LTAH creates new paradigm for evangelism in Jamaica
Written by: Phillip E. L. Castell, Director Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Friday, November 13, 2020
Who would have thought that in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has experienced over the past one hundred years that the Seventh-day Adventist church in Jamaica would have been able to successfully stage the single largest evangelistic campaign ever?
History will record that the first island wide digital evangelistic campaign in Jamaica was held during the period October 3 – 24, 2020 and was themed “Let’s Talk about Him, I follow Jesus”- (LTAH). The campaign was held under the leadership of the Jamaica Union Conference (JAMU) with campaign speaker being Pastor Dane Fletcher and co-evangelist Pastor Omar Oliphant. Just over three hundred and fifty persons where baptized during the series which was transmitted each night across the communication platforms of all five Conferences in Jamaica.
Speaking to thousands of viewers online on the final evening of the series, evangelist for the series, Pastor Dane Fletcher said “if I were to choose a speaker for the Let’s Talk about Him – I follow Jesus digital evangelistic series, it would not have been me but thank God for the privilege.” Pastor Fletcher was grateful for the supportive team across Jamaica which included administrators and directors from JAMU and the five Conferences, pastors, prayer warriors, singers, musicians and church members across the island who worked and prayed to make the series a success.
Pastor Everett Brown, president, JAMU in his final address during the series signaled that the church would continue to use and even increase the use of online digital mediums to share the gospel given our present circumstances.
“This is not the end, it is the beginning. It is the beginning of a new paradigm in terms of how we do evangelism in the Jamaica Union Conference,” said Pastor Brown.
Paying keen attention to the retention of new members won for the Kingdom of God through the series, the JAMU president urged the
church to take care of the new converts which he said were valuable in the sight of God.
“I want to encourage you to love them so that they will love their friends into the church so that they too may surrender their lives to Jesus and follow Him.”
Pastor Joseph Smith, assistant to the president for evangelism, JAMU, encouraged the new believers to become grounded in the knowledge of Christ through prayer and study in the Word.
“Spend time in personal devotion in the morning by yourself and if where you are there is a family, spend time in worship with your family too,” Smith said, in an interview with Pastor Omar Oliphant in the final afternoon of the series. The two were sharing tips with the newly baptized members on how to anchor their relationship in Christ during this new phase of their lives. “Finding this new relationship with God is good, but you need to be anchored in Christ,” Smith urged.
Brown opined that online media ministry might be the best way for evangelism in this new environment which makes it more difficult to have physical contact with people. In Jamaica, churches have been hit hard with government protocols and regulations aimed at reducing large gatherings but which have served to reduce attendance at churches right across the country.
Island wide curfew after 8:00 pm during the campaign period did not help the situation either and made it virtually impossible for people to attend churches even in small numbers.
Despite the challenges, LTAH was destined to reap a harvest of souls as hundreds petitioned heaven for success, weeks before the first sermon was preached. For forty days prior to the launch of the campaign, hundreds prayed and interceded daily between 5:00 am - 6:15 am for those who would be won for the Kingdom.
Joseph Campbell, who was an evangelist in an evangelical Sunday church was one such person. During the campaign, his step daughter and grand-daughter were baptized at the Constant Spring SDA Church. “My wife attends the Adventist Church and I used to attend church with her,” Campbell shared in an interview after his baptism. “I was studying with her before the campaign started and always found the Bible based teachings of the Adventist Church quite interesting. I really learnt a lot during the series and finally made up my mind to follow Jesus all the way based on the messages I was hearing.”
Sherice Beckford who was baptized on October 24, 2020 in Canada also made up her mind to follow Jesus all the way after hearing about the LTAH digital Campaign one day while watching West Jamaica Conference’s online service. She began watching the series on her laptop from the first day and found it to be very interesting.
“Every evening I would turn on my laptop and be one of the first to wait for the service to start,” said Sherice, who shared details of her conversion in an interview after her baptism. “I think it was really interesting and fun. As I listened to the sermons, I understood and I knew that it was time to give my life to Jesus.”
While the number of persons baptized during the series was not large compared to other physical campaigns held in Jamaica, the number of persons impacted certainly exceeded any previous single campaign on the island. Over the three week period of the campaign, online “live” nightly attendance ranged between 8 – 10 thousand instruments on Youtube and Facebook alone with viewership increasing between 200 - 300 % 72 hours after. On Sabbaths, the live online viewers of the Let’s Talk About Him, - I Follow Jesus campaign registered between 14 – 16 thousand instruments across the five Conferences in JAMU with those numbers also increasing by more than 300 % after three days.
The impact of the campaign also went beyond the boundaries of the island with one church in Florida hosting meetings every night through their zoom platform and with hundreds of people in the United States, Canada and in the UK participating as well.
The reach was also significantly increased across the island with the integration of NCU Radio on 91.1, 91.3, 91.5 FM, NCU – TV on the FLOW Channel, Bless TV and a number of local cable channels who decided to carry the program nightly.
Elder Nigel Coke, Communication Director, JAMU, was more than satisfied with the support he received from his team of Communicators across the island who went all out to ensure everything was in place for a smooth online experience. He had high commendation for the team of volunteers that comprised the technical team at the East Jamaica Conference headquarter from which the series was streamed. Many of them were students who were trained on the job over the past few months.
“The volunteers are so excited about the work. They are committed and the church can only see a bright future with the gospel being taken to the world with these young people,” said Coke. “They are so dedicated in taking the gospel right across the globe.”
With no one knowing when the challenges associated with COVID-19 will end, the LTAH – I follow Jesus campaign might be the blueprint for evangelism in Jamaica in the immediate future.
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