The Inter-American Division (IAD) launched its “Centennial Gospel Caravan” initiative this week as a comprehensive effort to target hundreds of unentered communities with the message of the gospel during the coming weeks. The initiative began with the virtual passing of the torch from the IAD leadership in Miami, Florida, United States, to the top leadership of the Atlantic Caribbean Union in Nassau, The Bahamas, during a brief ceremony on July 2, 2022.
“We are here for a special moment when we remember what happened years ago at the end of the 19th century, when the gospel came to our [IAD] territory,” said Elie Henry, president of the IAD. “The gospel came with men and women we called missionaries who preached the eternal gospel of Jesus our Savior.”
Throughout the past 100 years, Henry said the message of the gospel has entered in every one of the 42 countries and islands throughout the territory, but there is still more work to do and many more communities to enter.
Each union has already begun launching outreach activities that address social needs, present a positive image of the church, and reinforce the ministries that pioneered Adventism in the IAD, said Balvin Braham, vice president of the IAD overseeing the Centennial Gospel Caravan. “We want to impact communities and get people ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The initiative is part of centennial celebration activities and efforts that have mobilized church leaders and members during a year when the church is commemorating the establishment of the IAD in 1922.
As Peter Kerr, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, received the torch during the online program, he said the leadership and membership welcomed the opportunity to be a part of something grand and epic. “Thank you for inviting us to get involved in something so monumental as this mission,” he said. “The Atlantic Caribbean Union affirms our commitment to spreading the gospel to new territories and blazing the trail for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Some of the projects to penetrate unentered communities in the coming weeks and months will include health expos, distribution of Adventist publications, summer camps conducted by lay members, radio prayer ministries, praise and worship programs by the youth throughout parks, establishing a community center, and more throughout The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos, leaders said.
On July 3, Kerr passed the torch to Dennis Slusher, president of the Belize Union, during the online ceremony. “I have received this torch with humility and pride because of what it signifies,” said Slusher. “We are destined to preach the everlasting gospel in Belize, to every city, tongue, and village, until the last village.”
The plan for the next days and weeks will see more church members involved in several activities, including free medical interventions, distribution of clothing, praying for residents, teaching about the eight natural healthy habits, and more community impact activities.
Young people at the Central Belize Conference took to running with a torch while a caravan of vehicles followed through the streets, passing out literature on the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, distributing lunches to more than 250 families, and distributing trees to be planted.
As Caribbean Union leaders welcomed the torch on July 4, Kern Tobias, president of the church there, embraced the initiative on behalf of the dozens of islands strewn across the territory. “The Caribbean Union Conference understands the commission of Christ to take the gospel to all the world and that we are lights in the world and we must indeed reflect the goodness of God, that men and women will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven,” said Tobias.
Leaders shared that some of the initiatives to reach the unentered territory will include adopting a geriatric home in Suriname, feeding the homeless and launching an institution for the deaf in Antigua, reaching out to Hindu and Spanish areas in Trinidad, feeding the homeless and giving out hampers in Guyana, among others.
Central Mexican Union leaders received the torch during the July 5th online ceremony. “We want to reiterate our commitment before God to continue in the preaching of the gospel in the large metropolis of Mexico City,” said Jose Dzul, president of the church in Central Mexico.
Church members will be involved in distributing publications, planting trees, providing haircuts, giving health talks, distributing food, and targeting unentered areas in the Azteca, Bajio, Metropolitan, and the rest of the territory.
The Centennial Gospel Caravan torch will be passed from union to union during the designated evening programs at 7:00 p.m. Miami Time, until it reaches Inter-America’s territory-wide Festival of the Laity event held in Panama City, on Aug. 4, as follows:
- Central Mexican Union – Wednesday, July 6
- Chiapas Mexican Union – Thursday, July 7
- Cuba Union – Sunday, July 10
- Dominican Union – Monday, July 11
- Dutch Caribbean Union—Tuesday, July 12
- El Salvador Union—Wednesday, July 13
- East Venezuela Union—Thursday, July 14
- French Antilles Guiana Union—Sunday, July 17
- Guatemala Union—Monday, July 18
- Honduras Union—Tuesday, July 19
- Haitian Union—Wednesday, July 20
- Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union—Thursday, July 21
- Jamaica Union—Sunday, July 24
- North Colombia Union—Monday, July 25
- North Mexican Union—Tuesday, July 26
- Panama Union—Wednesday, July 27
- Puerto Rican Union—Thursday, July 28
- South Central American Union—Sunday, July 31
- South Colombia Union—Monday, August 1
- South Mexican Union—Tuesday, August 2
- West Venezuela Union—Wednesday, August 3
To view the passing of the torch during Inter-America’s Centennial Gospel Caravan, click HERE.