May 19, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
Adventist volunteers who are serving throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) and around the world were celebrated during a special online program on May 13, 2023. The annual program, organized by the Office of Volunteer Service (AVS) in the IAD, highlighted the selfless service and commitment of dozens of church members serving abroad during what has been coined as Adventist Volunteer Service Day. The two-hour program featured encouraging messages from leaders, testimonies from former and current volunteers, as well as available service opportunities and resources.
“We want to take the opportunity to say how important it is for us to answer the call to go in mission,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the IAD. He thanked volunteers for their dedication and service and reminded church members to seek out ways for mission.
“God is giving us a special opportunity to be intentional about what we do in being a witness of Jesus everywhere, whether at home, at work or wherever He places us to go beyond our commodities to go further out for God,” said Pastor Henry. Being part of fulfilling the mission means going beyond our borders and being witnesses for Jesus, even in places where it is not easy, he added.Serving in the mission
It’s all about the mission, said Pastor Leonard Johnson, executive secretary of the IAD overseeing the Office of Adventist Volunteers in the territory. “Our church exists for mission and it’s important to continue to focus on ways and means to advance the gospel,” said Johnson.
There are currently 15 volunteers from the IAD serving throughout other world divisions, reported Johnson. And recently, 397 volunteers served during the IAD territory-wide Pathfinder Camporee held in Jamaica last month.
Themed “Dare to Dream”, the event highlighted the need to revitalize the work of missions schools in preparing members to serve as long-term missionaries, volunteers, the new VIVIDFaith platform that will be the platform from AVS and all other mission programs, said Janelle Scantlebury, AVS coordinator for the IAD. The online event was a form of mission refocus launch to also attract all levels of the church, not just young people for volunteer opportunities, she explained.Pastor Elbert Kuhn, associate secretary of the General Conference, encouraged volunteers and those thinking of volunteering to enrich their connection to God by prayer and seeking guidance over their lives. “Let God impress your mind so that the talents that He has given you help you do great things for God, as you serve, love and bringing others close to God,” said Kuhn.
Kuhn reminded viewers to revisit the church’s history of doing missions at the movement’s birthplace in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the United States, and challenged them to dedicate their lives to service to accomplish God’s dream for the world.
Putting service in God’s hands
Dr. Delbert Baker, director of research and development for the regional conference retirement plan/ at Charles Dudley Ministry Center in Huntsville, Alabama, United States, and wife Susan Baker shared their experience as missionaries in Kenya in recent years and encouraged volunteers to put their service in God’s hands to experience great opportunities and challenges from which to grow. “It’s a wonderful thing to be where you need to be,” said Dr. Baker as he referenced the experience of Ruth when she left Moab to go to Bethlehem where God wanted her to be. “Listen to God’s voice and respond to Him. You are where God wants you to be,” he said.Baker challenged volunteers to search their hearts and find what God really wants them to do. “God will move you from where you are to where you will be, and you will have the joy of knowing where God wants you to be. No matter how young or old you are, listen for that voice, look for that need and connect to that need and be used by God,” he said.
Opportunities offered during the online program included resources such as online courses and books for AVS students, shared Amy Whitsett, associate director of the Institute of World Missions.
Volunteer opportunities can be searched by visiting the VIVIDFaith platform online. The platform is free for all organizations to use and church members can use when they register as a VIVIDFriend—someone interested in serving in the mission field, explained Fylvia Kline, manager of VIVIDFaith. “Users of the platform can create a profile, search database, favor the ones they like, apply for an assignment, track their progress, and more,” said Kline.Viewers were also briefed about volunteer training with the US non-profit organization called MOVE or Missionary Outreach Volunteer Evangelism which Jeff Sutton operates in Belize. “Being a missionary is not a place but a lifestyle about sharing Christ,” said Sutton. It’s about learning to share Christ in everything that you do. His MOVE program helps young people connect with others through several training programs that leads to connect them to volunteer opportunities around the world.
Testimonies from volunteers
Henry González is from Panama and has been serving in Brazil for the past three months. He has been volunteering for the church’s Nuevo Tiempo television channel doing a little bit of everything. “I have been volunteering in the church since I was 10 years old and at 15, I became a volunteer in my conference working with the church’s radio station,” said González. “It has been a fabulous experience here,” he said. González has a degree in cinematography and has been enjoying working in television. The volunteer experience has brought him closer to Jesus, he said. “You get to learn what things you need to improve to serve God better and depend on Him when challenges come your way.” He has learned to make healthy choices, make new friends, and learn to share the message more effectively. “I have felt transformed by this experience already and am enjoying serving the church here.”Gabriela Gómez is from Tijuana, Mexico, has been serving in Chile as a journalist in Nuevo Tiempo. “I do a little bit of everything, speak and act in television programs, as a radio broadcaster and producer as well as serving and preaching at the Adventist University in Chile,” said Gómez. She has had to deal with many challenges adjusting to the food because of her Asperger’s syndrome and has learned to cook her own food and eat in the best way possible for her medical condition. “I am here to serve regardless,” she said.
“When God puts His mission in you, don’t delay it. If He plants that desire to go be a missionary, go,” said Gómez. “This is why I risked my very own life, because God gives that desire so strong and makes a way for you to serve Him effectively.”
Widens Pierre from Haiti has been serving in Indonesia as an English tutor for the past three years. He has learned many lessons along the way and is thankful for the opportunity to serve as a volunteer.
“The moment you start to serve as a missionary is when you see the beauty of the mission,” said Pierre. Pierre said he was able to complete his degree and study further when he was not teaching. “When you’re in the field, you will see other mission opportunities because God always sets up other missions for you.”
The AVS program also had a special segment to recognize volunteers currently serving and who served during the IAD Pathfinder Camporee in Jamaica.
To watch Inter-America’s Adventist Volunteer Service Day on May 13, 2023, see as follows:
For English, click HERE
For Spanish, click HERE
For French, click HERE