Courtesy of the Digital Evangelism Initiative
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Maryellen Hacko

New online prayer and Bible study initiatives spearheaded by the General Conference (GC) are actively engaging multimedia technologies to make the gospel accessible to people everywhere, as part of their new “Digital Evangelism Initiative” (DEI).

According to Associate Director of Communications for the GC, Pastor Sam Neves, the need for DEI arose from the new global paradigm brought on by search engines like Google and YouTube, as well as social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. 

“When someone is looking for an Adventist church or even general Bible questions, they are much more likely to find the global website and social channels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its departments,” he explains. “Every day, there are millions of searches from people trying to understand the Bible or just looking for online pastoral care.”

Courtesy of the Digital Evangelism Initiative

Intended to connect seekers with quality Adventist content, as well as local Adventist churches,

DEI is an umbrella ministry under which multiple teams work around the clock to make the gospel accessible via multiple channels. The GC’s new Heroes 2 app and newly-launched Adventist Teams platform are two major projects that fall under DEI. There are also teams that work to maximise the SEO and organic reach of the Church’s site (www.adventist.org) through services like the Centre of Online Evangelism (COE), and that help translate videos and other content produced by the world Church.

In addition, there are teams that monitor the Church’s official websites and social media platforms, praying for people who submit requests for Bible studies and prayer. 

“We have 30 prayer warriors praying for up to 60,000 prayer requests from different people globally, each week,” says Roenna Sintos, whose role as Community Management Unit (CMU) leader for the DEI team in the Philippines is to answer all messages sent through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels of the Adventist Church. 

“I divided them into 5 groups and spread them throughout the day to just pray for 5 to 6 hours straight. They pray for them 24/7, interacting with those who are depressed and hopeless,” she says.

Gaurav Joseph Zachariah, volunteer president for the DEI’s global team of Digital Bible Workers has also experienced first-hand the influx of online requests for prayer and Bible studies over the past 12 months. 

He manages a team of 90 digital Bible workers from across the globe as part of a new pilot project the DEI hopes to roll out officially at the end of the year. Currently, 341 students are enrolled and receiving Bible studies, and the number continues to grow every day. 

“We have 12 groups, based on our Church’s Divisions,” he explains. “Then I divide them into respective sub-groups based on their languages and country of origin.

According to Mr. Zachariah, about 50 percent of registrations for Bible studies are from Adventists, many of whom are newly baptized, are isolated due to the pandemic, or simply prefer online Bible studies. The other 50 percent are seekers.

“After we moved into lockdown and online worship, many people stopped attending their local churches or being involved much at all. This has allowed us to create an online community,” he says.

Utilizing platforms like Monday.com and Google Drive to connect teachers with students, the Digital Bible Workers are trained utilize existing resources like Amazing Facts, It Is Written and the Voice of Prophecy series, but are also free to tailor-make materials depending on students’ needs. Importantly, DEI is intentional about partnering with existing Adventist departments, organizations and resources to make sure the maximum number of people and languages are reached.

“Yes, a person can just go to the Amazing Facts website and sign up and do a Bible study, but that’s a machine-generated experience,” explains Mr. Zachariah. Sure, there is a place for that, but with the Digital Bible Worker initiative you are interacting with a human being,” he says. “There’s someone to check on you, to guide you through the study, to empathize and connect with you.”

As a result of the pilot program, a woman was baptized in the Netherlands, and another member in southern Spain has committed to baptism. There have also been miraculous answers to prayer, including healing.

“Two of our Digital Bible Workers—Nick and Grace Losseve, live in California. [Grace] got sick last month in May, and she was hospitalized and unconscious for a while, in the emergency room. Nick reached but to us and to his friends to pray, and we prayed together and fasted for a week,” said Mr. Zachariah. 

A message from Nick on May 13, 2020, read, “After hours of battling for her life in the emergency room, Grace finally gained her consciousness this morning. Uncertainty is heartbreaking.... so, I choose courage and optimism.” Then again on May 20, he wrote, “It is with overwhelming joy and gratitude I praise God for all your prayers and support. Grace has been discharged from hospital and peacefully sleeping in her room at home.”

Countless answers to prayer have also been experienced by Mrs. Sintos and her Prayer Warrior team in The Philippines, who have witnessed relationships being restored, jobs being granted, and multiple baptisms. 

“I always find joy in all the answered prayers, especially if I am the one praying for that person,” she says. “Recently, I [prayed for] a [Adventist] student who happened to be from my own city. Her prayer request was for her school registrar, who I happened to know as well. I prayed for this young woman that the school registrar would allow her to graduate from college despite missed classes scheduled on Saturdays. After a week, she came back to our page to thank God and us for praying for her because she was going to graduate. It impacted me a lot because God fulfilled His promise in Matthew 6:33.” 

While these Bible study and prayer ministries are actively uniting people and changing lives across the globe, they are not without challenges, especially given the cultural diversity of people involved in DEI. 

“People from different backgrounds and experiences have different opinions. At times there are disagreements,” explains Mr. Zachariah. “Also, many of our Bible workers are willing to serve but they do not have the proper resources, especially in the African Divisions. They must buy their data cards on their SIM cards. Another challenge is a lack of technical expertise. People are willing and have a heart of service but are sometimes unfamiliar with online technologies.”

Mrs. Sintos agrees that it can be a challenging ministry, “It’s painful to read messages and you cannot physically help them, but we have learned to rely on God in everything. It is not our role to solve others’ problems, but it is our duty to lead these people in the right direction.” 

“These words from the Pen of Inspiration have been our ‘Mission Statement’,” quotes Mr. Zachariah, “‘Every Christian is bound to be a Bible worker, to do something in imparting to others the great present truth for this time. Communicate what you do know. Tell it, sing it, pray it. Work while it is day; for the night cometh, in which no man can work. God help you, is my most earnest prayer” (Ellen G White, The General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1899, Paragraph 18).

If you would like to volunteer as a Digital Bible Worker, Prayer Warrior, Translator, or in any technical capacity behind the scenes for the GC’s Digital Evangelism Initiative, you can sign up or find out more information via the links below:

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