Source: Adventist News Network
[March 27, 2007] More than 44,700 new Seventh-day Adventist believers made history in the Inter-American region (IAD) of the Adventist church on Saturday, March 24, when they joined the Adventist faith community. Their decisions marked the largest number of baptisms in a single day in that region since the Adventist church was established there in 1921.
At the climax of the event was the baptism of Clarissa Pozo de los Santos, a young lady chosen to represent the three-millionth member of the church in Inter-America. She shared how God transformed her life.
"I was walking in the world and I saw how there is so much evil, pain and sadness and God has something else for me," she said. "It's like I have a new life now, I know that I will be different with God's help."
As Clarissa was submerged into the baptismal pool set up near the stage, crowds of people gathered around to witness the milestone.
Inspired by the Biblical 'Pentecost' in Acts 2, the territory-wide event, called Pentecost and More, featured satellite feeds from all 15 unions which were broadcast throughout the world and the IAD, including the hub of the program in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
"This is a very extraordinary day," said Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist World Church, to thousands of church members as he spoke at the El Palacio de los Deportes in Santo Domingo. "I've preached most Sabbaths and traveled all around the world, but I have never done anything like this," he exclaimed.
More than 10,000 people crowded into the stadium to witness the event, which was the culmination of months of outreach work in the region and took the coordinated efforts of hundreds of pastors, church staff and lay people throughout the 15 main administrative territories.
Outside the stadium, 5,000 more watched as waves of baptismal candidates, dressed in blue robes, stepped forward. Some baptisms took place inside the stadium, while most involved 60 pastors immersing converts in an Olympic-size pool outside.
Spearheaded by IAD's Ministerial Association, the outreach effort sought to involve pastors and church members in every local church in the territory to share the gospel with non-believers in the hopes of reaching the three-million-member mark. Two years ago, this milestone was not expected to be reached until 2010.
For church leaders, Pentecost and More is only a glimpse into IAD's future.
"Pentecost and More has been the awakening of a new direction for the church in Inter-America," said Leito. Leito expressed interest in making the program an annual event.
"It really speaks to what can happen when we get our membership to work," said Braham. "If we can get all of our members...actively involved in evangelism, then there is no telling as to the significant impact we can have."
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America covers Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the northern tip of South America, and has some three million members worshiping in 9,218 churches.