Photo Credit: Willy Cruz is a pastor and volunteer missionary in New Zealand [Photo Courtesy of the South American Division]

General Conference

Internet connects Bible student in Pakistan and pastor in New Zealand

Young man used social network to ask for help to understand biblical text

New Zealand | Anne Seixas

The beginning of this story is in Pakistan. Henrique* and his family had a Bible at home and started to study it on their own, and one night, the boy began to pray to God for a direction in his life. The answer came through a social network.

Henrique was browsing Facebook and noticed a profile that caught his eye. 

“When he saw me among his list of suggested friends, he was curious and visited my page. There he saw that I was an Adventist pastor,” says Willy Cruz, a volunteer in New Zealand. 

They had no mutual friends on Facebook; for Henrique, it was God's response. He got in touch with Cruz by message and there began a friendship and a great effort to be understood in a language which neither of them spoke: English.

Cruz volunteers at an Adventist college in New Zealand. Brazilian, he also served in Uruguay and Argentina. When he received the first message in August, he was surprised. From there he started to exchange Bible verses and introduce Henrique to the Adventist Church.

Just over a month later, the young Pakistani expressed interest in visiting an Adventist church. It was then that Willy contacted other Adventist volunteers around the world in search of a pastor in that region. Through a young woman who served in East Timor, he found another volunteer, a Pakistani, who said that her uncle was a pastor in that region. They connected him with Henrique.

Thereafter, the local church welcomed the family and began to teach Bible studies personally. Today they attend the Adventist Church and are getting to know Adventists better.

Internet preaching

Just as these people connected via the internet during the period of social isolation, thousands more used Bible study platforms, videos, podcasts, and more to speak and learn more about the gospel. 

For example, Tânia Rocha was one of those people. After watching a live broadcast, he decided to return to regular Adventist Church meetings.

This type of content has had a 400 percent audience growth during the pandemic. From March to November, more than 1.6 million people were connected to Adventists in diverse ways, whether through religious attendance or by donating food and other necessities.

Currently, 624,000 people have received Bible studies, both through digital channels and from instructors in their regions. Part of these studies were conducted by young people who participated in the Caleb Mission.

In 2020, this volunteer project underwent adaptations to be able to happen. Many participants did not travel but used the internet. In total, some 170,000 South American youth served their communities in some way.

Helping the most needy

In the most critical months of the pandemic, ADRA helped more than 800,000 people who lost their jobs and their stability. Basic baskets, food cards, and personal hygiene items, among others, were distributed.

However, it was not just the financial issue that became a problem during the quarantine. Without being able to have contact with family and friends, many people suffered emotionally. To provide relief and guidance, a group of 827 volunteer psychologists in eight countries in South America have served 73,873 people since April.

“In that period we could see that Adventists went the second mile to keep the mission from being quarantined,” says Pastor Erton Köhler, president of the Adventist Church for eight countries in South America. “More than that, they helped others and preached through acts, as Jesus did.”

* fictitious name

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site