General Conference Treasurer Paul Douglas and IAD Treasurer Ivelisse Herrera part of her team join church leaders and members at the Tacubaya Adventist Church, in Mexico City, Mexico, on May 12, 2024, during an eight-day visit to Mexico and Cuba recently. [Photo: Central Mexican Union]

General Conference Treasurer Paul Douglas and IAD treasury team meet with leaders and members for stronger togetherness in fulfilling the mission.

May 29, 2024 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

General Conference Treasurer Pastor Paul H. Douglas and Inter-American Division Treasurer Ivelisse Herrera and her treasury team recently visited Seventh-day Adventist leaders, workers and members throughout Mexico and Cuba on a mission to motivate them to continue their commitment to finishing the task of spreading the gospel in preparation for Jesus’ Second Coming.

The eight-day tour, held May 11-18, was the first such back-to-back trip that was meant to highlight the blessings of God throughout the church in Inter-America and the global church, recognize the advancement of the various ministries, and encourage leaders and church members to remain focused on the mission.

Inter-American Division Treasurer Ivelisse Herrera speaks to church leaders during the eight-day visit to Mexico and Cuba. [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

“God’s work in the Inter-American Division continues to advance in the winning of souls, in the planting of new churches, through all of the ministries of the church including the dedicated work of laypersons, the youth, women, children, through educational institutions, and in a very special way through the stewardship department and treasury, we have seen how the hand of God is growing His church,” said Mrs. Herrera.

“Together in Mission”

The goal through the visit was to carry a message of encouragement and motivation to each church member active in the mission of the church. “It doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from, what language we speak, or what our responsibilities we have but what is true is that we are together in mission,” she said.  “Jesus is coming soon, and we should finish the work that has been entrusted to us so we can soon go home with Him.”

Themed “Together in Mission,” the visit saw the traveling team starting from the northern, central, and southern parts of Mexico, in historical Adventist churches, union headquarter offices and auditoriums. “Mexico is an important part of the growth of the church in Inter-America and was a good fit with the time frame available for our GC treasurer,” said Herrera.

Church members at the Vallarta Adventist Church in Monterrey, Mexico, listen to treasury leaders on the growth of the church around the world church and the focus on expanding the mission of the church. [Photo: North Mexican Union]

In North Mexico

The journey through Mexico saw Pastor Douglas speaking to nearly 400 graduates during a keynote Sabbath address at Montemorelos University in Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, on May 11. “You must keep the lamp of faith while you wait for the Second Coming of Christ, he said as he reflected on the parable of the 10 virgins in Mathew 25. Douglas challenged graduates to be lamps that radiate light in a dark and needy world. “We need persons in this world, not to fill the light but to be lamps that illuminate the world, that reflect Christ,” said Douglas.

Dozens of church treasurers, stewardship directors, church elders, ministry leaders and members met at Vallarta Adventist Church, the first to be established in Monterrey in 1938. There they heard Pastor Douglas encourage all to double their efforts in preaching the gospel. “We need to be clear in who God is, God as the Creator, and who we are as created by Him,” he said. “God is the governor, and we are the governed, God is the supreme and we are the subjects, God is the source, and we are the stewards, everything we can see and have belongs to the Lord,” said Douglas.

Church leaders from the North Mexican Union welcome the membership and General Conference and Inter-American Division treasury team to the Vallarta Adventist Church in Monterrey, Mexico, May 11, 2024. [Photo: North Mexican Union]

In her message to the treasurers and stewardship directors, Herrera thanked them for managing God’s sacred resources. “I pray that God empowers you and gives you the wisdom to carry out the work with responsibility, dedication, and commitment.  The work you do is extremely important and that is evident in the growth that God is giving to his church and providing resources for the fulfillment of the mission,” said Mrs. Herrera.

IAD Stewardship Director Pastor Roberto Herrera praised the growth of the church and the importance of remaining mission focused. “It is all about growing our relationship with God and serving Him so that others can learn about the message,” said Pastor Herrera.

Statistics and figures on how the church is growing financially in Mexico were shared by Florencio Suárez, associate treasurer of the IAD serving the church in Mexico.

