Testimony, Dedication Highlight Ministerial Council
‘Vehicle of Hope’ rolls onstage
By Felipe Lemos, South American Division, reporting from Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
Exciting testimonies and the commitment to revival and restoration were highlights of the third day of the 2011 “United in Hope” South American Division Ministerial Council, taking place in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.
One of Brazil’s most emblematic vehicles, the “Fusca” (a local clone of the Volkswagen “Beetle”), drew cheers when brought onstage decorated as a “Fusca de Esperança,” or Vehicle of Hope. Behind the car lies a story of redemption and praise.
Inside were Nivaldo Silva and Neidiane Aparecida de Moura e Silva, a couple from the city of Mozart, in state of Goias, part of the church’s Midwest Brazil Union. Nivaldo, an alcoholic whose life was unhappy, came across the DVD Bible study “The Great Controversy,” presented by Pastor Luis Gonçalves.
Through this material, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit, he and his family came to the knowledge of the Bible and were baptized. Today, Nivaldo and Neidiane use this vehicle to bring messages of hope and listening to city residents.
VEHICLE OF HOPE: A Brazilian "clone" of the famed Volkswagen "Beetle" automobile, called a "Fusca," is now a vehicle of hope in Brazil. Here, Nivaldo Silva and Neidiane Aparecida de Moura e Silva, both of Mozart, in the Brazilian state of Goias, emerge from the car onstage at the South American Division Ministerial Conference to demonstrate God's transforming power. Through DVD Bible studies, Nivaldo, an alcoholic, and his wife were converted and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. [Photo: Felipe Lemos/SAD]
The evening meeting was marked by other reports. Paraguay, now its own union, had its group of pastors. Area church president, pastor Ignacio Kalbermatter said these workers were those who "grow the Adventist work in this country."
The Brazilian Union (UEB), comprising the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, showed a quick overview of Adventism in a territory with 161,000 members and 834 congregations.
In northern Brazil, the report recalled the history of pioneering left by American missionary Leo Halliwel, founder of the “Lighthouse” outreach project, which was recently reactivated in the Amazon region. According to Pastor Leonino Santiago, who heads the Adventist Church for the states of Pará, Amapá and Maranhão, there is one Adventist for every 82 inhabitants, an impressive proportion.
Pastor Leonel Lozano, president of the Adventist church in Ecuador, and other ministers, came on stage dressed in traditional costumes and presented a song featuring the equatorial nation. A highlight of the Ecuadorean report was the story of a literature evangelist who has helped dozens of people make a decision to follow Jesus; he has helped plant 21 churches.
The day began with a powerful sermon by Derek Morris, MINISTRY magazine editor and associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association. After noting the "harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, so we must beg, beg, [and] call for unity in the Spirit," the Adventist world church president, Pastor Ted Wilson and South American president, pastor Erton Köhler, with his wife, Adriene, stood in response. Next to stand were the 88 presidents of the Adventist Church's administrative offices in eight South American countries, all to reaffirm their commitment to God.
After that, some four thousand pastors also stood in response to the call for a new revival of their ministry.
Centering his message on John 4, Morris emphasized that each minister should look to their own city, village, or district to find the harvest that is preparing.
Morris noted that after her encounter with Christ, "the Samaritan woman returned to the town of Sychar to give living witness to her transformation. The woman ran to tell, tell, [and] announce the miracle," he said.
From the Greek, Morris analyzed the words "pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest to send workers."
“This means," he said, “to plead [with God] to launch out. Praying from the depths of the soul." And he asked: "What if all of us were to pray like this?" He answered: "God would put us in the right place, where people are blessed and transformed."