A Belgian citizen visiting relatives in a corner of Rwanda. A 19-year-old woman who will lose her job. A police officer assigned to protect Seventh-day Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson.
These are among the record-breaking 95,890 people who accepted Christ in baptism during a two-week evangelistic series that wrapped up this weekend, church leaders said Sunday.
Additional baptisms connected to the meetings at 2,227 sites across the African country are expected to take place over the next few weeks, bringing the total to more than 100,000 and making the May 13-28 event the largest of its kind in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“You are an example for the entire world. We praise God for that,” Wilson told a crowd of 6,000 people at a final Sabbath worship service in the resort city of Gisenyi. Among those in attendance were 1,971 people baptized in nearby Lake Kivu in the morning.
Local church leaders credited the Holy Spirit and Total Member Involvement for the unprecedented number of baptisms.
“When each member is involved, there will be a big harvest,” said Sophonie Setako, president of the Adventist Church’s North-West Rwanda Field, which includes Gisenyi and had 10,778 baptisms. “By visiting people and assisting people in need, we have gained many members.”
Total Member Involvement is the name of a world church initiative that encourages each of the church’s 19.1 million members worldwide to find ways to share Jesus with friends and communities. The previous record was 30,000 baptisms after a two-week evangelistic series in Zimbabwe in May 2015.
In Rwanda, church’s 720,000 members took Total Member Involvement to heart. Many studied the Bible with neighbors and went door-to-door, inviting people to the evangelistic meetings. Members also donated money for food, cows, and health insurance policies aimed at improving the lives of impoverished people in their communities. Medical clinics at three locations provided free services to nearly 6,000 people over the course of a week