A new believer smiles as she is hugged by a Seventh-day Adventist pastor who baptized her during the “All the Family in Mission” celebration held in San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, Apr. 20, 2024. Nearly 100 persons were baptized on the grounds of the Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras, adding to more than 1,000 baptized the previous week in the Northwest Honduras Conference. [Photo: LIbna Stevens/IAD]

Hundreds joined the Adventist Church in Honduras during the first of three territory-wide baptismal events this year.

April 26, 2024 | San Pedro Sula, Honduras | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) celebrated the culmination of intense evangelistic efforts during a livestreamed program hosted from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Apr. 20, 2024.

More than 2,000 church members and new believers crowded Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras’ Auditorium in San Pedro Sula, to worship, fellowship, and witness dozens of baptisms onsite and abroad as part of “All the Family in Mission” banner initiative.

More than 2,000 Seventh-day Adventists attended the “All the Family in Mission” event on Apr. 20, 2024. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Involving every member

“All the Family in Mission” seeks to involve every church member in personal and public evangelism outreach mission initiatives in preparation of Jesus’s soon coming.

“We are delighted that you have chosen this region to host what we have coined as ‘Embrace the only Hope’ series here in Honduras,” said Pastor Adan Ramos, president of the Honduras Union. He thanked IAD leaders and union leaders in attendance. “We are delighted to learn how the gospel has been spread throughout seven other unions and share how we have motivated others get involved in the mission here in our country,” he added.

Pastor Adan Ramon, presidente of the Honduras Union reports on the evangelism efforts up to April throughout the country.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Dozens were baptized during the live event, totaling 1,315 baptisms to close the one-week reaping campaigns held in 180 congregations in the Northwest Honduras Conference, reported Ramos.  That brings the number to nearly 3,000 new members across Honduras, he said.

The live event highlighted the work of active church members and leaders in spreading the gospel in their communities, not only across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the northwest region in Honduras, but also throughout Central America, Venezuela and parts of Colombia, church leaders said.

Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry challenges congregants to continue being part of fulfilling the mission. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Sharing a life with hope

Pastor Elie Henry, president of the IAD, during his spiritual message on Sabbath morning, encouraged leaders, members, and soon-to-be baptized believers to open their eyes wide to see the mission that God has for them. “God has a plan for each one of you,” said Henry. “He loves us and knew us before we came to be. It’s all about the grand vision that God has for us, that God wants to redeem us and wants to lead us to have a global vision for His purpose, he said.

Pastor Henry challenged congregants to take time to study the Bible, pray daily, yearn to know Jesus and His will, and testify of His goodness wherever they go.

Church members raise their hands as they accept the baptismal votes of dozens of new believers who were going to get baptized on on the ground floor. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“We must preach, love one another and live a life with the hope,” said Pastor Henry. “God wants us to see what He has for us as He strengthens us to move forward and tell others of His love.” No matter your financial struggles or any challenges, he said, “God has a much bigger vision for you, something extraordinary, much farther than your problems.,”

Newly baptized members

Marleny Matute, 40, took Pastor Henry’s message to heart. As a single mother she has struggled to make ends meet working at a school cafeteria. Matute has occasionally visited the Adventist Church in Cerro Verde where her 15-year-old daughter had been part of the Pathfinder Club and was baptized several years ago.

Pastor Jaime Hernández (left) of the Cerro Verde Adventist Church in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, prays for Marleny Matute before she is baptized on Apr. 20, 2024. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“For ten years church members would visit my home, but I had not made the decision to choose the right path,” she said. It wasn’t until the pressure mounted in the family that she decided to receive bible studies and give her heart to Jesus. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she stood in the water among the dozens who were baptized during the live program. “I feel peace in my heart now and a wonderful change in my life,” said Matute after her baptism. “Leaving my burdens to God will help me face my problems, move forward and not feel hopeless.”

Twenty-three-year-old Maryori Bueso was also baptized onsite during the program. She said she will not turn back on her decision to follow Jesus. She began Bible studies in November after a friend invited her. After her bible studies she told her partner and father of their four-year-old son that she wanted to do things right before God. “I wanted to get married but he did not,” she said. So Bueso decided to be baptized.

Maryori Bueso, 22, stands next to Walter Cigüenza, district pastor in San Pedro Sula, who baptized her minutes before on Apr. 2o. 2024. Bueso is one of 51 persons who were by Cigüenza at the end of the one-week evangelistic campaign on Apr. 19 throughout the Northwest Honduras Conference. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“No one in my family is Adventist but I feel so good and at peace for choosing to be right with God,” said Bueso. “Taking a firm stand for God and His principles fills me with joy and strength,” she said. Bueso has been attending the Monte Maria Adventist Church and recently joined members in distributing The Great Controversy throughout the community. “Jesus is coming soon and we need to be committed to Him and tell others of the gospel,” Bueso said.

Enrique Pérez had grown up in the streets and when he heard about Jesus at age 17, he decided to get baptized and join the church. Pérez later left the church and became a successful entrepreneur. During one of his business trips, he turned on the television in his hotel room and happened to see a sermon given by Adventist Evangelist Alejandro Bullón. According to Perez, during the sermon, Bullon said: “I don’t know where you are, if at home or in some dark hotel room trying to be happy, but that will not make you happy, only Jesus can make you happy.”

Children from El Retiro Adventist Church sing special music during the program at the Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras Auditorium, on Apr. 21, 2024. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Touched by the words, Pérez found the bible in his hotel room and read the promise in John 3:16. “I cried so hard and at that moment I felt God’s embrace,” said Pérez. He looked for the former Adventist Church in San Pedro Sula and found himself attending the evangelistic campaigns that were going on at Central Adventist Church.

Reaching out to former members

Pérez is one of 38 former Seventh-day Adventists who have returned to church.  Reaching out to former members was part of three evangelism initiatives that were launched throughout the Northwest Honduras Conference in November, said Pastor Daniel Durón, executive secretary.  “We challenged our active members, spread out in our 144 churches and 68 small groups, to fast and pray for 15 days and reach out to at least one person in their circle for bible studies, said Durón.

Daniel Duró, executive secretary of the Northwest Honduras Conference addresses church members on discipleship during Sabbath School segment. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

A third initiative saw leaders and active members double efforts in discipling seasoned member and conserving new members and assisting new believers in the process of getting their marriage licenses completed before baptism. “Marriage licenses tend to be too high for many to afford, so many couples choose not to, but we have realized this is a way to help before they are baptized,” explained Durón.

Six months of evangelistic preparation

The arduous work of preparation for evangelistic series for six months led to a significant increase in membership, said Durón. Just this year, the conference has reached 500 more new members than the total of 800 baptisms reached in 2023. “We praise God that pastors, small group leaders, and active members took on the challenge of bringing at least one person to the feet of Jesus,” Durón said. Besides conservation of new members now, Durón said engaging more of the membership in the mission of the church will be an added initiative in the months ahead.

Pastor Balvin Braham, vice president of the Inter-American Division, encourages the believers who have not made the decision for Christ to move forward to the front of the stage. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Pastor Balvin Braham, vice president of the IAD, urged the membership to intensify their efforts in discipling members to grow in Christ and in preparation of the Second Coming of Jesus. “We must put initiatives in place to engage members to serve in their communities, and equip them to share their faith,” said Braham.

Local church leaders thanked IAD leaders for leading out in evangelistic campaigns this month and especially for the support of Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director of the IAD for evangelistic campaigns. He led at San Pedro Sula’s Central Adventist Church and the school of evangelism sessions he held onsite with pastors and active church members throughout the past six-months in San Pedro Sula.

Pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director of the Inter-American Division explains the important steps in organizing evangelistic efforts including preparing the field, planting, growing the seed, cultivating and conserving new believers. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Everyone involved in mission

It’s all about ensuring that everyone is involved in mission, said Ferreyra. “We must focus on taking time to plan evangelism impact by preparing as a church body, investing in planting the seed of the gospel, growing that seed, cultivating and conserving the new believers in an ongoing cycle in church,” he said.

Highlights of the program included the community impact led by Dr. Carlos Bocanegra and his group of medical doctors and staff who provided free healthcare services to more than 850 persons from needy communities in San Pedro Sula. Dr. Bocanegra’s medical team from his Asociación Médica Adventist organization in Perú included a urologist, gynecologist, medical practitioners, psychologists, physical therapist, pharmacologist, and nurses.

Dr. Carlos Bocanegra (front center) stands with his team of medical doctors and staff who are part of Asociación Médica Adventist organization from Peru. The medical group provided healthcare services to more than 850 persons from needy communities in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

In addition, the program showcased the different activities aligned with the “All the Family in Mission” initiative that has made a difference in the Northwest Honduras Conference.

Growing the church

“The event here in Honduras was intended to present the model of what a church that is growing and serving looks like,” said Braham. The importance for these efforts to be successful is to ensure that the church is in-reaching to grow in Christ and reaching out horizontally, connecting people to Christ while addressing their social, economic, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.”

A group of individuals stands at the front of the stage to sign up for bible studies.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Nearly 53,000 new members joined the church in the IAD since the start of the year, reported Braham at the end of the program.

Union leaders grouped in this first “All the Family in Mission” celebration event reported that there were 2,871 baptisms reached in Honduras; 2,800 baptisms reached in Guatemala, 3,080 baptism in Costa Rica and Nicaragua; 2,000 in South Colombia; 1,010 in West Venezuela, and 3,791 baptisms reached in East Venezuela.

Additional “All the Family in Mission” territory-wide events planned this year include one in Guadeloupe in the French Antilles Guiana Union on June 29, 2024, and in the Jamaica Union on September 28, 2024.

To view the event online, click HERE

To access the photo gallery of the event, click HERE

Melchor Ferreyra contributed information to this article.

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