A Romani people tent which doubled as an evangelistic center held a Seventh-day Adventist baptismal ceremony in northern Chile on April 15. The event crowned a special week of evangelism around Easter, a major celebration in many countries, including that South American nation.
Romani are a people group residing in countries throughout Europe and the Americas. It is said that the group’s origins are from the Indian subcontinent. A considerable amount of Romani live in Chile as well, at times leading semi-nomadic lifestyles, moving from one town to the other in tented communities.
Romani church members from the Coquimbo and Valparaíso area in Chile got actively involved in evangelistic activities during the “Rescue of Love” special week, from April 8 to 15. Local Seventh-day Adventists made the most of Easter Week—commonly known as “Holy Week” in some Christian countries—to share messages of hope and organize outreach activities across South America.
With the assistance of church members and Bible workers, a Romani couple who had been studying the Bible was baptized in a special ceremony organized under the Romani tent in the Chilean city of La Serena.
“I would like to thank every member involved in this evangelistic initiative,” said Demis Benavente, who pastors Central La Serena Seventh-day Adventist Church and baptized the Romani couple. “I thank also every member who has been praying to make this dream come true.”
The baptism by immersion took place in a tent pitched in a camp on the outskirts of La Serena, where a group of nomadic Romani people usually reside. Attending the ceremony were not only other Romani church members and guests but also several Adventist evangelists, including Juan Nicolich, a pioneer of the work to the Romani people in Chile.
“[We wish] that this baptism would trigger a revival of the Adventist ministry to the Romani people in the area,” said Nicolich. At the time of the altar call at the end of the ceremony, seven Romani guests walked down the aisle, expressing their desire to surrender their lives to God.
Making the Most of the Season
The one-of-a-kind tent baptism was just one of the many outreach and evangelistic activities organized by Adventist church members and leaders across Chile for Easter Week. For example, a massive tent was set up in the Ñuñoa section of the capital city of Santiago, a neighborhood with no Adventist presence. In it, community members have been offered health check-ups, as well as hairdressing and pedicure services in the days leading up to Easter Week.
“We believe God is calling the people who come to the tent through the services we provide,” said Daniel Recuenco, Adventist evangelism director in Santiago Central region. “Our goal is, by God’s grace, to plant a new church in the area.”
This year, religious meetings of reflection about the death of Jesus on the cross were assisted by the feature film “The Rescue,” a Seventh-day Adventist production shot in the Chilean Andes mountains and premiered across several South American nations last week. The film tells a story that encourages viewers to creatively and innovatively reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and His plan of salvation for humanity.
Coquimbo and Valparaíso evangelist Joao Fernandes, who attended the Romani couple baptism, encouraged members to keep the ministry to the Romani people and others in their prayers. “Keep praying for this ministry, so that by God’s grace, more people may get to know the message of salvation,” he said.