Thousands of children across the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) are enrolled in the newest discipleship and evangelistic initiative that will lead them through numerous activities and projects over the next 10 months.
Coined as, The Olympics of Faith – I Will Go, the initiative will engage children ages 1 to 14 in activities that will enrich their spiritual, physical, and emotional lives through a series of Bible studies, prayer sessions, and physical and healthy learning activities at home, in their churches and their communities.
“There’s a lot of excitement all throughout the territory as the Olympics of Faith has begun throughout all of our unions in Inter-America,” said Edith de Espinoza, Children and Adolescents Ministries Director. “This is all about keeping our children involved in a program that not only will have an impact on their spiritual and physical lives but will deal with many of the issues that children face today.”
The initiative is paired with Inter-America’s I Will Go mission initiative this quinquennium, and will aid children in participating in family activities, reaching other peers in their neighborhood as well as getting involved in service activities in their communities.
Complete with passing a torch from union to union each month, earning points, tracking accomplishments on personalized cards to reach gold, silver, or bronze medal status at the end of an Olympic themed journey, the initiative will see children studying the life of Bible characters, memorizing scripture, praying for others, learning about eating well and keeping healthy habits, testifying for Jesus, discovering new skills and taking part in preparing and holding an evangelistic campaign in their local church at the end of September.
The Olympics of Faith initiative is expected to draw more than 500,000 children throughout the IAD to complete their journey in October. Evangelistic campaigns led by children and adolescents will be an important element in the 10-month Olympic journey, said Espinoza.
Union and local children and adolescents ministries directors are working with thousands of children to train and disciple them to witness to others. The goal is for each of the 24 unions in Inter-America to reach at least 100 newly baptized youngsters during special evangelistic campaigns that will be held in September in commemoration of Inter-America’s centennial celebration this year.
In Venezuela, more than 30,000 children have already enrolled in the Olympics of Faith initiative, said Espinoza. “This is such a big step for them; amid the difficult challenges there, our leaders are working arduously to lead many children in this special initiative,” she said.
In El Salvador, children and adolescents ministries leaders have created animated videos that go along with each themed weekly activity.
In the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union, leaders have produced a booklet with puzzles, diagrams, and multiple activities to enrich each weekly program.
Other unions have also adopted the initiative to fit their specific local fields and churches this year.
Las Lomas Adventist Church, one of the smallest churches in the East Tabasco Mission in the Southeast Mexican Union, has only three children and one Children and Adolescents Ministries Leader. But those three children have brought in five children from the community to participate in the Olympics of Faith, said Espinoza.
It’s all about involving children, as part of retaining them with attractive programs that can engage them in the life of the church, said Espinoza. “Children in our local churches can be the most effective missionary contact for other children. They are key evangelistic witnesses not only to peers but to parents, too.”