Pentecost and More Has Second
More than 38,000 join the church in a single day.
By Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
More than 38,000 people joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America as territory-wide baptisms took place during the second Pentecost and More event on March 15. The total is expected to rise to more than 40,000 as five of the church regions have yet to report. The historic three-and-a-half-hour program took place during a satellite broadcast viewed worldwide from the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica—the event’s hub.
Pentecost and More represented the culmination of joint evangelistic efforts by thousands of church leaders and members throughout Inter-America’s 15 major church unions over the past several months. Last year’s program of the same name was hosted in the Dominican Republic, drew millions of satellite viewers, and accounted for 48,602 baptisms.
CROWD OF WITNESSES: Nearly 7,000 people crowded the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica, to witness and participate in the Inter-American Division satellite event Pentecost and More, which resulted in more than 38,000 baptisms March 15.The title was inspired by the biblical Pentecost as recounted in Acts 2. The event featured a dozen satellite feeds from church sites throughout Inter-America as well as an array of musical and spiritual messages aimed at officially welcoming new believers and strengthening them as they join the church. The program was broadcast live through Adventist Television Network, the Hope Channel, 3ABN, and Red Advenir, as well as Esperanza TV and 3ABN Latino. Translations were provided in French and Spanish.
“By joining the church today … you are joining the likes of Adam, of Abraham, of Paul, of John, of Ellen White, of all the millions [of people] who are waiting for the coming of the Lord,” said Israel Leito, Inter-America church president, as he spoke to hundreds seated at the arena awaiting baptism, as well as thousands more viewing the broadcast.
“We must share the hope with the world, we must share hope with fellow believers, we must deliberately determine to be good and be good to others,” he said. “We have to stick together as fellow believers, we have to stick to our beliefs, we have to stick to our Lord, we have to stick to our hope, we have to stick to our commitment.”
It was that unity of hope and commitment to fulfill the mission of the church that brought the 3 million Seventh-day Adventists across Inter-America to celebrate together.
More than 7,000 people crowded inside National Arena to savor the culmination of the evangelistic efforts that swept through all of Jamaica’s 14 parishes during months of tent revival meetings and community outreach.
“Since January we have started our season of ‘reaping,’ which will be followed today by the season of nurture and conservation,” said Patrick Allen, West Indies region church president, during the event. “We have prayed, we have fasted, and we have witnessed to men and women of the saving love of Jesus in small groups and in our local churches. Entire congregations have been involved. We thank God for the opportunity to rejoice with our brothers and sisters throughout Inter-America as we present our trophies to our God.”
Nearly 600 new believers, dressed in baptismal robes, arrived from throughout Jamaica in dozens of buses to publicly testify of their commitment to Christ. Dozens of ministers waited to submerge the new believers at the arena’s nearby Olympic-sized pool as well as one small baptistery set up inside the arena.
“I want the world to know that I am ready, that I’m not turning back,” said Admarie Hunte, a baptismal candidate who traveled with her youngest son, Denore Greaves, from the St. Mary parish in northeast Jamaica. She said she is the product of two generations of Adventists, but had never made the decision to get baptized.
“Jesus is my guiding light and I depend on Him day and night and every hour,” she added. “He never let me down.”
“I can’t explain how much I’m really happy, it’s the happiest time of my life,” said Wayne Whyte, another baptismal candidate. Whyte, now in his 30s, said although he had been exposed to the truth at an early age, he decided in the last few weeks to get baptized while attending a crusade at Padmore Adventist Church.
“I want to witness for Christ,” he said. “I want to be a true disciple.”
Thousands more baptisms were witnessed on the live satellite broadcast screens.
“This event not only dealt with the issue of baptism; it dealt with the issue of bringing the Inter-American Division together,” said Leito, following the program. “People saw each other, they heard each other, and we marched together as one [church].”
REPRESENTING THOUSANDS:Close to 600 believers—a representative number of the 38,000 immersed throughout the region—were baptized at the National Arena’s Olympic-sized pool in Kingston, Jamaica, as the Pentecost and More satellite event took place throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America.That message of unity has been more evident throughout the church in Inter-America during the past two decades as top church administrators have set out to encourage and promote togetherness among its multi-cultural, multi-language countries and islands comprising the Inter-American Division. George W. Brown, former president of the church in Inter-America instrumental in laying the groundwork for the promotion of unity in the territory, delivered a special message on the subject.
“This is an ideal time for God’s church in the Inter-American Division to recapture once again the true spirit of Pentecost, the spirit of unity, oneness, and harmony as together we take the gospel of the kingdom to all the world,” Brown said.
“This is the key to a progressive advancing church in all the world: unity of spirit, unity of message, unity of purpose, unity as we go forward for the culmination of the work of God in all the world,” he added. “We are confronted with the rich and poor, with the upper class, middle class, lower class, and the classless—all must be brought together under one great banner.”
In its second year as an evangelistic initiative, the 2008 Pentecost and More focused more on showcasing the impact the church has made in the local communities through unique outreach projects. Blood drives, feeding the needy, radio and television programs, Bible distribution, and aggressive health initiatives were just some of the outreach projects featured.
According to Balvin Braham, associate ministerial director for the church in Inter-America and main event organizer, another important objective this year was to refocus the gospel presentation on the consolidation and retention of new believers.
“We want these joint efforts to have lasting evangelistic effects throughout the territory, inspiring members to focus more on the felt needs of the people in their communities,” he said.
Plans have already been drawn for 2009’s Pentecost and More program. The idea is to host large events in each of the major 15 regions rather than having one hub for all, according to Braham.
“This will allow for yet more involvement of the membership in finishing the work,” he said.
“We are so grateful that the Lord has been using pastors, administrators, laymen, young people to carry the gospel as we look forward to the finishing of the preaching and the coming God and Savior,” Braham said.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America territory covers Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the northern tip of South America, and has more than 3 million members worshipping in 9,592 churches and congregations.