March 23, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
As recent social distancing measures become the new norm around the globe, leaders and staff of the Inter-American Division (IAD) met online for a devotion and prayer time this morning. The special video conference highlighted the promises found in Isaiah chapters 24 and 26 and the importance of prayer as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world.
IAD President President Pastor Elie Henry encouraged administrators and staff to continue their daily prayers for the world from their homes.
“This is our new reality to work from home,” said Pastor Henry. “We need to keep praying, because God is the only one that can help us move forward.” Pastor Henry shared that there are many pressing challenges with the myriad of organizations within the IAD territory.
“Many of members do not know how long they can financially support themselves past two weeks of not working,” he said. “We must fervertly pray to God to have mercy on His people so that they can continue moving forward trusting in the midst of ‘this storm’ and strengthening them to keep trusting God who is in control.”
The worship service became the 220th video conference meeting held since Mar. 16 across the IAD with its zoom account, reported Osman Longa, telecommunications director for the church in Inter-America. “We have had some 210,596 meeting minutes with nearly 6,000 participants in just one week,” said Longa. He expects the number to increase significantly in the weeks to come as church administrators, leaders and educators schedule more video conference meetings. “This is our best option now as we follow government recommendations to pracice social distancing while at the same time continue to work in fulfilling the mission of the church,” said Longa.
During one of those meetings last week, after the decision took place to postpone the church’s General Conference Session scheduled to be for May of 2021 instead of this year in June, Pastor Henry spoke to his departmental leaders during a IAD Committee online meeting on changes and plans in the coming days.
“Be more creative as you work leading in the environment that we have now,” said Pastor Henry. “This crisis is an opportunity for us to find other ways to fulfill the mission, to share peace in the fearful and anxious times many are living in and inspire our church members.”
Last week could not have been more a perfect time to launch Inter-America’s digital media initiative called Let’s Talk About Him—an short online evangelism series held Mar. 13-20, 2020, said Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president for evangelism.
“It was such an opportune time, that gave opportunity to invite others to join the five-minute messages and motivate members to talk more about Jesus to family friends and others they come in contact with,” said Braham.
The digital media initiative reached 232,756 persons on the IAD’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and the website accounts in English, Spanish and French, as well as 395 persons have enrolled in Bible studies during its first week debut, church leaders reported.
Amid several video conferences last week, pastor Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for the church in Inter-America, said he led a live devotional message every morning for pastors and leaders in Cali, in South Colombia, last week. He was scheduled to lead a week of prayer there but had to opt to preaching from his living room. He also spoke to a number of leaders during an evening online conference in Puerto Rico. “My messages to our leaders permeated on the hope and trust in God so needed today,” said Ferreyra. Ferreyra said his department is working on speeding up a certification program for laypersons which was scheduled to be launched in July but is expected to be available in the coming weeks in online seminar training for laypersons in carrying out their work of spreading the gospel more in these times.
Pastor Hiram Ruiz, public campus ministries (PCM) director for the church in Inter-America, led a vespers program for PCM directors and student leaders on Mar. 20 and sabbath morning service and afternoon program on Mar. 21. More than 140 connected during the weekend spiritual messages and this week 30-minute worship messages are scheduled at 8:00 p.m. for PCM leaders at universities across the IAD, students and anyone that would like to join in, Ruiz said.
“It’s the time to really believe in the Word of God and return home trusting that He is working our healing,” said Ruiz as he reflected on John 4:43-54. “We need to believe that what God says He will accomplish.” He encouraged online viewers to continue seeking God everyday to strengthen their faith.
“We are encouraging all of our PCM student members to share with their friends and connect with us every evening for 30 minutes of devotions this week. The meeting is open to everyone on Zoom https://interamerica.zoom.us/j/907022637 Meeting ID: 907 022 637
More meetings are scheduled this week with Inter-America’s union education directors, university presidents and administrators. Adventist hospital administrators and medical staff will be adjusting operations so that healthcare institutions do not become centers of contamination. In addition, union administrators will be meeting to plan ways of moving forward in their respective regions.
To learn more about initiatives and resources across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division territory spaning from Mexico, Central America, The Caribbean, The French Guiana Antilles, to Colombia and Venezuela, visit us at interamerica.org.