From COVID to Converts
NEW ORLEANS – It was March 2020. We were less than four months away from evangelistic meetings at New Orleans First Seventh-day Adventist Church when I scheduled a board meeting in preparation for the meetings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to shut things down and both the church board and the church at large were not comfortable visiting anyone during this time. We knew God wanted us to have this meeting, but it didn’t seem it would happen anytime soon.
Fast forward to 2021 and the pandemic showed no sign of slowing; however, talk of a vaccine was in the air and we began to be more optimistic about holding the meetings. We began to pray in earnest again, and decided to move forward. Bible workers arrived and began their work in earnest. They worked hard with their masks on their faces as they met people, studied with them and invited them to become followers of Christ. The evangelist for the meetings, Alfred Miller, arrived and the meetings started. Church members were inviting friends, family members and coworkers; individuals who were studying with and who were thinking of joining the church themselves were inviting and bringing friends and family members to the meetings. We prayed while we took temperatures; we prayed while we offered masks to those who were coming; we had potlucks and went into the neighborhoods for prayer walks and to pass out literature. We were on a mission and COVID-19 could not stop the forward march of God’s work.
As the meeting progressed, what seemed like an impossibility was now a reality. As we approached the last Sabbath of the meetings, the focus shifted to the people who were to be baptized.
On April 17, 2021, Miller preached his final sermon. As he preached, hearts were touched, commitments were made and 18 people were baptized, four people joined the church on profession of faith and several more indicated an interest in studying the Bible for future baptism. Among those baptized were three families, a mom and her four children, a mom and her daughter and a dad, mom and their son. All the individuals who were baptized have their stories, but the one we want to end this report with is that of a little girl named Priscilla. Her mom, dad, grandmother and grandfather are church members. On the day of the baptism, Priscilla told her mom that she wanted to be baptized. Her mom said, no, you must be at least 10 before you can be baptized. She was not happy with that response, so she went to her dad and her dad said yes, she asked her grandmother and she said yes, but when she asked her grandfather, he said no. No, because it is not our general practice to baptize children at her age. But Priscilla wanted to be baptized and she began to cry. Seeing her tears, her mom and grandfather relented and gave their consent. With the scripture, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven,” ringing in our ears, Priscilla was prepared for baptism, and on that day, she was baptized with mom, dad, grandpa and grandma standing by renewing their vows to continue to raise her to fear God and give glory to Him.
The Lord was not yet done. On Sat., May 1, 2021, another three souls were baptized.
What an awesome experience we had! What a harvest of souls! As the new believers stood up front at the end of the service, we said a prayer of consecration. We know that the work has only just begun. We had impressed on them that this was the beginning of the journey; there will be stumbles and missteps and even some falling, but the good news is that with the help of Christ, we can get back up again and continue the journey with Christ until He comes and takes us home. What a day that will be when our Jesus we will see! The harvest is ripe, and now there are 25 more workers for the vineyard of Christ. What a blessing!
By E.J. Collins, Pastor