According to the latest reports, more than 34,000 people have been baptized through virtual evangelism across five English-speaking countries in the East Central-Africa Division (ECD). This number is the result of evangelistic efforts conducted through Adventist media in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
In the initial planning, the division had mobilized church-owned media for this mission initiative. Before long, however, leaders realized that they weren’t up to the task because of logistic and financial constraints. Financial challenges prevented them from covering extensive territories or having enough internet connection to livestream the message. By faith, the steering committee extended invitations to non-Adventist media in the region. Many of them joined the campaign without charging for it.
In his report, Joel Okindoh, ECD evangelism coordinator, said he was amazed at what the Lord did. “I appreciate the commitment of everyone who played a role in inviting people to read, listen, or watch salvation messages,” Okindoh said. “Above all, I praised God for leading the division to this new method of evangelism during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Although English was the primary language, the message was translated into various dialects to reach as many people as possible. The theme of the campaign was “More Than Conquerors.” Speakers were the ECD executive secretary, Alain Coralie, and his wife, Caroline.
Commenting on the series theme, Coralie quoted 1 Corinthians 9: 6, where Paul reminded the Romans who they were in Christ. “We must rise above the challenges of this life and the limitations that the world is trying to put on us,” Coralie said. “I urge everybody to find their identity in Christ, who enables His children to be overcomers.”
According to Coralie, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped shake God’s people from their spiritual lethargy, inviting them to get involved in preaching the gospel. In this context, Coralie said, “the media are the best tool of the hour.”
Speaking of nurture and retention of new members, Coralie reminded listeners of the division motto: “Win one, and lose none.” “Baptism is not the final goal; our call is to make disciples, true followers of Christ,” he emphasized as he invited every local church to ground the new believers in Christ through serious Bible studies and active service.
In the past five years, ECD has grown exponentially, crossing the mark of 4.5 million members. ECD president Blasious Ruguri called it “a miracle from God,” saying he attributes such growth to following Christ’s method of meeting people’s needs. “I have seen that church members are thirsty for serving others,” he said.
According to Ruguri, church members have worked together with their leaders to meet needs. “Our church members and our institutions touched the real needs of the people by distributing food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, goats and cows to the community; and they paid compassionate visits to patients in hospitals,” Ruguri said. “We allowed God to lead us, and the results surprised not only the world but ourselves as well.”
ECD leaders decided to leverage media opportunities for evangelism at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it became apparent that physical gatherings were becoming impossible. The first evangelistic series was conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other French-speaking countries. Leaders reported that in the end, more than 30,000 were baptized.