At least 60 people request baptism on the first night of countrywide meetings.
A major two-week evangelistic series began on Sunday evening with thousands of people gathering at 87 sites across Zimbabwe, including 10,000 people in a large field and parking lot outside the capital, Harare.
The “Revelation of Hope” meetings, part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Mission to the Cities initiative to share Jesus in the world’s biggest cities, will culminate on Sabbath, May 30, with an expected 30,000 baptisms.
About 60 people requested baptism after Adventist Church leader Ted N.C. Wilson spoke about Nebuchadnezzar's great image in Daniel 2 and the historical accuracy of the biblical prophecy to the 10,000 people gathered in a field near a shopping center in Chitungwiza, a town about 30 minutes by car south of Harare.
“I have never made an appeal for baptism on the first night of an evangelistic meeting but was urged to do so,” Wilson said. “Many people have been through Voice of Prophecy Bible lessons or been prepared in small groups, so I made a general appeal to be ready for Christ’s soon coming and then made an appeal for baptism.”
The 60 people will be welcomed into instructional classes that are being held ahead of the two-week evangelistic series. Some 5,000 small groups have been meeting countrywide for months.
“This portends for a wonderful evangelistic series through the power of the Holy Spirit,” Wilson said. “We urge all to pray for God’s Spirit to fall on the many evangelistic series being held across the greater Harare area and across Zimbabwe.”
Attendance in the field is expected to grow in the coming days from the 10,000 who showed up at 5:30 p.m. for opening night, church leaders said. No rain is forecast for the week, and the temperature was a mild 75 degrees Fahrenheit (25 C) throughout Sunday, dipping to a slightly chilly 61 F (16 C) in the evening.
Before the main prophecy presentation began, audience members listened to a health seminar by Dr. Alex Llaguno, health ministries director for the Adventist Church’s Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, which includes Zimbabwe.
Comprehensive health ministry is also a strong focus of the evangelistic series, with people being offered practical information that meets both their spiritual and physical needs.
Meetings also were held on Sunday evening at 61 evangelistic sites across Harare and at two dozen sites in 17 other cities. Among those preaching in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, are Anthony Kent, associate secretary of the Adventist world church’s Ministerial Association, and Lael Caesar, associate editor of the Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines.
In anticipation of the 30,000 baptisms, local church leaders have divided many local churches into two to accommodate a surge in new believers.
A new church building also started going up Sunday in Darby, near the central Zimbabwean city of KweKwe. Church members are constructing the church as part of a “zonde,” or work bee, with church members coming for a week to build the church and do evangelism in the area.
Zonde, pronounced zon-day, is a well-known Zimbabwean emphasis on working together to accomplish something.
Church members have been leading small groups in the area for some time, and evangelistic meetings this week represent the “reaping” when participants are invited to accept Jesus.
Wilson, division president Paul Ratsara, and other church leaders attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the new church on Sunday and will return to the site on Sabbath, May 23, to dedicate the building and witness its first baptisms from the evangelistic meetings.