The Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America is promoting the global denomination's current focus on spiritual revival for accomplishing the church's mission.
In an action mirrored by each of the church's 13 world regions at their respective year-end meetings, leaders in South America reviewed and endorsed a document voted by the world church's Executive Committee, called "An Urgent Appeal for Revival, Reform, Discipleship and Evangelism." The document, voted last month, challenges leaders to prioritize the daily search for the presence of God's spirit and to live a life of genuine consecration for mission.
Adventist world church President Ted N.C. Wilson, who attended the meetings, challenged leaders there to humble themselves and confess their shortcomings. Wilson told the 200 regional church leaders in attendance that human efforts are meaningless without complete dependence on God.
Wilson recognized that the Adventist work in South America is well organized, clearly focused and integrated, but reminded pastors not to grow proud of successes in the region, instead urging them to follow God as humble servants.
Delegates began the November 8 to 13 meetings with praise, group prayer and Bible study, focusing on the need for daily consecration. Each evening, after the day's business, leaders gathered in groups to exchange ideas and meditate on topics such as spiritual reformation, enrichment and evangelism.
"This year, we ... invest[ed] more time in communion, since this is the basis of our work," said Erton Köhler, president of the church in South America.
The region, which spans eight countries, is home to a burgeoning Adventist Church membership. There are 1.3 million Adventists in Brazil alone.
Hélder Róger, a veteran pastor and president of the church in West Central Brazil, said he left South American Year-End Meetings "truly revived" and ready to depend more on God on a daily basis.
One first-time attendee, Olga Moraga, said she expected the meetings to focus on church strategy for the next five years. Instead, the lay delegate from Molina, Chile was surprised by the emphasis on spiritual revival and said she would return home motivated for mission.
During the meetings, regional church leaders voted to approve an integrated evangelism program for 2011 called Friends of Hope, held in connection with Homes of Hope. Next spring, church members are encouraged to invite their friends to church and Sabbath lunch in their homes afterward. Though friendship evangelism, leaders hope members can launch Bible studies and small groups with their friends.
"Hand over your lives to Jesus and trust in him," 14-year-old Vitória Martins told delegates via Web conference. Martins, a resident of southern Brazil, is one of the many small group leaders in South America.
Leaders there held a Small Group Administrative Forum this month to brainstorm ideas and suggestion to boost the work of small groups led by members such as Martins.
Year-End Meeting delegates endorsed their findings. They also voted to emphasize the spiritual development of children and teenagers across the region.
Through public meetings, small groups and friendship evangelism, outreach is a "joint effort" for the church in South America, said Köhler. Delegates left "motivated and with a clear impression" of how working together can reach more people with the church's message, he said.