Hundreds of thousands of young people were joined by children and adults from across the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to share Jesus’ love and spread hope in their communities during Global Youth Day (GYD) on March 18.
This year’s GYD served as the launching pad for the distribution of copies of The Great Controversy, written by Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White, throughout the IAD territory. Nearly four million hard copies and digital download cards were distributed, church leaders said.
“Young people jumped right into sharing The Great Controversy in city streets, parks, hospitals, homes, businesses and through every community near them,” Al Powell, youth ministries director for the IAD, said. Engaging young people again this year in distributing the missionary book is crucial amid a world of chaos, including wars, disasters, hopelessness, and uncertainty, he said.
Impact in Mexico City
IAD leaders traveled to dozens of churches in Mexico City to preach and take part in the GYD activities.
“God has invited us to shine His light of truth freely, steadfast and with love to everyone we come in contact with,” IAD president Elie Henry said while speaking at Central Adventist church. “Today is your day to show the love of God, for many need it, and others want to hear about Jesus and your experience with Him.”
Henry encouraged members not only to share The Great Controversy but to study it diligently as disciples of Jesus, “for it contains the story of the past, the present, and the future and serves as the last great shout to this perishing world,” he said.
Soon after the worship service, Henry and hundreds of church members made their way to talk, pray, and distribute the book to dozens of people at the Monument to the Revolution Plaza. “It’s so impressive to see so many children and young people willing and excited about sharing the missionary book all around them,” Henry said.
Rosaisela Rincon was one who received the book at the Monument to the Revolution Park. She asked for a book dedication written for her son Oswaldo, who has served eight years of a 52-year prison sentence. “I’ve been getting close to God now, and my son has also been looking for God more each day,” she said. “He needs to have hope, and I thank you for sharing this with me.”
Senator Cristobal Arias Solis, of the state of Michoacan, which neighbors Mexico City, was among the recipients of the book. Solis praised the work of the young Adventists for spreading hope throughout the city. “Thank you for this initiative; I will personally take the time to read this book,” Arias said.
Praying with Store Owners
General Conference publishing ministries director Almir Marroni joined church members of the Satélite Adventist church in the metropolitan region. The group of 200 members distributed hundreds of books and special QR cards for digital downloads. “It was so wonderful to see young people all dressed up and the excitement of all members,” Marroni said. He distributed 30 books in 30 minutes to employees in several businesses.
Across the IAD, reports came in of nearly 4 million copies distributed, with members in Mexico alone distributing more than 1.9 million copies, IAD publishing ministries director Isaías Espinoza said.
Thanks to thousands of young people and other church members, who embraced the missionary book distribution project, 500,000 people received it in Mexico City alone, Espinoza said.
In Chiapas, Mexico, young and old members distributed 500,000 hard copies of the missionary book while taking part in marches, providing medical brigades, sharing vegetarian meals in parks, and distributing food baskets. Similarly, throughout southeastern Mexico, more than 52,000 church members distributed 286,000 books.
In Escarcega, Campeche, a group of young people played music on loudspeakers to onlookers and placed a free book dispenser where they could key in a few numbers and get a free gift. “We would tell the people who came close to us to punch in two numbers and once they received the book from the dispenser we would say ‘Jesus loves you, there is still hope,’ ” Argelia Cordero, youth ministries leader of the Carmen Adventist church in Campeche, said.
In the North Mexican Union territory, members distributed more than 275,000 books. Hundreds of Adventurer-age children, Pathfinders, and young people marched through the streets in Sinaloa as they carried their books and distributed them to onlookers.
Across Other IAD Territories
Two-hundred thousand copies of The Great Controversy were distributed throughout Guatemala through marches, in hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments, police stations, and schools, through community outreach activities, and in food baskets shared in several communities.
In El Salvador, young people distributed more than 63,000 copies of the book while visiting the sick in hospitals, in police department offices, in homes for the elderly, in orphanages, malls, needy communities, neighborhoods, and municipal offices, while others offered medical services during public medical brigades and cleaned streets, among other helping activities.
Hundreds of young people shared breakfast with the homeless early on Saturday (Sabbath) morning in Mayaguez, in the western part of Puerto Rico. They also visited police departments, distributed food baskets, and shared hundreds of missionary books on the streets as well as in businesses and nursing homes.
Hundreds of church members in Venezuela distributed thousands of missionary books while they marched through the main streets and plazas. In Bolivar State, more than 1,000 sandwiches and oatmeal cups were distributed during the early morning of March 18. Young people also marched and sang in the streets of San Felix to share messages of hope and distribute books.
In the Dominican Republic, thousands of young people took part in marches and distributed more than 80,000 missionary books. In Jamaica, thousands of missionary books were distributed throughout cities and communities. In the East Jamaica Conference, teachers from nearby schools were invited to worship and be recognized for their contribution to society and to be presented with certificates and gifts of appreciation.
In northern Colombia more than 90,000 missionary books were distributed in city streets, parks, businesses, and homes. In southern Colombia, young people distributed 10,000 copies of the book, visited drug rehabilitation homes and nursing homes, cleaned parks, fed the homeless, and marched through city streets across the region.
A group from the Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nassau, The Bahamas, shared hot breakfast with members of the community near Adventist churches.
“Young people understood that the missionary book was important and made an incredible difference in the lives of others,” Powell said.
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site. Uriel Castellanos, Víctor Martínez, Gustavo Menéndez, Fabricio Rivera, Daniela Arrieta, Nemuel Artiles, Steven’s Rosado, Nigel Coke, Laura Acosta, César Medina, and Yoel Lizardo contributed to this report.