Following in the Tradition
Los Americas para Cristo, “The Americas for Christ,” was a major evangelistic program originating in the Dominican Republic. The administration of the Inter-American Division had requested that Jere D. Patzer, North Pacific Union Conference president and speaker for the series, hold evangelistic meetings in the capital city of Santo Domingo.
The meetings were part of a multi-year evangelistic plan in the Dominican Republic beginning more than a year ago. These March meetings were preceded by many outreach events involving other international evangelists, 150 pastors and thousands of Dominican church members. The members distributed hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature and gave numerous Bible studies all in preparation for this satellite series to be broadcast to the North, South, and Inter-American divisions.
Cesario Acevedo, Dominican Union president, said that the satellite series allowed the Gospel to enter many homes that they would not have had the opportunity to enter. “Our responsibility is to evangelize not only in our own territory but also to the entire world. Through the satellite broadcasts and the Internet, thousands of people were able to view the meetings,” he said.
While bare facts don’t tell the entire story, facts can help give scale to this project.
• The meetings were held in a 5,000-seat domed stadium in Santo Domingo, March 1429.
• Each meeting was broadcast by satellite to 60 downlink sites in the Dominican Republic and by cable to 100,000 potential homes there.
• The meetings were videotaped for satellite broadcast at a later date to North, Central and South America and the Caribbean in English, with Spanish translation on stage and simultaneous translations into French and Portuguese that allowed thousands of other locations to participate in the meetings.
• About 160 people from North America traveled to the Dominican Republic to support the meetings. While most of these people were from the Northwest, others came from Virginia, California and Hawaii.
• Approximately 1,000 new graphic sermon illustrations with texts in Spanish were created specifically for these meetings. Featuring the Hispanic cultural heritage, these graphics will become an additional resource for evangelism.
• Using the New Beginnings seminar materials, 13 area meetings were conducted by North American guest evangelists during the two-week period, and six of the speakers were teenagers.
• Pastor Ramon Canals from Oregon went “home” to the Dominican Republic to hold one of the meetings and baptized his own brother.
• When Jon Tillay, a 17-year-old junior at Walla Walla Valley Academy, preached his own series, a woman came up to him and said, “Jon, the reason that I was baptized was because of you.” Jon, who is now planning to do a series of meetings in the Walla Walla Valley next fall, says, “God gets all the credit, but what a neat way to use someone like me.”
• John Bryson, Idaho Conference youth ministries coordinator, reports that his conference sent 66 people to the Dominican Republic. Included in the group were 43 teenagers, 5 pastors and 18 other sponsoring adults. The group built the El Envi church for Maranatha Volunteers International during the day and participated in the evenings in four different evangelistic meeting sites throughout the Santo Domingo area. Larissa Moore, Gem State sophomore, said that their driver, Rafael, gave his heart to God while they were there.
• More than 21,000 people have been baptized as a result of the combined work of the evangelistic team members.
• In the Northwest, 20 Hispanic pastors report that to date 62 people have been baptized and more are expected as a result of these tape-delayed satellite meetings.
In 1903, General Conference president A.G. Daniells lauded the West Michigan Conference for voting to devote 50 percent of its yearly tithe to the mission fields. In 1904, the Iowa Conference voted to send half of their laborers and half of their annual tithes to mission fields.
Patzer said, “Our global evangelism outreach program is following the tradition of those visionary pioneers. And while we haven’t approached their level of sharing for missions, I am humbled to know that we here in the Northwest are having a small impact in preparing the world for the soon coming of Jesus.”