Seventh-day Adventists throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) called for an end to violence during the recent “enditnow” campaign, an annual global initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It aims to mobilize church members around the world and invites other community groups to join in to resolve this worldwide issue.
Thousands marched the streets on August 27, 2022, in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Venezuela to take a stand against violence against women and children.
For more than a decade, church members across the IAD have been bringing awareness and engaging members to resolve the prevalent issue of the violence infiltrating society, not only in communities but in the church as well, Edith Ruiz de Espinoza, IAD women’s ministries director, said.
This year, women’s ministries leaders focused on highlighting “abuse of power,” which can be difficult to address and not usually spoken about at church, Espinoza said. “Excessive or improper use of authority, which can include lack of empathy, coercion, neglecting others, and manipulation of one’s needs is defined as abuse of power,” she said. “Detecting abuse of power could be seen when others do not respect your boundaries or beliefs, when there’s humiliation, extortion, or intimidation.” As Christians, it’s important to say something or speak to someone when abuse is seen or felt, she said.
In Local Adventist Churches
Thousands gathered at hundreds of churches in the East Venezuela Union of the Adventist Church to gather for a week of enditnow meetings, seminars, and community impact activities, August 20-27. “We spoke on relevant messages, which included how to recognize and prevent child abuse and violence in the marriage,” Raquel Medina de Paredes, women’s ministries director for East Venezuela Union, said. “We wanted to focus on holding marches and reaching out as a collective group and in a personal way in more vulnerable communities.”
The week featured radio programs on identifying and preventing abuse of power as well as the distribution of literature on abuse and highlighting presentations and messages through social media platforms.
“We are living in a world full of fear and mistreatment, and we want there to be peace in the home, in our churches, and, above all, in our lives,” Reina Longart, women’s ministries director in the Southeast Venezuela Conference, said. The radio programs that were aired explaining the existing mistreatment, whether physical, psychological, and emotional, were a big hit, she added. “This is the time to love more, to understand that our homes should be a little piece of heaven on earth.”
On the Streets
In Chiapas, Mexico, hundreds of women took to the streets not only with signs and posters on ending violence but also carrying bags of food and literature to distribute in the community. Women visited the sick in hospitals, brought gifts, and sang and prayed with them. The day’s impact under the enditnow theme saw Adventists also distributing water, meals, and clothing. They also prayed with onlookers and offered free medical check-ups to low-income families in dozens of communities.
“It’s a great joy to see so many of our members involved in this important initiative to reach so many women and children who need assistance in facing abuse and encouraging them to put a stop to violence,” Laura Minelly Ruiz, women’s ministries director of the Chiapas Mexican Union, said.
Guatemala also saw hundreds of members young and old spreading the enditnow message across each of the eight conferences and missions operated by the church.
“Each year the statistics on violence against women and children are very alarming,” Lety Martínez, women’s ministries director of the Guatemala Union, said. “There’s an average of 27 homicides for each 100,000 inhabitants in Guatemala, according to a recent national report.” She added, “It’s alarming that Guatemala recorded a total of 652 femicides, which is 28 percent higher than in 2020. It was important to continue spreading awareness as a church throughout our country.”
Adventist churches held seminars and special programs on how to identify and prevent abuse, and how to look for help and support.
Church-operated radio stations across Costa Rica and Nicaragua also aired programs on ending violence.
In the Communities
Church members in the Caribbean islands marched in the streets against domestic violence and abuse of any form. St. Vincent and the Grenadines members marched and held a rally. They spoke on the church’s commitment to advocating for an end to violence against women and children — and not just during the annual enditnow campaign. In Antigua, Pathfinders marched through the main streets against violence of all forms, bearing signs and posters.
Jamaica saw hundreds of Master Guides and youth leaders in the streets to raise awareness in support of enditnow.
Church members joined the uniformed group of Master Guides in Mandeville, Manchester, marching from the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church to the town center, distributing literature to motorists and those they passed along the way.
“We are here to say no to abuse in all its forms through enditnow,” Dane Fletcher, youth ministries director of the Jamaica Union, said. It’s time to end abuse of power, spousal abuse, and abuse of women and children, he said. “With your efforts to end violence, together we will create a more peaceful society. Let us unite, and enditnow.”
Steven’s Rosado, Yosainy Osaya, Gustavo Menendez, and Ruth Ann Brown contributed to this report.
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.