Pastor Ainsworth Keith Morris (center) evangelist at the Central Adventist Church during the island-wide “Your Journey to Joy” evangelistic series, introduces the three generations of the Rodriguez family and other baptismal candidates before they are baptized on Apr. 6, 2024, in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Thirteen members of the Rodriguez family made their decision to get baptized after bible studies with Bible Worker Joseph Sommers. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

Thirteen members of the Rodriguez family commit to God through baptism.

April 17, 2024 | Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands | Royston Philbert and Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist community in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands welcomed dozens of new members on April 6, 2024, at the end of the first of the two-week evangelism initiative across the island. Among them were eleven members of a family that encompasses four generations, organizers reported.

The “Journey to Joy” in-person evangelistic series, a joint effort of the General Conference Treasury team, the Caribbean Union, the North Caribbean Conference, and other partners, included four guest speakers at four venues, a free health clinic, and social initiatives. Through the united, multilingual ministry of pastors, prayer intercessors, Bible workers, and musicians, dozens of people joined the church through baptism at the end of the first week.

Members of the Rodriguez Family stand at the front of the church in their baptismal robes before their baptism on Apr. 6, 2024, in St. Croix, United States. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

After seven Bible-based presentations from Pastor Ainsworth Keith Morris at the Central Adventist Church in Fred, the Rodriguez family were among those individuals who chose to follow Jesus and were baptized at the beach, said Morris. “I saw them every night. They would come and sit together. The fact that they have all given their lives to Jesus attests that the Holy Spirit speaks to families. I am excited about the connectedness of the church to embrace all the members of the family — it’s fantastic!” said Morris.

As one of the Bible workers attached to the central church, Joseph Sommers is well-acquainted with the Rodriguez family.  He is elated that so many family members found joy. Among them a grandmother, daughter, and 11 grandchildren. “It was love-evangelism in action,” said Sommers. “It is such a pleasure to see them take their stand for God.”

Evangelist Ainsworth Keith Morris (center)  speaks to church members of Central Adventist Church in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, as he introduces the Rodriguez Family and other baptismal candidates on Apr. 6, 2024. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

The Adventist Church intents on rebuilding the spiritual lives of homes, he added.  “In this case, it was not easy. They had some bad experiences, but I used love evangelism during our interactions. With all the challenges we were facing, the Holy Spirit placed it in me, and I offered to prepare meals for them during the Easter season.” Sommers said he went shopping and prepared the best meal possible. “That did it,” he said. “They all ate, and the occasion created a tremendous bond between us all. They call me Big Brother now.”

Sommers, who has roots in Jamaica, has 34 years of experience as a Bible worker and currently serves in that capacity at an Adventist Church in the Florida Conference in the United States.  Sommers and Pastor Wynfield Ambrose, associate pastor of the Central and Hope Adventist congregations, shared the joy of the Rodriguez family.

Members of the Central Adventist Church in St. Croix, raise their hands in approval after baptismal candidates went over their baptismal vows. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

“Weeks before the evangelistic campaigns started, Bible workers began to visit hundreds of persons who had expressed an interest in studying the Bible before baptism,” shared Ambrose. “Many of them were invited to attend the services. The Rodriquez family was among more than one hundred and thirty persons who attended the opening session of the series.”

In response to Pastor Ambrose’s sermon, Ackima Rodríguez, a daughter of the family, explained, “It touched me, and I accepted the invitation to attend the local church the next Sabbath. The Holy Spirit was leading again as Elder Sommers was the speaker at the local Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church.” At the appeal, I responded and accepted the call for Bible studies at home.  I think it was really interesting hearing the preacher. As I listened to the sermons, I understood and knew that it was time to give my life to Jesus.”

Geneva Rodriguez (center) sits with most of her family of children and grandchildren who were baptized on Apr. 6, 2024, at Central Adventist Church as Joseph Sommers (left) bible worker and Pastor Wynfield Ambrose (right), associate pastor of the Central Adventist Church in St. Croix, stand with the family. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

Pastor Ambrose also shared that some of them “had to be accommodated with additional items for church, but the team members willingly reached out and purchased items of clothing so that they could be at the services,” he said. “There is no better way to bring joy to the heart than to see the joy on the faces of the entire family during the baptism on Sabbath. There are two more to be baptized and we are looking forward to seeing them take their stand soon.”

The island-wide April 2024 evangelistic campaign crowned a series of outreach and missionary activities across St. Croix. During the first quarter of 2024, church leaders and members redoubled their efforts to spread the gospel through various community impact activities.

On Global Youth Day 2024, Mar. 16, Adventurers, Pathfinders, and Master Guides covered communities with prayer and shared tangible expressions of love. In preparation for Impact ’24 Your Journey to Joy, children, adolescents, youth, and adults embraced their neighborhoods and communities, leaders shared. “Now God has responded by adding scores of members to the church,” they said.

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