Adventists in St. Croix Celebrate Historic Results after Evangelistic Series

A total of 105 baptisms took place after the two-week island-wide campaign efforts.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
Adventists in St. Croix Celebrate Historic Results after Evangelistic Series
New believers, seasoned members, and church leaders sing and praise together during a special celebration program on April 13, which marked the end of the weeks-long evangelistic efforts in St. Croix that resulted in a historic 105 baptisms. [Photo: Curtis Henry]

Seventh-day Adventists in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, celebrated the culmination of the island-wide evangelistic efforts, titled “Impact 24: Journey to Joy.” The two-week series was held from March 30 to April 13, and led to more than 100 baptisms.

Hundreds crowded the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Frederiksted to sing, pray, and fellowship during the special closing ceremony on April 13.

The two-week evangelistic series featured guest evangelists and music ministry leaders from the United States who, every evening, sang and preached at four church locations, which represent the four main districts on the island.

“Many months ago, the idea was born in the heart of the General Conference Treasury — an idea that they thought it, we bought it, and God brought it,” Desmond James, president of the North Caribbean Conference, said. The conference office is located in St. Croix and oversees nine other Caribbean islands. “What a phenomenal thing God has brought. We can celebrate God’s amazing goodness,” he said. Leaders reported on the 105 baptisms across the island during the two weeks of meetings, a record number in such a short period of time.

“When we look at the 105 trophies of God’s amazing grace, what else can we ask for?” James said. He thanked Paul Douglas, General Conference treasurer, and his team for giving “this little island” the opportunity for partnership in mission.

Organized by the General Conference treasury leaders in coordination with the Inter-American Division, the Caribbean Union Conference, North Caribbean Conference, along with a Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) team of doctors and nurses, the comprehensive efforts sought to support the spreading of the gospel and provide services to the community.

The evening programs filled the Central, Bethel, Peter’s Rest, and Sunny Acres Adventist churches with hundreds of members and guests each night. It was historic to see 340 guests visiting every night across the four sites, something that has never occurred in the history of the conference, James said. The evangelism efforts were accomplished thanks to the vision of church leaders and the arduous ministry of pastors, more than a dozen Bible instructors, and church members on the island and abroad who dedicated their talents and energies to the work, he said.

Renewed Vigor and Determination

“Our success does not rest on the shoulders of one individual, but you know it was an eloquent testimony of what God’s people can do and can become when we all unite together as one,” James said. “Each of us brought our own individual talents and personalities and perspectives and energies to the table, creating a harmonious symphony driven by purpose and passion.”

James challenged local leaders to take the watershed experience and develop a new paradigm in evangelism throughout the conference territory. He encouraged leaders and members to carry the spirit of Impact 24 with renewed vigor and determination. “Let us with our lips and lifestyle spread the joy, the love and kindness in everything we do and with all whom we meet,” he said.

James thanked the General Conference team of 34 and the LLUH team of 19 who cleaned, painted, ministered to young people, and provided medical services to hundreds during the last week of the evangelistic impact activities.

More than a dozen local pastors and 16 Bible instructors were part of the arduous work of knocking on doors, offering prayers, and Bible studies as well as inviting people to the evening series.

Dozens were baptized at various beach locations as the series ended.

A Wedding Ceremony and a Baptism

Navence James, who married Abigail Joseph during a short wedding ceremony at the Sabbath (Saturday) morning service at Peter’s Rest Adventist church, said it was the best day of his life to do things right and follow Jesus again. Navence and Abigail were baptized soon after the church service, along with six other believers at Lagoon Beach near the church.

“First I want to say, ‘the devil is a liar,” Navence said. “I’ve been going through a lot in my life, and I’ve gone very far and come very close to death many times. But God knows that I am His child.” He shared that he used to go to church a long time ago. “You know the devil pull you and give you doubts … but something told me to come back, and God brought me back home,” he said. “I am here tonight to give Him the glory, honor, and the praise for bringing me here tonight and sealing the deal with Him.”

Thanks to the work of his aunt, Rose Joseph, who is head deaconess at the Christiansted Adventist church, and Earl Esdaile, pastor of the Peter’s Rest and Christiansted Adventist church district, Navence and his wife received Bible studies, attended the evening series, and made the decision to get baptized. Both shared in their moment with their young daughter and son.

“You were the prodigal son, but now you are back to Jesus,” Esdaile affirmed. “What are you determined to do?” he asked Navence.

“My determination is to serve the Lord,” Navence said as amens and applause filled the church.

Focused on Jesus

Candice O’Reily, who was baptized on April 6, spoke during the program and praised God for the six-month journey of studying the Bible with Maurie Andrews, a retired pastor who led her and her fiancé, Richard Matthews, to make the decision for baptism. “Sometimes I wanted to give up, but I prayed to God to keep me focused,” O’Reily said.

For Navence James, Candice O’Reily, and dozens of other new believers, Douglas had a spiritual message as he reflected on John 16:33. He encouraged new believers to keep relying on God amid their daily struggles and challenges as they embark on a new journey of joy for the second coming of Jesus.

“In this world, you will have trouble … great tribulation, but be of good courage,” Douglas quoted from John 16:33. “But [Jesus says] I have overcome the world.”

Douglas praised God for leaders, members, and guest evangelists who were engaged in the proclamation of God’s word during the Journey to Joy evangelism series, the chains that have been broken, the victories that have been won, and for those who accepted the free gift of salvation and have joined the journey still left to tread.

United Collaborative Efforts

“When we received the call, we realized that there’s very few things in our lifetime that unifies a church, and that is in service,” said Edgar Drachenberg, director of Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) at the Loma Linda University Health Global Health Institute. “When a church provides service to the community, they come from around the different parts of the world, doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you come from, God can use our skills in every way.”

On behalf of the Inter-American Division, treasurer Ivelisse Herrera, thanked the GC Treasury team for blessing the North Caribbean Conference and impacting St. Croix with the power of the gospel. “The seed has been planted now, and we will keep on seeing results here as a result of the efforts here.” It’s all about mobilizing resources to fulfill the mission of the church as Paul Douglas has emphasized, she said. “All of you have come from far and have offered yourselves as an offering to the Lord, and we in the IAD appreciate and thank you,” Herrera said.

Bertie Henry, treasurer of the Caribbean Union, thanked all those present for the impact each made during the evangelistic and community service impact. “You really can’t measure the impact that has been made here. We hardly know the depth and breadth of this impact, so we thank you … for the arduous work you did,” Henry said.

The community impact throughout the two-week evangelistic series also included activities led by the GC Treasury team, including Vacation Bible School, a youth dialogue session, a youth march, and a rally throughout the community, as well as chapel talks and mural paintings at St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School. Mission impact activities also included beautifying the multipurpose center, soccer field, and basketball court at the Central Adventist church grounds.

“When we are united in mission, we’re going to finish the work so we can go home,” Pierre concluded.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division