April 24, 2024

Three Generations of One Family among “Journey to Joy” Accessions in St. Croix

It began with one daughter taking Bible studies and spread to 12 others in the family.

Royston Philbert and Inter-American Division News
Ainsworth Keith Morris (center), evangelist at the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church during the island-wide “Journey to Joy” evangelistic series in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, introduces the three generations of the Rodríguez family and other baptismal candidates before they are baptized on April 6. Thirteen members of the Rodríguez family made their decision to get baptized after Bible studies with Bible worker Joseph Sommers. [Photo: Eustace Browne]

The Seventh-day Adventist community in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, welcomed dozens of new members on April 6, at the end of the first week of a two-week evangelism initiative taking place across the island. Among them were 13 members of a family that encompasses three generations, organizers said.

The in-person “Journey to Joy” evangelistic series, a joint effort of the General Conference Treasury team, the Caribbean Union Conference, the North Caribbean Conference, and other partners, included four guest speakers at four venues, a free health clinic, and social initiatives. Through the united multilingual ministry of pastors, prayer intercessors, Bible workers, and musicians, dozens of people joined the church through baptism at the end of the first week.

After seven Bible-based presentations from Ainsworth Keith Morris at the Central Adventist church in Fred, the Rodríguez family were among those who chose to follow Jesus and were baptized at the beach. “I saw them every night,” Morris said. “They would come and sit together. The fact that they have all given their lives to Jesus attests that the Holy Spirit speaks to families. I am excited about the connectedness of the church to embrace all the members of the family — it’s fantastic!” Morris added.

As one of the Bible workers connected to the Central church, Joseph Sommers is well acquainted with the Rodríguez family. He is elated that so many family members found joy. Among them are a grandmother, daughter, and 11 grandchildren. “It was love-evangelism in action,” Sommers said. “It is such a pleasure to see them take their stand for God.”

The Adventist Church strives to rebuild spiritual lives within homes, he added. “In this case, it was not easy. They had some bad experiences, but I used love evangelism during our interactions. With all the challenges we were facing, the Holy Spirit placed it in me, and I offered to prepare meals for them during the Easter season.” Sommers said he went shopping and prepared the best meal possible. “That did it,” he said. “They all ate, and the occasion created a tremendous bond between us all. They call me Big Brother now.”

Sommers, who has roots in Jamaica, has 34 years of experience as a Bible worker and currently serves in that capacity at an Adventist church in the Florida Conference in the United States. Sommers and Wynfield Ambrose, associate pastor of the Central and Hope Adventist congregations, shared the joy of the Rodríguez family.

“Weeks before the evangelistic campaigns started, Bible workers began to visit hundreds of persons who had expressed an interest in studying the Bible before baptism,” Ambrose said. “Many of them were invited to attend the services. The Rodríguez family was among more than 130 persons who attended the opening session of the series.”

In response to Ambrose’s sermon, Ackima Rodríguez, a daughter of the family, explained, “It touched me, and I accepted the invitation to attend the local church the next Sabbath [Saturday]. The Holy Spirit was leading again as Elder Sommers was the speaker at the local Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church. At the appeal, I responded and accepted the call for Bible studies at home. I think it was really interesting hearing the preacher. As I listened to the sermons, I understood and knew that it was time to give my life to Jesus.”

Ambrose also shared that some who attended “had to be accommodated with additional items for church, but the team members willingly reached out and purchased items of clothing so that they could be at the services,” he said. “There is no better way to bring joy to the heart than to see the joy on the faces of the entire family during the baptism on Sabbath. There are two more to be baptized, and we are looking forward to seeing them take their stand soon.”

The island-wide April 2024 evangelistic campaign crowned a series of outreach and missionary activities across St. Croix. During the first quarter of 2024, church leaders and members redoubled their efforts to spread the gospel through various community impact activities.

On Global Youth Day 2024, March 16, Adventurers, Pathfinders, and Master Guides covered communities with prayer and shared tangible expressions of love. In preparation for Impact ’24 “Journey to Joy,” children, adolescents, youth, and adults embraced their neighborhoods and communities, leaders said. “Now God has responded by adding scores of members to the church,” they said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.