Evangelism and community outreach initiatives are attracting immigrants, leaders said.
On Sabbath, November 24, 2018, three persons of Hispanic origin were baptized in the same waters where Jesus was baptized almost 2,000 years ago, in the Jordan River in Israel. These three new members of the Tel Aviv Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church are added to other 14 new members baptized earlier this year.
Every person has a story of how he or she managed to get to know more about God and His Word, local leaders said. Take Yoana,* for instance.
For years, Yoana had heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In her native Colombia, one of her aunts talked to her about the church and invited her to attend. But Yoana did not want to know anything about Seventh-day Adventists and would instead attend services at another Christian church.
Eventually, as she was going through a rough financial patch, she decided to emigrate to seek better employment opportunities and ended up moving to Israel.
A few months after she landed, Yoana was invited to a Sabbath travel tour organized by the local Adventist congregation in April 2018. She was told they would visit Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River. Yoana decided to go on the trip, and at the last stop, the Jordan River, Yoana witnessed a baptismal ceremony. The officiating pastor, field secretary and assistant to the General Conference president Magdiel Pérez Schulz, made an appeal at the end of the service. Yoana accepted the call and began to attend church and study the Bible. Finally, she surrendered her heart to the Lord, and on November 24, 2018, was baptized.
Adventist Hispanics Set Foot in Israel
Hispanic Adventists in Israel feel God is blessing their efforts to connect with other immigrants. Local pastor of the Tel Aviv congregation Gerardo Farías said one of his strategies is spending Sabbath visiting places relevant to Bible history. “Usually friends, family members, and acquaintances are invited, and when they travel with the church, they take part in Sabbath School, a church service, and then visit the Jordan River, so they can see from the beginning what it means to give their lives to God,” Farias said. “They realize that every baptism is special, but when they realize that it was in that place where John the Baptist preached, they feel touched.”
Farías explains to them that Jesus Himself was baptized in that place, not because He needed it, but because He wanted to give us an example. “I believe the Holy Spirit moves powerfully in these places,” Farías said. “The minds are impressed, and then people know our church and learn about our beliefs, and they want to join.”
In Israel, the Adventist Church is also reaching other immigrant groups. According to official records, besides Hebrew, English, and Spanish, there are Amharic, Romanian, and Russian Adventist congregations in Israel.
In reviewing the latest developments, Farías also had congratulatory words for regional and world church leaders. He shared that the administration of the Israel Field, with the help of the General Conference, made a significant economic effort and bought a facility in downtown Tel Aviv. “Now the Tel Aviv International Church and the Hispanic Adventist Church will have a place of their own so they can continue to grow,” he said. “It is expected that new place will give us the opportunity to reach many more Hispanics who live in Israel.”
* Last name withheld.