A new social messaging tool was recently launched at the pastors’ symposium in Kabiufa, Papua New Guinea, that has the potential to reach thousands of people, Adventist Church leaders said.
Known as Hope VA, the new virtual assistant gives free Bible studies and health lessons in a conversational format through the social media platform WhatsApp.
“Hope VA can reach the population like never before!” Danny Philip, discipleship director for the South Pacific Division (SPD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said at the launch. The launching event took place in mid-July at Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School, with more than 2,000 pastors in attendance.
Adventist pastors were shown how simple it is to start a conversation with Hope and how easy it is to share her with others. There was a clear sense of the enormous potential the tool offers to connect tens of thousands of people with eternal hope and better health.
According to Matt Atcheson, from the Adventist Technology ministry of the SPD, “We are called to be fishers of men, and Hope is a new type of fishing net! She is not here to replace the work pastors and members are doing, but to support it.”
Nick Kross, a driver of the World Changers project, shared how Hope VA studies are based on World Changers themes, and stated, “We fully endorse Hope VA!”
With the nationwide evangelism initiative “PNG [Papua New Guinea] for Christ” happening in April 2024, Hope is seen as a powerful tool that church members can share to reach thousands across PNG in the coming months. Contributing to the preparation, sowing, and cultivating of disciples, Hope will also be instrumental in helping churches with the follow-up of countless people who attend PNG for Christ, both individually and in groups.
“We see this tool helping us to reach many people we could otherwise not reach — she will help us in areas where we do not yet have pastors,” Papua New Guinea Union Mission president Malachi Yani said.
“In time, as we expand the available studies, Hope will be able to take people from first contact, lead them to receive the gospel in their own homes, and take them through all that we believe,” Russ Willcocks, from Adventist Technology, said. “Her primary objective is to bring people to Jesus and connect them to the local church who can then continue to nurture contacts within the community.”
Hope will also become instrumental in providing free health education to people across the nation. “Commit her number to memory,” SPD president Glenn Townend said. “Share her wherever you go and teach your members to do the same. Together we can share Hope with every person in PNG!”
Townend and Yani led the gathering in prayer over the Hope VA project, the support teams, and pastors, before declaring, “Hope VA is officially launched!”
Hope VA is a collaborative project that brings together many parts of the Adventist Church for mission. Built on technology developed at Hope Channel Brazil, the project brings together the SPD Ministry and Strategy team (project funding and oversight), Adventist Technology (technology, Bible course content), Hope Channel (guide team), 10,000 Toes Campaign (health content, teams) and the Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea (ownership, administration, guide team, pastors, members). In time it is hoped that Hope VA will also be rolled out across other parts of the South Pacific.