Pastor Roberto Herrera, stewardship director of the IAD speaks to church leaders at the Tacubaya Adventist Church, in Mexico City, Mexico, May 12, 2024. [Photo: Central Mexican Union]

Juanita Medina, treasurer of the Monte Sión Adventist Church, said she was moved at how God is blessing the church amid crisis and how His power is manifested around the world. “I have 13 years as treasurer in the Northeast Conference and I do my work with love because it is the Lord’s,” said Medina. “I feel satisfied how funds are managed wisely and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit all for the benefit of sharing the gospel.”

In Central Mexico

During their visit with church leaders and church members in Mexico City, Pastor Jorge García, president of the Central Mexican Union, shared the progress of the church and its challenges. “We need to reach more persons, reach better finances, and develop the infrastructure as churches and institutions, as well as the effective means of communication in evangelism,” he said.

Gema Editors publishing house and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Mexico leaders shared plans and initiatives for the advancement of mission in Mexico City and the nation.

Pastor Jorge García, president of the Central Mexican Union, shares the advances and challenges of the leadership in Mexico City and throughout the territory, May 13, 2024. [Photo: Central Mexican Union]

Pastor Douglas spoke to church leaders and members at the Tacubaya Adventist Church, the first church established in the country. He expressed the support of the world church for them. “The Central Mexican Union has the support of the local, division, and world church, but if it did not have that support, it can count on the support of God,” said Douglas.  “God always cooperates with those who dedicate themselves to his work with love and discipline.”

In Inter-Oceanic Mexico

The treasury team again highlighted the objective of their visit as they met with hundreds of church leaders, educators, and members in Puebla on May 13.

Pastor Douglas urged leaders to address the mission strategically under the pillars of intelligence, integration, and investment, and adapt to local needs and challenges. “We have to change the way we act as church leaders and preach the gospel so that Christ can come soon,” he said.

Pastor Paul Douglas, GC treasurer, addresses school principals, accountants, and chaplains in Metepect, Pueblos, Mexio, May 13, 2024.[Photo: Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union]

The visiting team also met with dozens of school principals, accountants, and chaplains from the Adventist school system in Metepec, Puebla.

“Our schools should be bible study centers,” said Douglas. “We need to invest financial resources in our school because when we do so we are investing in the mission of the Adventist Church.” Douglas also called on school leaders to commit to preparing students not only for this world but for eternity, challenge them to be humble and to reflect Christ in their daily life.

Adventist schools were recognized for having the most baptisms in the territory. Local leaders are aiming to reach 1,200 baptisms this year through new bible studies being implemented.

Ivelisse Herrera shares the importance of investing funds in the mission of the church during her address in Metepec, Puebla, Mexico, May 13, 2024[Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Juan Pablo Rodríguez, principal of 16 de Septiembre Adventist School in Acapulco, Guerrero, said: “This event teaches us that we are part of a global system and there is a lot of interest in our Adventist educational system to grow academically, culturally and mainly spiritually.”

In Chiapas

More than 300 church elders, laypersons, and pastors from churches gathered with administrators from each of the eight local fields in Chiapas to welcome the treasury team. Union leaders in the region reported that nearly 33,000 baptisms took place in 2023.

Chiapas Mexican Union leaders welcome treasury leaders during the large gathering in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico, May 15, 2024. [Photo: Chiapas Mexican Union]

“We thank God for such a strong union in all of its levels,” said Douglas. “Each of you and us here are united in mission. Douglas urged leaders to continue strong in preparing people for Jesus coming. “If we believe that Jesus is coming soon, as a church and group of believers, we must think and act in a different way, we should think where we are and where we are headed, as we evaluate our integration in working together to do great things for God and His work.”

It’s about working united in mission, reaffirmed Mrs. Herrera. “As a church, we should invest resources and make every effort to support the mission,” she said. “We are emphasizing throughout the IAD territory a special focus in support of the mission, looking at God’s provision, seeing finances as an opportunity and considering resources as a privilege given to us to advance through each church, group, and member in preparation for the heavens.”

Local church leaders in Chiapas, Mexico, were greeted by IAD and GC leaders for their church’s outstanding faithfulness, generosity, gratitude and growth across the territory. [Photo: Chiapas Mexican Union]

The message was clear, precise, and motivating, said Andrés Montesinos, treasurer of the Terrazas Adventist Church in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. “’Together in Mission’ is all about getting the local church and members on board with this mission and continue doing the task Jesus has called us to do to reach more souls for the kingdom,” Montesinos said.

