Encouraged and empowered, thousands of care group members from the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church joined the Care Group Virtual Congress on May 13-14, 2022. Online delegates from the 14 countries which comprise that church region attended the meeting via various social media platforms, which added up to thousands of viewers.
“Through the work of the Holy Spirit, every single person in our care groups, in our departments, in our churches, is empowered to be caring Christians,” Roger Caderma said. Caderna, a vice-president of SSD for nurture, discipleship, and reclamation, is director of the Integrated Evangelism Lifestyle initiative.
Delegates of this virtual congress witnessed a diverse musical song service and encouraging messages on care group ministries.
The SSD has 21,264 registered care groups. These care groups have been instrumental in various church initiatives, particularly in the recent evangelistic endeavors in Mindoro, Philippines. There, former rebel groups surrendered their lives in baptism after consistent and faithful communication and development of care relationships.
SSD president Saw Samuel delivered the message for the congress’s vesper service. He reminded all delegates that the church was organized for service and that the mission is to carry the gospel to the world.
“It doesn’t matter where we are coming from; what matters the most is that we are called by grace and be part of God’s salvation, God’s plan of redemption, and to be a source of instrument and a source of blessings to others,” Samuel said.
Care Groups in Action
Success stories and testimonies from various countries within the division warmed up the audience for the Care Group Virtual Congress’s Saturday (Sabbath) morning meeting. Members of the Adventist Church have created timely, need-based ministries to attend to the communities’ wholistic needs. During the pandemic, some Adventist churches assisted hospitals in their respective areas by providing oxygen tanks for patients suffering from the pandemic. Others helped the government by distributing vaccines to communities that had not yet received them.
On the island of Mindoro, former rebels and minorities were encouraged to join small group meetings organized by members to have a regular fellowship. These meetings led to bigger community programs like mass weddings, social gatherings, health seminars, and eventually evangelistic meetings resulting in baptisms.
When Typhoon Odette hit the Philippines in 2021, members of some small groups, despite being affected themselves, spearheaded relief operations and partnered with several facets of the church and the government to distribute goods to highly affected areas in central and southern Philippines.
“The small group is the best way to win souls for Jesus,” SSD executive secretary Rudy Baloyo said. “It is within the context of care groups that church members will be nurtured and become active disciples of Jesus, doing ‘love in action’ ministry to the community both individually and corporately,” he said.
General Conference president Ted Wilson encouraged the congregation as he preached during the main worship service. Wilson based his message on Isaiah 6, where the prophet answered God’s call and said, “I will go, God!”
“Are you willing to go?” Wilson asked. “The Lord is calling you today in this very difficult and tough time. So many challenges we are facing, so much uncertainty for the unknown future, God is calling you to share with others the wonderful, good news that Christ has a way of escape,” he said.