Floating church baptizes over 200 people in Brazil’s Amazon
Amazon River, Brazil—Raimundo Andrade, 66, is a farmer who lives in Itapuru, some 143 miles (230 kilometers) from Manaus, Brazil. Andrade was among the people attending a meeting at the “Floating Church” vessel in Itapuru, an Amazon coastal community that can be reached only through the nearby Purús River.
For years, Andrade worked hard and made his best effort to provide for his family, he said. In his heart, however, he felt something was missing—he felt empty and distressed. When the mission boat arrived in Itapuru, leaders invited Andrade and his wife, Eumarina, to attend meetings on the vessel. The couple also began to watch an evangelistic series.
After going through Bible studies, Andrade concluded that he had found what he had been missing. But he did not keep his new knowledge to him-self—he invited his children to attend the meetings. Soon the whole family began attending.
On December 20, 2018, Adventist leaders in northwest Brazil attended the inauguration of yet another new Adventist church that resulted from the Floating Church outreach. As part of the ceremony, Andrade, his wife, and their family—20 people in total—gave public witness of their commitment to Jesus through baptism.
“Today our lives have changed,” Andrade said after the ceremony. “I feel lighter. I have peace, and I am happy because my family also accepted Christ.”
Also attending the baptismal ceremony were young people taking part in the One Year in Mission program. Throughout 2018, a group of 24 young people provided support and helped serve the communities visited by the Floating Church.
The Floating Church worked in ten riverside communities and planted five churches along the north and mid-west region of the Amazon. The work resulted in more than 200 baptisms.
Pastor Reno Guerra and his wife, Natália, the missionary couple at the helm of the project, said they feel very grateful for all that God has done through the vessel. “Despite the significant challenges involved, God has blessed the work very much,” Guerra said. “It is rewarding to see people making decisions for Jesus.”
Guerra shared that in 2018, boat personnel made more than two thousand medical visits. With the sup-port of ADRA Brazil, Amazonas Region, and volunteer professionals, they also organized health fairs to teach coastal community residents how to take care of their health.
Throughout the year, Guerra said, they were able to see God’s hand at work. “We have nothing but gratitude for God’s care and mercies,” he said. [Priscila Baracho with Alex Simões, South American Division and Adventist Review]
Year-end meetings focus on discipleship
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia—More than 70 people from nine countries in the South Pacific Division (SPD) gathered at Avondale College, November 14 and 15, 2018. The year-end meetings featured reports from each of the unions and institutions across the Pacific. The meetings also had a focus on mission, discipleship, and respectful discussion.
The SPD’s Discipleship Ministries Team (DMT) reported a keen interest in the past 12 months among church members for disciple-making resources, especially books printed by Signs Publishing: 5,000 copies of Mission Shift, 16,000 copies of Following Jesus, 7,000 copies of Following the Spirit, and 10,000 copies of If You Can Eat, You Can Make Disciples have been ordered. On top of that, 3,000 orders have already been received for the French translation of Following Jesus, which has only just been launched.
The DMT team also launched The Tuis, an animated children’s DVD series that takes families through the 28 fundamental beliefs.
Dr. Leigh Rice, director of the discipleship cluster, said, “Discipleship informs all other activities—our strategy is disciple-making, maximizing health and media ministries with a focus on disciple-making in the cities, aligning finances, and other church activities to make better and more disciples.” [Jarrod Stackelroth/Maritza Brunt, Adventist Record]
Seventh-day Adventist Church adopts new brand promise
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States—“We can help you understandthe Bible to find freedom, healing and hope in Jesus.” The Adventist Promise sets a clear expectation of what the worldwide public can expect from all Adventist entities and members.
The Adventist Promise aims to deliver a clear message about what the movement stands for and seeks to leave a lasting impression on people in the twenty-first century.
It is framed as a brand promise that is used by organizations worldwide to clearly explain what they offer to customers, constituents, and members of the general public.
The promise is deliberately short and shines a spotlight on people’s needs rather than on a long description of the church, its institutions, and history. It positions members of the public as the focus, with the church serving in a mentor role by helping people understand the Scriptures.
“The Bible is the foundation of our understanding of God. It is His Holy Word. It is the Written Word that points us to the Living Word, Jesus Christ. If you wish to know God’s will for your life, you must read His Word, understand His Word, and fulfill His Word—all through humble prayer on your part and the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life,” said the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church General Conference, Ted N. C. Wilson. “Jesus said in John 17:17, ‘Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.’ That’s why it is so important that we individually study and understand the Bible for ourselves as we look forward to Christ’s soon return.”
The Adventist Promise is the product of hundreds of conversations with church leaders and members worldwide.
Sam Neves, associate director of Communication for the General Conference, stressed the importance of having a clear message that defines the church: “We only have a few seconds to leave a lasting impression of how we can serve them.”
Church members around the world are being called to help deliver on the Adventist Promise by actively helping people understand the Bible. Adventists can help their friends and neighbors understand the Bible for themselves by going beyond the mere intellectual study of the Bible. This can be achieved by inviting people to join members in their homes and churches to help them experience a sense of Christian community as they study the Bible.
“It is not the role of the church to bring freedom, healing, and hope,” said Neves. He maintained that the Adventist Promise is about helping people under-stand the Bible so that they get to know Jesus for themselves and, through Him, find the hope they have been craving.
The Adventist Promise was approved by the General Conference Administrative Committee to become the core message of the Adventist.org website. It was presented to delegates from the world church at the 2018 Annual Council. [Adventist News Network]