Church members and visitors wait for the beginning of the “Your Journey to Joy” evangelistic series at the Central Adventist church in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, on March 30. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Initiative has synergized the efforts of church leaders and members across regions.

April 4, 2024 | Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands | Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review

After months of preparation, the official launch of the Impact 24 evangelistic initiative in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, brought joy to church leaders and members of Seventh-day Adventist churches across the island on March 30. The Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in the west end of the island was no exception.

Church members and dozens of guests were welcomed for the first meeting of the “Your Journey to Joy” series, which will run until April 13 and includes in-person meetings six nights a week, a health clinic, and a community outreach project.

The speaker for the two-week series at the Central Adventist church is Ainsworth Keith Morris. The Central church is one of four venues for the Impact 24 initiative in St. Croix. [Photo: Caribbean Union Conference]

The series is the result of a combined effort by the Adventist Church’s General Conference Treasury Department, Inter-American Division, Caribbean Union Conference, and North Caribbean Conference. It has also enlisted the support of Loma Linda University Health, Hope Channel International, and Adventist Review.

“The messages we are going to hear will be uplifting, connecting us all in a journey toward something great,” the meeting’s announcer told hundreds of people in the sanctuary. “In these two weeks, you have a chance to pause from your busy schedule, relax, and even discover paths to happiness, fulfillment, and joy. Who doesn’t want that?” she asked. “We pray that as you complete this journey, you may find joy in the Lord.”

The worship team invited everyone, members and guests, to praise the Lord’s name as a way of moving toward joy. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

A Mission Territory

When the GC Treasury team at the Adventist Church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, zeroed in on this US territory as their special mission project for 2024 after narrowing it down from a dozen possibilities, some local leaders and members doubted it was a wise move. “After all, it’s not that this is an unreached territory,” a church leader commented. “Almost everyone is a Christian, and people know the Adventist Church.”

St. Croix has gone through major challenges in the past few years, however. Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. After the catastrophe, many residents, including some Adventist church members, left the island to live and work in the continental US (because they are English-speaking US citizens, the transition is very straightforward). Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which again forced many to stay away from church and others to eventually resettle elsewhere, local leaders explained.

One of the billboards placed around the Central Adventist church in St. Croix to advertise the evangelistic series. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Also, despite its strong Christian tradition, St. Croix is an increasingly western society, and Adventists find it harder to share Bible truth and engage people in Bible studies and spiritual commitment than in the past, local leaders explained. A recent audit revealed that despite having more than 4,700 baptized church members (in a population of around 41,000) on the church books of the seven main Adventist congregations on the island, a great percentage of them are unaccounted for, either because they have moved away or stopped attending. There’s a lot to do to turn this situation around, they admit. And it is what gives this evangelistic push its raison d’être.

Reaching Out to the Community

On April 10, a team of around 20 people from Loma Linda University Health will travel to St. Croix to offer a free health clinic in a spacious hall across from the Central Adventist church sanctuary. According to the official announcement, the team will be providing dental cleaning, fillings and extractions, primary care, blood pressure and glucose screenings, fittings for reading glasses, and mental health and family counseling. As people wait for the services, they will be able to choose between several spa treatments, including chair massage, shoulder massage, eye rejuvenation, and facials, the Central church announced.

Two of the guests stand up to receive a special welcome on the opening day of the Impact 24 evangelistic series in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands on March 30. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

The GC Treasury team that planned this evangelistic initiative in St. Croix said they also wanted to support a project that might serve as a show of support for the community surrounding the church. They found what they were looking for on the church grounds, where a basketball court had been in ruins after the hurricane and years of involuntary neglect and lack of maintenance.

With funds from donors and others set aside from the team’s regular budget, church leaders plan a resurfacing and refurbishment of the court, with the hope that it will attract young church members and their unchurched community friends for a friendly game that builds meaningful relationships. “We would like this basketball court to eventually become a center of influence in the community,” local leaders said.

Guest speaker for the series at the Central Adventist church is Ainsworth Keith Morris, who invited people to get ready for “when our midnight comes.” [Photo: Caribbean Union Conference]

Ready for Midnight

The speaker for the two-week series at the Central church is Ainsworth Keith Morris. An Adventist pastor originally from Jamaica, Morris is now evangelist in the Northeastern Conference in the US. The Central church is one of four venues for the series, three of them in English and one in Spanish. At the Central church, the music ministry is being coordinated by Gale Jones Murphy, a renowned singer and composer who has authored widely known Christian songs, including the Adventist favorite, “Sabbath Rest.”

In his opening message on March 30, Morris invited his audience to reflect on the experience of Paul and Silas in Acts 16, where they were put in jail but kept singing and praising the Lord despite their ordeal.

The hall across from the Central Adventist church in St. Croix, where a team from Loma Linda University Health will offer a free health clinic April 11-12 and 14-15. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

“All of us have ‘mountaintop moments,’ moments that are glorious in our lives,” Morris said. “But life is not lived on the mountaintop. There are days when we are in the valley, surrounded by darkness.” He added, “All of us will experience our midnight.… All of us have a date with a storm. And the question is, How do I deal with my storm? Paul and Silas kept praising the Lord!”

As he closed, Morris invited everyone, but especially guests, to come to the podium for a special prayer. Dozens responded.

“That’s the reason why we are here, because there’s someone who needs to say, ‘I must get ready for when midnight comes,’ ” he said.

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