New believers, seasoned members and church leaders sing and praise together during a special celebration program on Apr. 13, 2024, to mark the end of the weeks long evangelistic efforts in St. Croix that resulted in a historic 105 baptisms on the island thanks to the dedicated work of pastors, bible workers and guest evangelists spearheaded by the General Conference’s Treasury department.  [Photo: Curtis Henry]

One hundred and five baptisms took place across the island after two-week campaigns efforts.

April 23, 2024 | Frederiksted, St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Seventh-day Adventists in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, celebrated the culmination of the “Impact 24 Your Journey to Joy” island-wide evangelistic efforts with a praise and worship program that highlighted the more than 100 baptisms reached from March 30 to April 13, 2024. Hundreds crowded the Central Adventist Church in Frederiksted to sing, pray and fellowship during the special ceremony on Apr. 13.

Pastor Ramone Griffith who preached at Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church during the two-week evangelistic series sings with the  the praise team of the Central Adventist Church on apr. 13, 2024.  [Photo: Curtis Henry]

The two-week evangelistic series featured guest evangelists and music ministry leaders from the United States who every evening sang and preached at four church locations, which represent the four main districts on the island.

“Many months ago, the idea was born in the heart of the General Conference Treasury—an idea that they thought it, we bought it and God brought it,” said Pastor Desmond James, president of the North Caribbean Conference. The conference office is stationed in St. Croix and oversees nine other Caribbean islands. “What a phenomenal thing God has brought. We can celebrate God’s amazing goodness,” he said. Leaders reported on the 105 baptisms that swept across the island during the recent two weeks, a record number in such a short period of time.

Worshipers enjoy the praise and worship service during the special program to end the two-week evangelistic series in St. Croix. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

“When we look at the 105 trophies of God’s amazing grace, what else can we ask for?” said James. He thanked Pastor Paul Douglas, treasurer of the General Conference, and his team for giving “this little island” the opportunity to partnership in mission.

Organized by the General Conference treasury leaders in coordination with the Inter-American Division, the Caribbean Union, North Caribbean Conference and Loma Linda University Health team of doctors and nurses, the comprehensive efforts had the intention of supporting the spreading of the gospel and providing service to the community.

Four guest evangelists from the North American Division who preached during the series in St. Croix, Mar. 30 to Apr. 13, 2024. [Image: North Caribbean Conference]

The evening series filled the Central, Bethel, Peter’s Rest, and the Sunny Acres Adventist Churches with hundreds of members and visitors every night. It was historic to see 340 guests visiting every night across the four sites, something that has never occurred in the history of the conference, said James. The evangelism efforts were accomplished thanks to the vision of church leaders and the arduous ministry of pastors, more than a dozen bible instructors and active church members on the island and abroad who dedicated their talents and energies to the evangelism efforts, he said.

Renewed vigor and determination

“Our success does not rest on the shoulders of one individual, but you know it was an eloquent testimony of what God’s people can do and can become when we all unite together as one,” said James. “Each of us brought our own individual talents and personalities and perspectives and energies to the table creating a harmonious symphony driven by purpose and passion.”

North Caribbean Conference President Pastor Desmond James speaks during the closing program on the impact the evangelistic efforts in St. Croix.  [Photo: Curtis Henry]

Pastor James challenged local leaders to take the watershed experience and develop a new paradigm in evangelism throughout the conference territory. He encouraged leaders and members to carry the spirit of Impact 24 with renewed vigor and determination. “Let us with our lips and lifestyle spread the joy, the love and kindness in everything we do and with all whom we meet.”

James thanked the General Conference team of 34 and the LLU’s team of 19 doctors, nurses and staff who cleaned, painted, ministered to young people, and provided medical services to hundreds during the last week of the evangelistic impact activities.

Pastor Vincent David (right) pastor of the Bethel Adventist Church thanks Evangelist James Dogette Jr.(left)  and several bible workers for their dedication in the evangelism efforts. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

More than a dozen local pastors and 16 bible instructors were part of the arduous work of knocking on doors, offering prayers, and bible studies as well as inviting for evening series.

Dozens were baptized at different beach locations as the series ended.

A wedding ceremony and a baptism

Navence James, who married Abigail Joseph during a short wedding ceremony on Sabbath morning service at Peter’s Rest Adventist Church, said it was the best day of his life to do things right and follow Jesus again. Navence and Abigail were baptized soon after church service, along six other believers at Lagoon Beach near the church.

Navence and Abigail James smile and celebrate their union during a short ceremony during the morning service  at the Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church on Apr. 13, 2024, after Pastor Earl Esdaile (back left), pastor of the church, Pastor Ramone Griffith (center). series evangelist, and Pastor Wilmoth James (right), executive secretary of the North Caribbean Conference led the wedding ceremony. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

“First I want to say ‘the devil is a liar,” said Navence. “I’ve been going through a lot in my life and I’ve gone very far and come very close to death many times but God knows that I am His child.” He shared that he used to go to church a long time ago. “You know the devil pull you and give you doubts…but something told me to come back, and God brought me back home,” said Navence. “I am here tonight to give Him the glory, honor and the praise for bringing me here tonight and sealing the deal with Him.”

Thanks to the work of his aunt Rose Joseph, who is head deaconess at the Christiansted Adventist Church, and Earl Esdaile, pastor of the Peter’s Rest and Christiansted Adventist Church district, Navence and his wife received bible studies, attended the evening series, and made the decision to get baptized. Both shared in their moment with their young daughter and son.

Newlyweds Abigail and Navence emerge from the water after being baptized together at Lagoon Beach shortly after their wedding ceremony at Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church on Apr. 13, 2024. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

Focused on Jesus

“You were the prodigal son but now you are back to Jesus,” affirmed Pastor Esdaile. “What are you determined to do?” asked Esdaile. “My determination is to serve the Lord,” said Navence, as amens and applause filled the church.

