The experience of teaching something to others is unique. The possibility of sharing a message that is valued highly promotes the personal growth of those who share it. This is what happens with thousands of people who give Bible studies in Adventist congregations throughout South America.
From January–June 2023, according to official records, 430,520 people were involved in administering some kind of Bible study in groups or individually; 375,367 people, in turn, received some kind of Bible study in the same period from Adventists. The growth in the number of Bible instructors was also significant: from 158,778 in the first half of 2022 to over 430,000.
All this movement around Bible studies has resulted in many baptisms. In the first half of 2023, 101,498 public decisions for Christ were registered in South America.
Additionally, many people have developed the habit of setting up groups to study the Bible. This was the case of gardener Jaime Silva de Santana, age 19, who lives in Itaberaí, Goiás, Brazil. He was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist two years ago and says the habit of giving Bible studies was a longstanding desire that has now come true. "It's been a blessing to be able to share what we know about the Bible with other people because that's what happened to me, and I feel the need to participate more in this ministry," he says.
Santana has actually organized a small study group. The manual used is the guide called Jesus, Restorer of Life, and the meetings began with two families in mid-to-late July. He, his mother, and two other women who attend one of the Adventist congregations in the city pray, read Bible texts, and try to understand God's will for their lives. The young man says past experiences made him want to become an instructor. One of the enriching moments was his involvement in a Caleb Mission project in 2022 in Curuçá, Pará.
Even though Santana has only been living in Goiás for a short time, he is involved in various activities at the Park Fernanda Adventist Church in Itaberaí. A few days ago, he gave his second sermon and is thinking of dedicating himself to other ministries.
The gardener's story illustrates the importance of each Adventist making evangelism one’s own individual experience. In other words, each person must embrace what is institutionally called “personal ministry,” the work on behalf of those who would still like to know more about Christ and His teachings.
The concept of personal ministry on behalf of others intersects with that of volunteering. The Seventh-day Adventist Church globally offers different programs that allow children and adults to get involved in initiatives of this nature. In the first half of 2023, throughout the territory of the South American Division, which covers eight countries, 270,626 people took part in a Caleb Mission project. This initiative is largely attended by teenagers and young people and includes social and evangelistic activities.
There is also a group of 728 missionaries who, between January and June this year, took an extra step in their commitment to the mission of spreading the Gospel to others. They are the participants of One Year in Mission (OYiM). For comparison, in 2022, there were 393 missionaries working during the same period.
For those who feel called to embark on cross-cultural missionary journeys, there is also room. In the first six months of 2023, the Adventist Church sent 105 people to serve as volunteers in countries outside South America; at the same time, it received 67. These figures come from Adventist Volunteer Service (AVS).
Novo Tempo Network
In addition to the personal work of the members, the Novo Tempo Communication Network sends out materials for Bible studies. The Novo Tempo Bible School reported that in the first half of 2023, 153,894 students were registered and 380,285 Bible studies were sent out in print format alone. On the Digital Bible School side, in the same period, 99,197 Bible studies were started with 42,041 students. Most of these were through systems that use artificial intelligence resources.
In the opinion of Pastor Stanley Arco, president of the South American Division, it is a great encouragement to see the growth of people involved in Bible studies and volunteer work. He stresses that "the impact of a great missionary effort is made by the commitment of people to teaching and discipleship. And above all, we are grateful that there are more young people, teenagers, and children participating in the sacred mission of bringing the Word of God to more people, in a continuous process of renewal with the Bible and with the mission. Everyone grows this way.”
See all the data in the infographic below: