Inspired by the largest baptism in church history in Rwanda, Seventh-day Adventists in the Philippines are prayerfully preparing for a new record during a Total Member Involvement evangelistic campaign in 2018.
The official goal is to baptize an unprecedented 120,000 people, but the figure is shaping up to be even larger for the countrywide outreach on July 13-28.
“The Philippines has tasted Total Member Involvement, and church members have come up with a bold, ambitious goal because they see that Total Member Involvement really works,” said Samuel Saw, president of the Adventist Church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, whose territory includes the Philippines.
Total Member Involvement is a world church initiative that encourages each of the 20 million Adventists worldwide to find a way to share the gospel. Rwanda’s embrace of Total Member Involvement led to a record 110,000 baptisms during evangelistic meetings in May 2016.
With the Philippine baptisms, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which has 1.4 million church members in 14 countries, is looking to more than double its annual average of 80,000 baptisms, Saw said. He believes that the ambitious goal is attainable with heaven’s help and said God has significantly blessed the preparatory work. When the division doubled its 2018 evangelism budget to $2 million, tithe and offerings soared, he said.
“The more we add to the budget, the more tithe and offerings multiply,” he said.
Every Church a Venue
The South Philippine Union Conference — the largest of the church’s three unions in the Philippines, with half a million members — has set an official goal of holding meetings at 1,200 sites and baptizing 50,000 people. The North Philippine Union Conference, which has about 350,000 members, has 1,000 sites and 40,000 baptisms, while the Central Philippine Union Conference has 800 sites and 30,000 baptisms.
But church members are already thinking bigger. In the North Philippine Union Conference alone, church members have announced that they could organize 2,500 sites and reach 82,000 baptisms, said union president Romeo T. Mangiliman.
“Every church will be a venue,” he said. “Our people are excited.”
The region already has experience with Total Member Involvement evangelism. A campaign organized in cooperation with Adventist World Radio on the island of Mindoro resulted in 1,400 baptisms in June 2017.
Mangilima said he and other church members, inspired by Rwanda, are prayerfully moving forward with small Bible study groups.
“We are praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Even though we are making plans, without His power we cannot reach our goal.”
Small groups also have been formed in the Central Philippine Union Conference, said union president Agapito J. Catane Jr.
“I’ve discovered that the church members are very responsive,” he said.
“We Are Serious”
Edwin C. Gulfan, president of the South Philippine Union Conference, emphasized that the goal of the evangelistic campaign is not to surpass Rwanda but to prepare many for Jesus’ second coming.
“We believe God’s work is not a competition,” he said.
“We just let the Lord of the harvest know we are serious in His business of ‘calling His other sheep into his only one flock because He knows them and they know Him for they hear His voice and follow Him,’” he said by e-mail, citing portions of John 10:14, 16, and 27.
Philippine church leaders discussed evangelistic preparations with Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson last week during the Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s year-end meetings in Silang, the Philippines.
Wilson said he believed that God would bless the campaign “beyond measure and beyond their expectations.”
“Total Member involvement is just going to thrill the church members with enthusiasm for soul winning,” he said in an interview. “It is going to be — in my opinion, through God’s grace — phenomenal.”
Wilson, speaking during a sermon on Nov. 4 at the church at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, urged all church members to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the work in the Philippines and beyond.
“When the latter rain falls, you will not believe what will happen,” he said. “God will move in such a miraculous way that truly the unreached will be reached and then we can go home.”