Media evangelism leads to 34,000 baptisms in East-Central Africa Division
More than 34,000 people have been baptized in the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) due to virtual evangelism in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
East-Central Africa Division (ECD) leaders decided to leverage media opportunities for evangelism at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic when it became apparent that physical gatherings were becoming impossible. The first evangelistic series was conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other French-speaking countries, followed by evangelistic efforts conducted through Adventist media in the English-speaking countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Although English was the primary language, the message was translated into various dialects to reach as many people as possible.
The theme of the campaign was “More Than Conquerors.” Speakers were the ECD executive secretary, Alain Coralie, and his wife, Caroline. “We must rise above the challenges of this life and the limitations that the world is trying to put on us,” Coralie said. “I urge everybody to find their identity in Christ, who enables His children to be overcomers.” According to Coralie, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped shake God’s people from their spiritual lethargy, inviting them to get involved in preaching the gospel.
Speaking of nurture and retention of new members, Coralie reminded listeners of the division motto: Win one and lose none. “Baptism is not the final goal; our call is to make disciples, true followers of Christ,” he emphasized as he invited every local church to ground the new believers in Christ through serious Bible studies and active service.
In the past five years, ECD has grown exponentially, crossing the mark of 4.5 million members. ECD president Blasious Ruguri called it “a miracle from God,” saying he attributes such growth to following Christ’s method of meeting people’s needs. “I have seen that church members are thirsty for serving others,” he said.
Joel Okindoh, ECD evangelism coordinator, said about media, “I praise God for leading the division to this new method of evangelism during the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Prince Bahati, East-Central Africa Division, and Adventist Review]
New educational center caters to immigrants’ needs Bucharest, Romania
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Romania inaugurated the new Hope for Immigrants Educational Center in Bucharest. The center will cater to refugees’ needs, especially those coming from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia, leaders reported.
The ADRA center offers Romanian, English, and Arabic language courses, as well as classes in tailoring and music, along with haircuts for men. The center is open for seminars, receptions, and family celebrations as allowed, all free of charge. Construction of the center took place despite pandemic restrictions. Several Seventh-day Adventist Church organizations and anonymous donors contributed to make this project a reality.
“We found joy in the opportunity to support this new ADRA project,” Muntenia Conference president Robert Mandache said. “We feel we are paying a debt due to the assistance each one of us has received from God as ‘strangers and pilgrims’ on this earth. It is something that compels us to assist others, especially the vulnerable.”
By setting up this educational center, ADRA continues with an initiative launched in 2015 to assist families and young immigrants in Romania. “The inauguration of this new center proves to us, once again, that empathy and care for our fellow man should be our default setting, something that transcends geographical, cultural, ethnic, religious, or gender boundaries,” ADRA Romania executive director Robert Georgescu said.
For ADRA volunteers assistant manager Mihai Brașov, who coordinated the project, this is a dream come true. “I am glad to inaugurate this center, where our friends can discover our hospitable nation, our language, and become friends with ADRA’s volunteers.”
Mohaned Alkorejee, a radiologist who immigrated from Iraq, stated, “It was a wonderful day when I met good people, wonderful people who work in ADRA. I have heard about this organization, but I felt the difference between what I read and what I saw. From the first moment of the meeting, you feel like you are at home with your family.”
Through Hope for Immigrants, ADRA Romania recognizes the human side of the current refugee crisis and the value of each person involved. By respecting human rights and acting with compassion, ADRA aims to minimize the impact of such overwhelming and unbearable situations for as many men, women, and children as possible. [ADRA Romania and Adventist Review]
The dance of joy—baptism in Switzerland
Lourdes found Jesus in a most unusual way.
“At a wedding, I noticed a young man dancing very well. I didn’t speak to him, but he spoke to my sister. She told me he liked singing with the young people of his church. The word ‘church’ had a surprising effect on my heart. It was the starting point of my journey to real life.” Lourdes recalls searching the young man’s Facebook profile the very next day.
“I asked to be his friend on the social network and we started to talk. I asked him questions about God . . . until the day he invited me to go to his church, the Hispanic Adventist Church in Lignon (Switzerland). It was my first contact with the Adventist Church.
“I went there on August 3, 2019. I was stressed because I didn’t know anyone except this young man. But I felt very good because people welcomed me warmly. They were interested in me.
“I also met Pastor Leo, who that day preached on the theme ‘there is no blind man worse than the one who does not want to see.’ And without a pun, I opened my eyes to my life.
“I realized that I was unhappy and that I had a problem with alcohol. That was the turning point. I went back to church the following Saturday because I had found the experience of this Sabbath really cool. There I heard a message that described our value before God. Again, God spoke to me, and I felt that I had value in God’s eyes.
“I naturally started Bible studies with Pastor Leo. At the end of the first Bible study, on my way home, I experienced something crazy. I felt like dancing for joy and had peace all over! I felt a sense of well-being that I had never felt before. I was so amazed that I wrote to Leo, asking him what was going on inside me. And he said, ‘This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you.’
“I had been drinking every day; I was freed from it; I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore. My thirst that was now overflowing was a thirst for God, to know Him, to praise Him.
“During the quarantine, alone with my God, I began to want to meet Him every day, every moment. My thoughts evolved in relation to baptism. I felt ready and had no reason to wait. I gave my life to Jesus and got baptized.
“Confined alone at home, I was afraid at one point to fall back to alcohol because the temptation was greater. But Jesus was there with me, and that is the strongest. I didn’t fall back into alcohol. I’ve experienced my strength in God. I know I need God in my life. And I know that even if I have problems, Jesus is the solution. He’s part of my life. He won’t let go of me, and I won’t let Him go either!”[Adventiste Magazine]