Hundreds of religious leaders of an important Christian denomination are flocking to the Seventh-day Adventist Church to study the Bible in an African country, and in turn, are becoming missionaries, thanks to the ministry of Adventist World Radio in the area.
In a recent letter, the Adventist president in the region shared how an area traditionally difficult for evangelism has experienced a turnaround as never imagined.
“We tried for decades to share our faith with these Christians, but we did not get anywhere,” confessed the president, whose name is not disclosed for security reasons. “Many times, they ran us out of town, and our safety was at risk.” In that area, close to 90 percent of the people belong to a major Christian denomination, which can be traced back for centuries.
The president was glad to report, however, that the hardships of the past are now history, as many religious leaders in the area are showing an increasing interest in learning about Adventist beliefs and, in many cases, are joining the church. He also shared some impressive statistics.
We tried for decades to share our faith with these Christians, but we did not get anywhere.
“In 2015, 128 of these leaders joined the [Adventist] Church,” he wrote. “In 2016, we baptized 98 more, and another 120 are currently ready to join our church”.
The current biggest challenge the church faces in the area is how to nurture the new converts and reach new ones, as they are scattered across a vast territory, in one of the poorest areas in that African nation.
“Adventism was born in that part of the country, but it stalled literally for decades,” said a native of the area who has lived for decades in the United States and has been supporting evangelistic and educational projects in the region. This Seventh-day Adventist lay member has raised funds for purchasing Bibles and books by Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the church.
Still, church officials were looking for ways of sharing the Adventist message more effectively, something they found in the ministry of AWR.
“The best way we have found to reach and stay connected [with recent converts and interests] is through Adventist World Radio,” wrote the church president. He went on to explain that baptized religious leaders from this denomination have become evangelists and that they are sharing the Adventist message wherever they are.
The best way we have found to stay connected is through AWR.
AWR recently funded an initial distribution of 300 radios for the region with pre-recorded programs on integrated memory cards. “This technology is very effective for these people,” wrote the president. “It is convenient, practical, and powerful.”
The new converts and interests are now able to take the radios and memory cards with them and listen to contents provided by the regional church office.
Meanwhile, in the same area, another group of leaders recently made their way to the regional church office to spend a week getting Bible studies and preparing for baptism, reported Greg Scott, AWR senior vice president. Another 50 are scheduled to attend every two weeks for additional training.
It is a far cry from the hardships endured by the first Adventist missionaries in the area.
“I wish our pioneers, who were persecuted by the ancestors of these religious leaders, could witness this development,” wrote the regional church president. “We praise the Lord for it.”
by Marcos Paseggi, Senior Correspondent, Adventist Review