On Saturday, September 6, the South American Division realized a continental wide evangelical outreach, carried by the hands of more than 2.6 million Adventists from twenty thousand different congregations in eight distinct countries. Impacto esperanza, or “Hope Impact”, as the event was entitled, aimed to spread the word of Christ’s second coming through the efforts of local churches.
In months of work who’s culmination would be reached in just one day, the church took advantage of both modern day communication techniques and the old fashioned tactic of beating the streets. Ten thousand billboards advertising www.esperanzaweb.com were hung throughout metropolitan cities all across the continent. The internet was flooded with promotional videos. Twenty million magazines entitled Viva con esperanza (Living with Hope) were distributed, coupled with the address of the nearest SDA church.
River Plate College in Argentina, an Adventist university with a particular emphasis in student lead missionary services, carried out a variety of activities both locally and in nearby cities.
Departing at 5:00 AM on Sabbath morning, approximately eight hundred students made the two and a half hour trip to Rosario, the countries third largest city, in order to execute the missionary outreach Una sonrisa para Rosario (A Smile for Rosario). Apart from visiting churches and speaking to those in the streets, groups of students donated clothes and food, refilled blood banks, and visited community hospitals and geriatric centers.
In the afternoon, two thousand people participated in a parade entitled Marcha de la salud y la esperanza (March for Health and Hope) that ended at the National Flag Monument, a setting normally reserved for visits from prominent political figures. In a culmination of the days activities, students, faculty, and city leaders recapitulated the events of the day and presented messages promoting Christian principles, healthy living and the protection of nature.
For those unable to accompany the group in Rosario, other programs took place in the locality of the university. During what would have been Sabbath School and throughout the afternoon, people lined the sides of the highway that passes by the nine thousand person town of Libertador San Martín.
Travelers who were willing to stop briefly were given the evangelistic information, together with food and water, toys for children, and the offer of a free blood pressure reading. Drivers were invited to tune in to the university’s FM student broadcasting station that featured a special show for the day’s events.
After hundreds of similar efforts all across the continent, the waiting game begins. What will be the result in the months to come? Will churches be filled with newly baptized members? Regardless of the outcome, success should not be measured in numbers.
What made Viva con esperanza successful was its strategy of uniting small churches to work within their own countries, provinces, and neighborhoods. It reminds me of a story beginning in Lucas 8:26. Jesus heals a demon-possessed man in a city near Galilea. The man begs to follow Jesus, but is told to return home and tell those in his city what God has done for him.
It is interesting how often we think that in order to serve as a missionary we must travel to faraway lands. Often, the best use of our time and resources is to begin at home. The South American Division’s recent campaign to share the promise of Christ’s second coming serves as an interesting example of how small, humble communities can work together to accomplish ambitious projects.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/958