For more than 50 years, children and teens have celebrated the month of September as one of the most significant for the Adventist Church and its members. This is when Spring Baptism takes place; an opportunity in which thousands of boys and girls publicly express their desire to follow Christ, and acknowledge that as a result, their decisions also lead others to prepare and do the same.
All of this is part of a process that begins much earlier, with contextualized Bible studies which lead to a clear understanding of Jesus' sacrifice and God's plan for human beings. Whether in a local church, a small group, or other settings, understanding and accepting the vision presented by the Bible is key when justifying such an important decision.
But the month of September also includes other evangelistic initiatives which boost the church's missionary activity and create bridges between those who want to know more about the Bible and those who used to be but are no longer church members.
One of them is Scarf Week. Across Brazil, people of different age groups decided to turn September 13-17 into opportunities to share two messages: the value of life, and the social and spiritual relevance of Clube de Desbravadores (Pathfinders). Throughout the day, whether on the way to work, on public transport, or even inside a hospital, club members wore their yellow scarf around their necks. This inevitably arouses interest in those who see them, and ask club members about the scarves, offering them a chance to share. Additionally, yellow is the official color of the campaign against suicide in Brazil, giving the scarf a double meaning in September, which is also Suicide Prevention Month.
The activity was also a way to connect people who had stopped attending the club's activities and, in several cases, the Adventist Church. Therefore, from north to south across the country, Pathfinders were challenged to visit former members to remind them of the positives of being involved in the club, and to invite them to return.
“In each church, we have a Bible class, and every Pathfinder participates,” emphasizes Pastor Udolcy Zukowski, Pathfinder director for eight countries in South America. “Those who are baptized help those who are not, and thus disciple others.”
And what else can Pathfinders do to get involved in evangelism? In 2022, the goal is for each of them to invite a friend to join the club. However, the main thing, says Zukowski, is that they are excited to study the Bible.
In the meantime, however, on Saturday, September 18, which is World Pathfinder Day, the challenge was for participants to bring former members to the program in local churches and invite them to Week of Hope, an evangelistic project that started on the same date.
With an ongoing pandemic and a negative balance in several areas, such as the economy, 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for individuals and families, regardless of religious beliefs or affiliations. The loss of loved ones to Covid-19 and the rise in unemployment, for example, resulted in physical, social, and emotional problems.
It is in light of this that Hope Beyond Crisis Week was born as a positive response to the pandemic. The idea is to show that, despite the situation, God is in control of history. Therefore, until September 25, Adventist churches will have their doors open to receive guests to participate in biblical reflections and messages of comfort. (To find the one closest to you, click here.)
“We want people to have a real encounter with Christ, especially in a scenario as desolate as the one in which we are living,” shares Pastor Luís Gonçalves, evangelist for the Adventist Church in South America. “We want them to see that he can heal wounds, can transform lives, and is by our side at all times. This meeting is an opportunity to emphasize that the love of Jesus is above any situation, and any adversity.”
But the challenge of inviting others to join this program was not restricted to adults. Children and teenagers were also directly involved in the meeting, which even had content exclusively prepared for them. The challenge for them was to bring at least one friend to meetings, whether in person or online.
“We want them to be involved in two ways: giving themselves to Jesus through baptism, and a mission with friends to bring them to Jesus,” explains teacher Glaucia Korkischko, director of the Ministry of Children and Adolescents for eight countries South Americans. “Many of them are already preparing their friends to be baptized with them, and many others are taking advantage of this week to bring them to church for the first time.”