CC hildren and Adolescents Ministries directors from across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America took a day to reflect on the impact of several successful and on-going initiatives and activities that have enriched the lives of thousands of youngsters for the past five years. They also looked at what will follow in their ministry to train children in the years to follow, during the Sep. 3, 2020 meeting. Dozens vowed to continue instilling Christian values in children and adolescents, mostly through online programs, during the pandemic.
“Our strategic plan has always been to encourage a lifestyle of witnessing and discipling in children and adolescents,” said Dinorah Rivera, children and adolescents ministries director for the church in Inter-America. “There have been challenging times just this year and you 24 directors have been instrumental in keeping this important ministry moving forward,” said Rivera.
Guarding and teaching children and adolescents
Inter-American Division President Pastor Elie Henry spoke to the leaders and encouraged them to continue guarding and teaching children and adolescents to keep their eyes on Jesus.
“We understand that these are challenging times and we have to ensure that our children are not left behind, that our adolescents are able to find the plan of God in their lives,” said Pastor Henry. “They are facing confinement, they have the challenges of attending online classes and all the challenges and changes this Covid-19 have brought.”
Pastor Henry challenged directors to continue showing God to the youth and help them find a sense of their life in Him and the future. “The quinquennium has passed and we have to find different ways to do things, to be more creative, to better understand how to fulfill the mission through this ministry where children are so tech savvy, so we must run fast to keep up with them.”
Focus on I Will Go
As the new five-year term will embrace the Adventist world church’s I Will Go strategic plan focused on mission, so initiatives and activities will be aligned to emphasize the three main areas of the Inter-American Division (IAD): evangelism, education, and service in the community, said Rivera.
Many of the ongoing initiatives like the “The Talking Backpack,” a program which allows children and adolescents to earn patches and pins as they study and learn character building traits every month through various activities at local churches as well as Adventist schools throughout the territory, will continue as a new version each year, said Rivera.
The Vacation Bible Experience (VBE) program that was scheduled for release earlier this year but delayed by the pandemic will ship or printed locally soon for summer program for 2021. Leaders had to rely on previous VBE themes this summer, said Rivera.
New publications were also presented by Inter-America’s two publishing houses, IADPA and GEMA, to assist leaders and teachers in their ministry of reaching children and adolescents in the territory.
Rivera pointed to the children’s and adolescents ministries certification program still in place. The training program prepares and equips teachers and leaders for effective leadership in weekly initiatives and activities.
Zoraida Perez, children and adolescents ministries director in North Colombia, said that the certification program has trained 5,000 teachers each year throughout the eight fields in the region. She reported that the Talking Backpack initiative saw 46,000 children talking part from 2018-2020. The ministry has grown to 1,290 small groups for children and adolescents in 2019, and resulted in 36,200 baptized youngsters since 2015 throughout the territory.
Gloria Padilla, children and adolescent ministries of the South Central American Union which includes Nicaragua and Costa Rica, said the growth of ministries has gained so much traction that more and more children are witnessing and sharing the message of the gospel. So far, 8,436 children have been baptized throughout the union territory and more than 7,324 are actively involved in initiatives and activities led by their local churches.
Linda Koh, children’s ministries director for the Adventist world church, highlighted several initiatives available to the church and encouraged leaders to engage children adolescents in outreach and compassionate ministries so they can to continue touch the lives of others as Jesus did. “Continue to impart [Christian] values in their lives so they can grow as Jesus wants them to, and they can see Jesus in us,” Koh said.
The group of directors prayed together, reported on the success of initiatives and activities and glanced at strengthening their ministry with upcoming new resources and initiatives.
To find out more about Inter-America’s children and adolescent ministries and its initiatives and activities, Click HERE