club uniforms, sisters Shaedis (second left) and Shanedis Jaramillo (right), stand before they are baptized during the evening serie held at the Metropolitan Adventist School in Panama City, Panama, Mar. 29, 2022. [Photo: Kayc James]

“It’s wonderful to see that the evangelistic experience through this campaign and the collaboration among the different countries showed us that the church continues to have a main objective to preach the gospel,” said De Gracia.

United efforts in the Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, where the evangelistic series began on Mar. 25-27, crowds gathered inside and outside two Adventist Churches in San Cristobal, part of Santo Domingo. The series was carried on the church’s Radio Amanecer station across the entire country and its social media platforms.

The Thrio group sings during the evening online series from the San Cristobal Central Adventist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mar. 25-27, 2022. [Photo: Bernardo Medina]

Since the evangelism efforts began in January, more than 4,170 persons have joined the church, reported Pastor Paulino Puello, president of the church in the Dominican Republic. “All of our conferences, churches, pastors, small groups, bible instructors, missionary couples, and leaders at all levels of the church took part in preparing the believers at the start of the year,” said Puello.  “Our members are so dedicated to the missionary work that they have brought new strength, new renewed commitment in sharing the gospel wherever they are.”

Keeping constant in mission

“God continues to save those who each day are joining the church and we say Amen to that,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the Church in Inter-America, as he thanked pastors, church elders, laypersons, smalls group leaders, bible workers and everyone who has been committing to spreading the gospel leading up to the regional evangelistic campaign.  “This is a great accomplishment, what you are doing to mark the centennial celebrations this year since the Inter-American Division was officially organized in 1922.”

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry thanks the committed pastors, laypersons, bible instructors, young people and all members throughout the territory during the online evangelistic series conclusion in Guatemala City, for their passion in sharing the message of hope in their cities and communities. Pastor Henry pointed to the extraordinary success of the regional evangelistic series during a year where the Division celebrates its 100th anniversary since it was officially organized in 1922. [Photo: Josue Laj]

Henry said when the church was organized in 1922 there were 8,000 members. Today, one hundred years later, there are 3.7 million.

“Keep firm and constant in the work of the Lord Jesus knowing that your work is not in vain,” Pastor Henry said as he reflected on 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Jesus is coming soon so we must continue to walk with Jesus each day and say ‘Don’t give up, There is Still Hope’”.

The “Don’t Give Up, There is Still Hope” evangelistic series became the second regional evangelistic campaign throughout Inter-America. The series was carried online through Hope Channel Inter-America’s YouTube and Facebook accounts as well as local church-run radio and  television stations, and various other social media platforms. To watch the evangelistic series, click HERE

Two young people are prayed for before they are baptized at the San Cristobal Central Adventist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mar. 26. 2022. [Photo: Bernardo Medina]

A third regional evangelistic campaign is going on in the French territory of the Inter-American Division from Apr. 3 through Apr. 16. A third online series for the Spanish-speaking territory in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Venezuela will take place next week, as well as Mexico’s upcoming evangelistic regional series this summer.

For more information on Inter-American Division’s regional evangelistic series, visit us at interamerica.org.

Miqueas Fortunato, Gustavo Menéndez, Fabricio Rivera and Kayc James contributed to this report.

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