In Southeast Mexico

“We know where we are going and what we must do, and we should use God’s strategies to grow the mission,” said Douglas as he addressed administrators, workers, pastors and church members in Cancun, Quintana Roo, on May 16. “We have the greatest opportunity to finish the work of the gospel in preparation for Jesus’ coming so we must think and act differently in this world.”

Nearly 1,000 church leaders and members in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, listen to GC Treasurer Pastor Paul Douglas during the special gathering on May 16, 2024. Abilio Cima (left) under treasurer of the Inter-American Division translates Pastor Douglas.[Photo: Southeast Mexican Union]

Mrs. Herrera thanked church pastors and members for being committed collaborators in the advancement of the gospel across the seven local fields in the Southeast Mexican Union territory. “It doesn’t matter where you work, you have a mission, we are a family together in the fulfillment of the mission,” she said.

More than 900 from throughout the territory listened to financial reports and the success of the union’s growth since 2019, with 2023 being the best one with an increase of 15.94 percent in tithes and offerings, administrators reported.  “The financial wellbeing of the seven local fields is due to the wise management of resources, spending less and saving more,” reported José Luis Olmos, treasurer of the Southeast Mexican Union.

Pastor Douglas urged the audience to “conserve their energies to preach the Second Coming of Jesus, to talk less about problems and more about salvation, preaching the living and obeying the Word of God.”

A church leaders addresses the treasury leaders during the session meeting in Metepec, Puebla, Mexico, on May 13, 2024.[Photo: Southeast Mexican Union]

“The visit of our General Conference treasurer and the team really motivates me to continue believing that this is God’s church and is led by the Holy Spirit, be more faithful to God and continue being involved in the fulfillment of the mission,” said Daniel Surian Velasco, a church member of the Milagro Adventist Church.

In Cuba

Amid power outages and gasoline shortage affecting Cuba, more than 300 pastors, church elders and ministries leaders gathered at La Vibora Adventist Church in Havana, as they heard reports of the church in mission throughout the world and the Inter-American Division.

Being in Cuba was particularly special for Douglas as he shared that his parents both were born and worked in Cuba.

Douglas encouraged local leaders to trust in God and cling to His promises. “All of our treasures, our time, all our talents must be put in service to the great mission we must fulfill as disciples of Jesus so that in these last days, the preaching of the gospel can encircle the entire world and we can soon meet our God,” Douglas said.

Church leaders and members in La Vibora Adventist Church in Havana, Cuba, listen to Pastor Paul Douglas, treasurer of the General Conference on May. 18, 2024.  [Photo: Cuba Union]

Mrs. Herrera encouraged church members and reassured them that the IAD is committed to providing funds to further advance the gospel and assist pastoral families as they continue to shepherd the dozens of congregations on the island.

Pastor Roberto Herrera encouraged leaders to continue trusting “God who can do anything, even amid uncertain circumstances in Cuba. God has not abandoned us, He is present in our lives and has mercy and grace for His people and fulfills His promises with his faithful servants,” he said.

The visit meant so much for the leadership and membership in Cuba, said Pastor Aldo Perez, president of the Cuban Union. “This has been a very important and valuable opportunity for our local field treasurers and leaders because we are going through a very strong economic crisis here where there is a shortage of medicines, not a lot of electricity, and more,” said Perez.

IAD Treasurer Ivelisse Herrera is thankful church members are so passionate and committed to financing the mission of the church at local and world-wide levels [Photo: Daniel Gallardo/IAD]

Even with the difficulties in the country, church members are faithful with their tithes and offerings, he added. “The proportion between tithes and offerings is very good, and the church continues to see many more souls baptized into the church, especially in the capital, thanks to God.”

Reminding church leaders of the importance of being faithful stewards meant emphasizing that, for God’s work to advance, there must be a spiritual revival in each church member, said Pastor Herrera.  “Everyone who is awakened by the Holy Spirit will have an attitude of service coupled with an attitude of faithfulness,” he said.

Visiting the six unions was a unique and special experience, said Ivelisse Herrera. “Being able to connect with different sectors of the church confirmed the evidence that the church member in Inter-America is faithful and generous, committed to joyfully returning tithes and offerings,” she said. “Church members are passionate and committed to financing the work at local and world-wide levels and they trust the church as an organization and its leaders as well. This allows for a solid platform to support the mission of the church.”

Laura Marrero, Helena Corona, Gaby Chagolla, Cristel Romero, Uriel Castellanos, and Victor Martínez contributed to this article.

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