The Philippines saw 10,000 baptisms. Zimbabwe had 30,000. Now Rwanda is gearing up for 60,000. Or more.
A series of major evangelistic initiatives organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in recent years is expected to reach new heights in Rwanda in May with the largest mass baptism in the church’s 153-year history.
Thousands of local pastors and church members are giving Bible studies, sharing health tips, and engaging in community service in the run-up to two weeks of evangelistic meetings at 2,200 sites across Rwanda in May.
The meetings will culminate on Sabbath, May 29, with the anticipated 60,000 baptisms or more, church leaders said.
“They are doing careful person-to-person work right now as they prepare for something exciting,” Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, told church members in the Iraqi city of Erbil during a weekend visit aimed at bolstering their faith in the conflict-torn country.
“They hope to baptize a minimum of 60,000 people in hundreds of places on that single Sabbath. It may be more,” said Wilson, who will conduct evangelistic meetings at one of the 2,200 sites in Rwanda. “This is the power of people working together with the Holy Spirit.”
Duane McKey, a coordinator of the Rwanda event and a special assistant to Wilson, said 60,000 baptisms would represent a milestone for the church.
“I’ve never seen 60,000 baptisms before,” he said in an interview. “It would be really thrilling to see that many.”
Rwanda is the latest country where the General Conference, the administrative body of the Adventist world church, has placed a renewed emphasis on large-scale evangelism. In May 2014, more than 10,000 people were baptized in the Philippine capital, Manila, and other places following months of Bible studies and community programs and two final weeks of evangelistic meetings. A similar effort unfolded in Zimbabwe in May 2015, resulting in 30,000 baptisms, and the U.S. city of San Antonio last summer, resulting in several hundred baptisms.
The Zimbabwe baptisms represent the largest group baptism in the church’s history. The Adventist Church, founded with just 3,500 members in 1863, currently has nearly 19 million members worldwide. Full Report