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Online evangelism from Brazil connects with young audience

Young adults worldwide watch livestream of prophecy series; ‘Countdown’ a trending topic on Twitter

Online evangelism from Brazil connects with young audience

Adventist evangelist Luís Gonçalves, center, and a panel of young adults discuss prophecy during an episode of “Countdown” last month. The web-based evangelism series was broadcast via livestream and offered a biblical take on end-time events. [photo: Mani Maria and Carolyn Azo]

Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in South America say a new method of interactive, online evangelism is connecting with young adults worldwide.

Called “Countdown,” the prophecy series was broadcast last month as a livestream on the church’s Spanish and Portuguese websites in South America. The web-based format meant viewers could interact with speaker Luís Gonçalves throughout the series.

“We are keeping up-to-date on modern media that reaches the youth, but the message we share is prophetic and Biblical, the same message that has always transformed so many lives,” said Areli Barbosa, general program coordinator for the series.

Series organizers said they chose the subject of prophecy after young people who participated in a church-administered survey said they were most interested in learning more about end-time events.

Statistics seem to confirm that interest, organizers said. During the series, the hashtag #ContagemRegressiva (“countdown”) was a repeat trending topic in Brazil.

“We reached almost two thousand tweets per hour at the start of the program,” said Rogéria Ferraz, technical coordinator for the series.

An estimated 84,000 viewers watched the Portuguese livestream and some 45,000 watched in Spanish. These numbers are based on a survey of sample Internet users after the series, organizers said.

The survey also revealed that viewers ranged in age from their late teens to early thirties and watched from as many as fifty countries worldwide. Indeed, viewers from South America to Slovakia sent questions to Gonçalves about the signs of Jesus’ Second Coming, the Millennium and other end-time topics. Organizers are following up with video chats and said they plan to make the online evangelism series an annual event.

Erton Köhler, president of the church’s South American Division (SAD), said the “Countdown” series will serve as a model to build upon in the future.

“As a church, we have to go where the people are, and if they’re on their computers, we need to go to them, speaking a language they understand,” Köhler said.

“I think that this program has incredible potential, not just for South America, but for other areas, too. Here, we have youth gathered together in their homes with groups of friends to watch Countdown,” said Johnatan Elías Adarme Rodríguez, who watched from Colombia.

Viviane Souza Paz, a viewer from Brazil, said the series clarified Scripture for her. “I’ve never understood the Bible as well as I do now,” she said.