She was preparing to be a high priestess for Satan.
She hated Seventh-day Adventist evangelist John Lomacang.
Every time Lomacang appeared on 3ABN television in her home in South Africa, she asked her daughter to switch off the television or change the channel.
A few days ago, she felt an urge to go to the Croydon Seventh-day Adventist Church in London, her new home. She didn’t realize that the church was one of 11 London sites holding a two-week evangelistic series organized by 3ABN in partnership with the local Adventist Church.
“To her amazement, she saw Pastor Lomacang preaching on the power of prayer,” said Emmanuel Osei, acting president of the church’s South England Conference, whose territory includes London. “Only God could’ve led her because this wasn’t planned.”
The woman, who was once deep in the occult, is among dozens of people whose lives have been affected through the Sept. 3-17 evangelistic series titled, “The Right Time, The Right Message,” organizers said. A total of 87 people were baptized during the meetings, and several hundred others are taking Bible studies in preparation for baptism.
Britain and the rest of Europe are among the most challenging places in the world to share the Adventist message. Overall church attendance is low, and the largely secular society shows little interest in spiritual matters. The Adventist Church’s Trans-European Division, comprised of 22 European countries including Britain, has only 85,000 members, the smallest membership of any of the church’s 13 divisions.
The evangelistic series, 3ABN’s first major international event in about a decade, might have yielded significantly more baptisms if it had been held in some other country, said Danny Shelton, president and CEO of 3ABN.
But he and other 3ABN leaders said they believed that God had led them to London for a reason.
“God is not done with London yet,” said Lomacang, 3ABN’s director of world evangelism, who led the main evangelistic meeting at the Croydon church. “Seeds have been planted, and the wave of evangelism must not cease.”
The evangelistic meetings were well-attended at most of the 11 sites, although the crowds were sparser on several nights, said Osei, who visited all of the sites. He said the lower turnout might have been the result of some people deciding to watch from home after learning that the meetings were livestreamed online and with a two-day delay on 3ABN television.
“The number of visitors in some of our congregations was very encouraging,” he said. “This is because some churches made a concerted effort to do extensive preparatory work. This was coupled with the efforts of a Bible worker in each church.”
Local churches organized a series of health expos to reach out to their communities before the meetings began. Now church members are seeking to nurture and disciple those who were baptized and those who asked for Bible studies.
“Each church is engaging in follow-up to help consolidate those who have been recently baptized and to work with those who requested Bible studies,” Osei said. “Already baptismal dates have been set in some churches.”
The occultist from South Africa sensed a deliverance and her burden lifted as she listened to Lomacang speak at the evangelistic meeting, church leaders said. She returned to the meetings night after night. Then she and her husband responded to a call to surrender their lives to Christ.
“The Croydon church will work with them for the future that God has in store for them,” Lomacang told the Adventist Review. “She told me, ‘I now know that it was not you I did not like. It was your message about Jesus. I am glad that we met and the Lord used you to lead me to Christ.’”
Lomacang said nothing thrills him more than seeing people surrender to Jesus.
“There were people who made decisions for baptism who seemed as though they were waiting for us to come to London specifically for them,” he said.
One of them, a young woman, came to his church on the night that he preached about the biblical seventh-day Sabbath. She accepted the message and was baptized last Sabbath.
“What’s interesting is she is the daughter of the pastor of a Sunday church,” Lomacang said. “She was baptized without her parents knowing of her decision.”
Another person who was baptized, an elderly man, sought to attend the meetings after finding himself hospitalized beside a church member. The man saw Croydon church pastor Richard Daly and church elders visit the Adventist believer in the other bed and, seeing the positive results of their prayers, said, “Whatever he has, I want some of that,” Lomacang said.
Daly started to study the Bible with the man. But when the evangelistic series began, a health issue forced the man back to the hospital and he could not attend the meetings. The man began to pray that he would be released in time for baptism last Sabbath.
“God worked it out, and he was released and baptized in the first wave of precious souls,” Lomacang said. “Advanced in years, he made his way to the pool and was baptized. It is never too late to come to Christ.”
Across the city at the Stoke Newington Church, a Pentecostal pastor made his first visit to an Adventist church on the night that Shelley Quinn, 3ABN program development manager, spoke on the topic of tithing.
“He attended under protest because he had forbidden his church members from entering any Adventist church,” Quinn said.
After the meeting, he announced he had learned something new and was firmly convinced by Scripture that God’s system of tithing was still in force.
“He said he had been in error all his life, teaching that tithing was not for New Testament believers,” Quinn said.
He attended several more meetings.
At the same church, a young man told Quinn on the first night that he had just completed reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
“He was hungry to understand truth — a true seeker,” Quinn said. “He discovered the meetings online, while looking for something else.”
At the end of each evening meeting, Quinn announced the topic for the next day. Several times the young man expressed an opinion that was contrary to the upcoming presentation. For example, he had been sprinkled as an infant and thought baptism by immersion was unnecessary.
“But the next evening after hearing the teaching on baptism, he became firmly convinced of Bible truth,” Quinn said. “He attended every meeting and was baptized at the end of the campaign.”
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A remarkable story about a saved life and a saved marriage emerged from the Walthomstow church.
A carpenter named Ricardo expressed interest in being baptized when speaker John Dinzey made his first appeal near the start of the meetings. But Ricardo said he wanted to be baptized in another Adventist church where he had been hired to build a baptismal tank six years earlier.
“When he was building the baptistery, a female member of the church asked him if he also was a member,” Dinzey said. “When he said no, she suggested that he should be baptized in the baptistery that he was building. He said, ‘No. I’m not ready for that.’”
Ricardo took his stand for Jesus during the meetings and was baptized last Sabbath in the baptismal pool that he had built in the Clapton church.
But that’s not all.
As Ricardo gave his heart to Jesus, he was in the painful process of divorcing his wife, Dinzey said. Before his baptism, however, he wanted to make sure he was right with God, so he decided to apologize to his wife for the way he had behaved and to seek her forgiveness.
“He tried to reach her by phone, but he was blocked from calling her,” Dinzey said. “He then sent her a message on Facebook: ‘Please call me. I would like to talk with you.”
His estranged wife thought he wanted to pressure her to hurry up with the divorce paperwork. When she called him, she blurted out: “Don't worry. I’m already getting the paperwork ready,” according to an account shared by Dinzey.
Ricardo said, “No, no, please wait.”
Then he asked for forgiveness.
“I’m giving my life to the Lord,” he told her. “I’m getting baptized. I want your forgiveness. I also want to know if you want to get back together.”
His wife began to weep.
“I’ve been praying for this,” she said.
The couple reconciled.
“After his baptism, he and his wife were going to take a second honeymoon,” Dinzey said.
The stories will continue to unfold for many months — not only from guests but also from local church members who were reinvigorated by the meetings, organizers said.
“Some congregations that had not held an evangelistic campaign for many years are now excited to see what God has done in their churches,” Osei said. “There is a determination to continue the evangelistic fervor.”
This is encouraging because the sole purpose of the Adventist Church’s existence is evangelism, he said.
“Members learned that once they have experienced and participated in evangelism, one can never be the same,” he said.