May 23, 2019

In Cyprus, Baptisms Highlight Adventist Church Cohesion and Fellowship

Marica Mirilov, Trans-European Division, and Adventist Review

In Cyprus, Limassol has what many consider a glorious beach. Most people go there to sunbathe or swim, but for more than 150 participants at a Day of Fellowship on May 11, 2019, their visit was to witness the baptism of five new church members.

Every one of the candidates had a story to tell.

Take Wilma, for instance. She shared how God miraculously preserved her life as a newborn baby, and about the role of her roommate in her life when passionately telling her about the salvation Jesus offers. Ruth, on the other hand, said that on coming to Cyprus, she wandered far away from God. She was tempted in many different ways, but God in His mercy called her back home.

The three other candidates also spoke about their journey to God. Newly married Elizabeth testified how God used the preaching of a lay pastor to impress her heart toward Bible truth and the love of Jesus. Eftim, on the other hand, spoke emotionally about how, while reading the Word of God, he felt God tapping on his shoulder and waiting for his response. And Ignati shared how, against all odds but with the help of God, he had gotten married the previous day. He said after making one life commitment, he was equally ready to make another one for eternity.

Coming from different cultural backgrounds and speaking different languages, these individuals represent both the local and international family that provide a warm welcome at any Adventist congregation in Cyprus. It is a warmth demonstrated by the fact that while there are just one hundred members on the church books in Cyprus, more than 150 people came to witness the baptismal ceremony, making it the largest gathering to date of the church on an island with a population of just over one million.

According to organizers, the seafront hotel chosen was the perfect venue for the Limassol congregation to host the day of fellowship for the church communities from Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos, Mitsero, and Limassol. The tone was set for worship early in the day with a welcome by church member Thimios Arsiotis. He shared his personal experience of searching for God and committing his life to Him in baptism six years earlier.

Cyprus region Adventist Church president Branislav Mirilov introduced the Adventist Volunteer Service (AVS) couples who work on the island. They include a new couple, Melina and Elias Orlando Eim, from Argentina, who serve in Larnaca, and a new addition to Kseniia and Bogdan Osadchuk’s family with their newborn baby, Danil. The Osadchucks hail from Ukraine and have been serving in Paphos for more than a year.

Mirilov then addressed the congregation with a challenging message. “Enter through the narrow gate, and travel the narrow way!” he said, quoting the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13, 14.

As church members listened attentively to both the sermon and the baptismal testimonies, many said they could match their personal experience with the inspirational testimonies.

Organizers and local church leaders highlighted the significance of the moment.

“The baptism that climaxed the day in the calm Mediterranean Sea marked a new beginning for five new members, and for others [cemented] a firm decision to follow their example at the next scheduled opportunity,” they said.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.