November 25, 2020

Digital Evangelism Series in Jamaica Attracts Audiences on Three Continents

Phillip Castell, Inter-American Division News

More than 385 persons were baptized during the first-ever island-wide digital evangelism series led by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica.

Themed “Let’s Talk About Him,” the series focused on following Jesus and was broadcast from Kingston from October 3 to 24, 2020. According to church leaders, it was a collaborative effort of administrators, directors, and pastors of the union headquarters, conference, and churches on the island.

The online evangelism series involved prayer intercessors, singers, and musicians. It was driven by a talented and dedicated team of technical personnel who facilitated the broadcast across all social media and communication platforms in all five conferences. It included the church-owned and operated Northern Caribbean University (NCU) television and radio station. It was also broadcast live on Bless TV, a cable TV channel operated by a Seventh-day Adventist, which was able to further broadcast the series via another 13 cable stations.

The speaker for the series was Dane Fletcher. He delivered 26 Bible-based sermons amidst a curfew imposed by the government to curb the coronavirus spread. Leaders reported that the government granted an exemption to facilitate the series. Omar Oliphant was the co-evangelist and host of the series.

Fletcher, who is also youth, chaplaincy, and public campus ministries director for the Adventist Church in Jamaica, said the series proved to be challenging yet rewarding.

“The series brought me to a desperate place, where I really learned how to pray and depend on God,” Fletcher said. “I was keenly aware that while our primary target audience was Jamaica, persons connected from many other countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, Trinidad, and Tobago. It was, however, an unquenchable joy to learn that, because of the series, persons were getting baptized in many countries.”

Fletcher added that digital evangelism “might very well prove to be God’s tool to finish the preaching of the gospel in all the world so that the end comes.”

The impact of the online series was felt in the Apple Creek Adventist church in Markham, Ontario, Canada; the Perrine Adventist church in Palmetto Bay, Florida, United States; and the Stevenage church of the South England Conference in the United Kingdom, which were integrally involved, organizers said.

Sherice Beckford, who was baptized on October 24 at the Apple Creek church in Canada, made up her mind to follow Jesus after hearing about the digital evangelism series one day while watching West Jamaica Conference’s online service. She began watching the series on her laptop from the first day and said she found it very interesting.

“Every evening, I would turn on my laptop and be one of the first to wait for the service to start,” Beckford said as she shared details of her conversion in an interview after her baptism. “I think it was really interesting and fun. As I listened to the sermons, I understood and knew that it was time to give my life to Jesus.”

In his final address during the series, Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, signaled that the church would continue to use and even increase the use of online digital media to share the gospel, given the present circumstances.

“This is not the end but the beginning of a new paradigm in terms of how we do evangelism in the Jamaica Union Conference,” Brown said.

Paying keen attention to the retention of new members won for the kingdom of God through the series, Brown urged the church to take care of the new converts, which he said were valuable in the sight of God. “I want to encourage you to love them so that they will love their friends into the church, so that they too may surrender their lives to Jesus and follow Him,” he said.

Joseph Smith, assistant to the union president for evangelism and main coordinator of the series, encouraged the new believers to become grounded in the knowledge of Christ through prayer and study in the Word.

“Spend time in personal devotion in the morning by yourself, and if, where you are, there is a family, spend time in worship with your family too. Finding this new relationship with God is good, but you need to be anchored in Christ,” he said.

During the three weeks of the campaign, online nightly attendance for the livestream ranged between 8,000 and 10,000 viewers on YouTube and Facebook alone, with viewership increasing between 200 and 300 percent 72 hours after, Nigel Coke, communication director of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, reported. On Saturdays, the live online viewership registered between 14,000 and 16,000 viewers across all the platforms, with those numbers also increasing by more than 300 percent after three days. “This is in addition to persons watching NCU TV and radio, and other cable channels,” he said.

The series mobilized dozens of communicators across the island, who volunteered to ensure everything was in place for a smooth online experience, Coke added.

“With no one knowing when the challenges associated with COVID-19 will end, the [series] might be the blueprint for evangelism in Jamaica in the immediate future,” Coke said.

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