Dozens of Seventh-day Adventist pastors from throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory recently joined local ministers across Costa Rica to preach the Word of God and visit the homes of thousands of members. The activity was part of an intense spiritual-revival training initiative that seeks to motivate church members to get involved in the mission of sharing the gospel.
Coined as the Holy Convocation in Communion and Mission this year, the initiative follows the mandate found in the Bible, in Joel 2:15-16, to call a sacred assembly, consecrate and receive the Holy Spirit to fulfill the mission, and prepare a people for the second coming of Jesus, organizers said.
The training is the fourth annual event organized by IAD’s stewardship ministries department to equip pastors to better understand stewardship principles and their role in strengthening revival and reformation for every member and family.
More than 120 pastors traveled from 18 of Inter-America’s major church regions, and from North America, and preached in 131 churches as well as visiting more than 4,770 Adventist families during the week of January 26 to February 2, 2019.
“We know that the church member is the most important element of the church organization, and thus we must meet their spiritual needs,” said Roberto Herrera, IAD stewardship ministries director and the main organizer of the Holy Convocation events. “Our working model shows that strengthening Christian stewardship in the church will drive members to fully engage in carrying out missionary projects and activities to spread the gospel.”
Faithful and Practical Christians
IAD president Elie Henry encouraged the pastors and church elders in the initiative to be faithful and practical Christians, believing in every word found in the Bible, as they shepherd congregations. “The Word of God is not like a buffet at a restaurant, where I take what I hunger for, or I only read what I need,” Henry said. “When I say I believe in the Word of God, I am assaying that I believe in the entire Bible and not only one part.”
Adventist evangelist Alejandro Bullón reminded church pastors that before they make disciples of others, they must become active followers of Jesus themselves. “Christianity is not philosophical; it is as practical for a Christian to eat, breathe, and walk. Eating is like studying the Bible, breathing is praying, and walking is leading one person to Christ.”
Communion and Mission Work Together
“Pastors must visit members and ensure their communion with God is growing,” said Melchor Ferreyra, IAD personal ministries director. “It’s about keeping a balance between spiritual revival or constant communion with God and the mission to get involved in reaching unbelievers. Mission is the result of the communion with God.” That mission commitment within members propels them to support the evangelism work of sharing the gift of the gospel.
Herrera said that previous convocations held in Bogotá, Colombia, Mexico City, and Puerto Rico, as well as regional training held since 2016, has shown a remarkable change in offering donations that have allowed for greater evangelism impact in furthering God’s work. “The more faithful the church member is, the more generous and involved he or she becomes in the mission of the church,” he said.
Impact in Costa Rica
South Central American Union president Wilfredo Ruiz said that the Holy Convocation initiative ignited church leaders and pastors to redouble their efforts in the churches.
“We have an opportunity to revive the church in times of so much secularism and spiritual apathy,” Ruiz said. Church members were invited to attend each evening to pray, worship, and learn about biblical stewardship principles.
Ruiz said that in the past, there has been little commitment from seasoned members or young people when it comes to evangelism. Seeing the commitment from pastors and church elders, however, has sparked a renewed dedication to the visitation ministry and a new motivation for church member involvement to fulfill the mission of the church.
“It has forever changed the church in Costa Rica,” said Jesús Miranda, head elder of La Esperanza Adventist Church in Alajuela. Miranda said he was amazed at how stewardship was taught every night by visiting speaker Victor Valles, executive secretary of the church in Puerto Rico, during the week, and the impact that home visitations had on the 90-member congregation.
For David Maldonado, personal ministries director for the church in the North Mexican Union, it was a successful week of ministering to and visiting the members of the Fátima Adventist Church in San Jose. “It was an extraordinary week, and it was plain to see that we must visit the brethren and shepherd the church,” said Maldonado. “The best that we can do is to pass on that passion for Christ, that communion with Him so that from there on, great things can take place in the church and the community.”
Ruiz said plans are moving forward for a regional Holy Convocation in Nicaragua, in which pastors and church elders in the country’s more than 280 congregations will minister and visit members. The event will take place March 16-23, 2019.
Church Member in the Center
“We don’t have an ongoing fund-raising program in our church,” Herrera said, “but our mission is to let members understand how stewardship works based on Bible principles, so we must put the member in the center of spiritual initiatives to motivate him or her to remain in spiritual revival and active in constant mission outreach.”
The Holy Convocation event in the Central American country also featured speakers including Ramón Canals, personal ministries director of the Adventist world church; Vladimir Polanco, editor at Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA); and Hermes Tavera of the Greater New York Conference in the United States. The initiative also focused on biblical stewardship principles geared toward young people and children.
The Adventist Church in Costa Rica held dozens of health expos across the country at the same time, as well as community outreach activities for children on some days before and after the initiative.
Tomas Saez contributed to this report.