The first Seventh-day Adventist church has opened on the campus of a public university in Colombia thanks to the vision of two students who formed a group called “Friends of Jesus” at the entrance of the university’s museum in 2010.
The 27 members of the new Adventist church gathered inside the University of Antioquia’s museum for inaugural Sabbath worship services this month.
Johnathan Gallego, youth pastor for the district, called the church a unique “beacon of light in a place where so much thought, even atheism and other beliefs, are prevalent.”
“Allowing us to have a congregation of young people who can preach to other young people has never been seen before in a state that claims to be secular but has great Catholic influence,” Gallego said.
He said the church’s student members would have the opportunity to “provide this university the hope of Jesus Christ through the Adventist message.”
Back in 2010, the “Friends of Jesus” group met at the museum’s entrance every Friday evening at sunset for vespers worship in an effort to find other Adventists enrolled in the university. The group grew and in 2012 had 18 members. Today the university church’s 27 members include currently enrolled students and former students.
What makes this church so special, besides its location within the university, is its missionary spirit and evangelistic strategies to reach an audience with high intellect but also common needs, Gallego said.
Some of the evangelistic plans include holding a symposium on creationism with Adventist speakers, said Gustavo Esteban, pastor of the university church.
He added, “We will continue with our music ministry where we visit students who have problems, pray with them, sing to encourage them and invite them to be part of our church.”
The church also will pursue weeks of evangelism and an ongoing “We Pray for You” initiative where church members take their guitars to different parts of the campus to sing, pray, and distribute literature.
“The principal objective is to make the university a university for God,” Esteban said.
The University of Antioquia, or Universidad de Antioquia, has been open to the Adventist students’ activities, said David Perez, an astronomy student.
“So from the start of the small group, Adventist young people have met freely and the university has been very accommodating when the group needs a room or a more comfortable place for meetings,” he said.
Plans are being drawn up build a permanent church building. In the meantime, students meet in a room at the museum or outdoors on campus.
Founded in 1803, the University of Antioquia is the leading academic institution in the northern State of Antioquia and has more than 36,000 students. This year, the Education Ministry ranked it No. 6 among the top 20 universities in Colombia.
Jochebed Bohorquez, a health administration student, said the organization of the new church, which opened on Aug. 8, means more opportunities to reach more people.
“As young people, we must continue being a good example because God has prepared great things for the university and the church,” Johorquez said.