The fastest-growing Seventh-day Adventist Church organization is in Peru, where in just one week, 27,100 new members joined in what is believed to be the largest increase ever over such a time period. The baptisms, held throughout the country, accompanied the “Impacto 2000” outreach program held at the San Marcos Stadium in Lima by evangelist Alejandro Bullon and watched live on TV, cable and satellite broadcasts.
Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist Church, was present on the last weekend May 27-28 to participate in the final meetings and to preach during the last satellite broadcast. He also had the privilege of baptizing the last two candidates of the program called “Es Tiempo de Ver a Jesús.”
“This shows that no one knows what God will do,” comments pastor Raul Gomez, leader of the Adventist Church in Peru. “Jesus just said go, and make disciples. That’s what we as pastors and lay members are doing, through small groups studying the Bible together.”
“This event well illustrates the amazing church growth here in Peru and throughout South America,” comments Pastor Paulsen. “For my wife Kari and myself, this has been a truly astonishing experience—to see the Holy Spirit working in so many ways to lead to this dramatic event of Impacto 2000. We are just so delighted to be part of this, to be present as so many have committed their lives to the Lord.”
Speaking at two churches on Sabbath, Pastor Paulsen focused on the story of Abraham—which shows us to be pilgrims and strangers, he said.
“In this world being Christian is different. We live for different things than men and women of this world. A Christian says, ‘I’m on my way to a city whose builder and maker is God.’ As a Christian community we focus on the future. While on the journey, God goes with us.”
Pastor Paulsen recounted a story from his own childhood, when during the war he was sent to stay with a Lapp farmer in north Norway. At 8 yrs old his job was to make sure the goats, reindeer, and cows we brought in for the night. Early one morning—at 2 am—the farmer came and said some of the young goats were not in.
“He told me to go up the mountain and find them,” Pastor Paulsen remembers. “I felt miserable and alone, it was raining and I was tearful. Then felt something wet licked my hand—it was my faithful dog telling me I was not alone, that we would find the goats and bring them home. Sometimes in the pilgrimage you feel alone, that everyone has forgotten you, and God is a long way away. But the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is with us every step of the way. Paraclete is one name for the Comforter, and means one called to our side.”
In conclusion, Pastor Paulsen expressed his delight at being able to be in Peru to celebrate the dramatic growth of the Church under the leading of the Lord.
“I praise God for the church growth here in Peru,” said Pastor Paulsen. “Thousands are turning their backs on the ‘Egypt’ of this world and following the call of the Lord. We are together on the journey. Let us bring hope to one another. Alone, we are exposed, together we are made strong. Stay loyal, stay the course, stay true.”
Evangelist Alejandro Bullon, speaker for “Impacto 2000” spoke of his experience in the program.
“I was born near Lima and grew up here,” Pastor Bullon says. “I always have said it is easier to preach to those who don’t know you. It is different to preach to those who know you well, who saw you growing up. But the results have been wonderful, praise God! The work has been done in advance by church members studying their Bibles with friends and neighbors. Evangelism is not an activity of ministers or church alone, it is an activity of lay members and ministers together. I cannot give 50,000 Bible studies. I just preach and give the call. But 50,000 studies can be given by our lay members and together we can do great things for God.”
Pastor Bullon explained that such growth was also happening throughout South America.
“This is happening not just in Peru, but in the whole of South America. In Argentina, traditionally seen as a hard place to do evangelism, the reports for the first three months of this year show 160% of the previous year’s numbers of baptisms. The Division has helped greatly by cutting the budget for administration and putting the funds into evangelism. Our president, pastor Ruy Nagel, is a man with a contagious vision.”
In conclusion, Pastor Bullon explained why he believed it was all happening:
“Why? Because Christ is waking us up, and the Holy Spirit is preparing His Church. This is the result of the personal enthusiasm of lay members. Even my 75 year old mother is out looking for people to study with, and to invite to the meetings. The urgency of the time—the third millennium has woken many people up. We are living in the last times before the second coming of Jesus. We are re-assuming our missionary responsibility.”