Candice O’Reily, who was baptized on Apr. 6, spoke during the program, and praised God for the six-month journey of studying the bible with Maurie Andrews, a retired pastor that led her and her fiancé Richard Matthews to make the decision for baptism. “Sometimes I wanted to give up, but I prayed to God to keep me focused,” said O’Reily.

For Navence James, Candice O’Reily and the dozens of new believers, Pastor Paul Douglas, treasurer of the General Conference, had a spiritual message as he reflected on John 16:33.

General Conference Treasurer Pastor Paul Douglas delivers a keynote speech during the close of the evangelistic series at the Central Adventist Church in St. Croix, on Apr. 13, 2024.  [Photo: Curtis Henry]

Pastor Douglas encouraged new believers to keep relying on God amid their daily struggles and challenges as they embark on a new journey of joy for the Second Coming of Jesus.

“In this world, you will have trouble…great tribulation, but be of good courage,” quoted Douglas as he referenced John 16:33. “But [Jesus says] I have overcome the world.”

In life, Douglas said, “sometimes you just need someone to get something done that you cannot do for yourself. Sometimes you need someone who does something before you know it needs to be done. Sometimes you need someone that when they win you win,” he added. “I want to declare tonight that Jesus is that someone. That someone [Jesus] who went through great tribulation, yet he did not complain, someone crucified but withstood the shame for our salvation.”

Tiana Ford, 16, smiles and looks at her mother after she was baptized by Pastor Thomas Rose, pastor of the Central Adventist Church, during the closing evangelistic series celebration on Apr. 13, 2024. .[Photo: Curtis Henry]

Douglas praised God for leaders, members and guest evangelists who were engaged in the proclamation of God’s word during the Journey to Joy evangelism series, the chains that have been broken, the victories that have been won and for those accepted the free gift of salvation and have joined the journey left to thread still.

The ultimate joy of the Second Coming

“As we continue together on this journey to this ultimate joy of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, count on your connection with Jesus to resist temptation, to rejoice in tribulation and to receive your trophy,” Douglas said Douglas.

Josue Pierre (left), associate treasurer of the General Conference and Sanida McKenzie (right) treasurer of the North Caribbean Conference speak the year-long plans to hold the evangelistic series and thanked all those involved in making it a success in St. Croix.[Photo: Curtis Henry]

“The Holy Spirit made it clear that we were supposed to come to St. Croix,” said Josue Pierre, associate treasurer who with a small committee of treasury staff spent more than a year planning for the evangelistic and community impact in St. Croix.

Pierre credited Douglas for the idea of a mission trip after a strategic session held in Maryland, United States, after General Conference’s annual council of 2022.  “This has been a labor of love and it’s been some of the busiest people who just allowed the Holy Spirit to direct us on where we should go,” said Pierre.

Young people take part in a special drama performance during the Apr. 13 program. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

The program included a baptism, musical praise and worship segments, a drama performance by the youth, reports from each church district that held the series, and a show of appreciation for guest evangelists and bible workers during the evangelistic efforts.

United collaborative efforts

Pierre thanked the church organizations that contributed funds to make the evangelism and community impact possible, including GC administration offices, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International, Adventist Risk Management, Adventist World Radio, Hope Channel International, the Inter-American Division, the Caribbean Union, and the Atlantic Union Conference. In addition, Pierre thanked the guest evangelists who travelled from the North American Division, and the team of 19 doctors, nurses, and staff from Loma Linda University Health who provided healthcare to more than 500 persons on the island.

Part of the medical team from Loma Linda University Health are recognized during the celebration program. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

“When we received the call, we realized that there’s very few things in our lifetime that unifies a church and that is in service,” said Edgar Drachenberg, director of Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) Loma Linda University Health Global Health Institute. “When a church provides service to the community, they come from around the different parts of the world, doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you come from, God can use our skills in every way.”

Ivelisse Herrera, treasurer of the Inter-American Division thanked the General Conference Treasury team for blessing the North Caribbean Conference and impacting St. Croix with the power of the gospel.  [Photo: Curtis Henry]

On behalf of the Inter-American Division, Ivelisse Herrera, treasurer, thanked the GC Treasury team for blessing the North Caribbean Conference and impacting St. Croix with the power of the gospel. “The seed has been planted now and we will keep on seeing results here as a result of the efforts here.” It’s all about mobilizing resources to fulfill the mission of the church as Paul Douglas has emphasized, she said. “All of you have come from far and have offered yourselves as an offering to the Lord, and we in the IAD appreciate and thank you,” Herrera said.

Pastor Busi Khumalo (left) joins young people during their march throughout communities in  Frederiksted in St. Croix on Sabbath afternoon Apr. 13, 2024. Pastor Khumalo spoke during a rally after the march and addressed young people during special sessions days before. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

Bertie Henry, treasurer of the Caribbean Union, thanked all those present for the impact each made during the evangelistic and community service impact. “You really can’t measure the impact that has been made here. We hardly know the depth and breadth of this impact, so we thank you Josh and the team for the arduous work you did,” Henry said.

The community impact throughout the two-week evangelistic series also included activities led by the GC treasury team, including vacation bible school, a youth dialogue session, a youth march, and rally throughout the community, as well as chapel talks and mural paintings at St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School. Mission impact activities also included beautifying the multi-purpose center, soccer field and basketball court at Central Adventist Church grounds.

German Lust, associate treasurer of the General Conference tells a story during a Vacation Bible School session organized by treasury team members on Apr. 11, 2024. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

“When we are united in mission, we’re going to finish work so we can go home,” Pierre concluded.

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