Inter-America: Church Celebrates Champion Lay Evangelists and Long-active Members
Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders of the Inter-American Division (IAD) honored champion lay evangelists as well as the longest-active members from across the territory during a special ceremony at the IAD headquarters office in Miami, Florida. Many executive committee members were present.
“Inter-America would not be Inter-America without its laypeople,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America. Leito expressed appreciation to the notable laypersons representing more than 1.5 million members across the territory watching the online streaming of the event.
“Your division appreciates you and the work that you do in the fulfillment of the mission of the church,” said Leito. “You’re an integral part of this church, and we thank you for partnering with our pastors together as teachers, professionals, nurses, doctors, and all who join to proclaim the gospel.”
Twenty-two outstanding laypersons from each of the IAD’s church regions, or unions, were honored with a medal, trophy, evangelistic books, and funds to use towards their evangelistic endeavors.
The special event sealed a two-day leadership training summit, and was part of a busy schedule of Year of the Laity festivities.
Sergio Moctezuma, a retired personal ministries and Sabbath school director for the church in the IAD, was also recognized for shaping scores of laypersons for decades.
“The laity in Inter-America was formed by Pastor Moctezuma,” said Leito. “Because of his work and his wife allowing us to benefit from this giant of a leader, today we have one the of the strongest lay forces around the world church.”
Marva Farquharson was among the laypersons honored. She represents the Atlantic Caribbean Union territory comprised of the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
For 36 years she has preached, trained, and shared Bible truths in New Providence and throughout dozens of islands in the Bahamas. When she’s not working as the human resources director for the Public Hospital Authority in the Bahamas, she uses her vacation time and own funds to work with leaders at the South Bahamas Conference in church planting, community outreach projects, youth training, and reaching out to those in correctional facilities.
“The Lord puts elastic to my ministry,” said Farquharson, when she refers to how her money stretches as she preaches. She has not kept record of all the individuals who have joined the church through her evangelistic efforts, but it is in the several hundreds she believes.
She was the first Bahaman woman to be ordained as an elder back in 1985 and has been one outstanding lay leader among the 19,500 active laypeople in the region, bringing hundreds of new believers into the church, according to Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of the church in the Atlantic Caribbean Union.
With only four years of being a Seventh-day Adventist, Jose Puentes is all about letting God lead him in his ministry. He was among thousands of active laypeople to be chosen as the champion to represent north Colombia.
A former policeman, Puentes, age 26, coordinates citywide ministry programs such as “Jesus the Great Hope,” where more than 100 young people travel on buses throughout the city of Medellin to pray for people, offer Bible studies, and distribute literature. Puentes also ministers to the indigenous people in the jungles of northern Colombia and was inspired to continue his service during the event.
“It was a great honor to be here, to witness the unity of our church leaders within the different cultures in Inter-America,” said Puentes.
In addition to the 22 outstanding laypeople in Inter-America, long-active Seventh-day Adventists throughout each church region were honored.
Hadassa Henry Johnson of Jamaica, age 101, was the longest-standing Seventh-day Adventist featured, with 91 years since she was baptized. Following was Consuelo Cummings of South Central America, age 102, with 90 years of being an active church members, and Eligio Rosado of Puerto Rico, age 105, with 89 years in the church.
—Reported by Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division