Adventist Church in Guatemala eyes revival of literature evangelism
After challenges, policy changes, and a dwindling number of literature evangelists affected the publishing ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Guatemala, church leaders came together to reestablish a school permanent evangelization of literature. More than 150 literature evangelists and active church members came together to be equipped, inspired and recommitted to spread the gospel through books and publications in their communities during a recent four-day event in Chiquimula , in Guatemala.
The new Literature Evangelism Training School, dubbed “Messengers of Hope,” has attracted the group, consisting mostly of dozens of interested new members who want to become full-time or part-time Literature Evangelists in the country. They were challenged to be the force that will strengthen publishing ministries, working closely with pastors in the mission to reach thousands of people in need of hope and salvation in Jesus.
“I know the church will benefit greatly from this army of workers ready to enter new territories,” said Guenther García, president of the Adventist Church in Guatemala. There were many discussions with administrators and department heads at each of the eight conferences and missions about the policy review as well as the benefits literature evangelists will be able to receive, García said.
“It’s been 10 years since we organized a National School of Literature Evangelists,” García said. Some regional events have taken place sporadically, but because literature evangelists in Inter-America have been taken out of the pension benefits system in the name of regional arrangements, many have lost interest, he explained.
Twenty years ago, the church in Guatemala had about 150 literary evangelists. Fifty of them worked full time, while the others worked occasionally. It also included some students, said Moises Vidal, director of publishing ministries for the Adventist Church in Guatemala. “Lastly, Guatemala had only 25 part-time literature evangelists, but now we have a total of 150 enrolled.”
A new system is now in place. Each field will work closely to mentor and train on-the-job literature evangelists in coordinated efforts with the Inter-American Division Publishing Association (IADPA), Vidal said. The plan will also see each district pastor help recruit a layperson or professional to work there as a literature evangelist, Vidal explained. The church also wants to recruit some 200 student literature evangelists before the end of the year, leaders said.
Looking forward to
“Our goal is to have a literature evangelist in each of the districts with accredited gold status so they can be eligible for retirement benefits,” Vidal said. “Because we hadn’t established a solid publishing system. . . there was no clear plan for the new literature evangelists. Now the task is to move forward with the new plan and ensure that literature evangelists are clear on their mission as they go out and log on and tend to every home they visit. .
It is about training a new generation of literature evangelists as missionaries and not as mere salespeople as many had thought, Vidal said.
As the church nationwide focuses on strengthening its publishing ministries, leaders aim to ensure that regional schools of literature evangelism are established within the next six months and that more literature evangelists literature can be recruited, so that each of them can reach more homes every day.
Isaías Espinoza, director of publishing ministries for the Adventist Church of the Inter-American Division (IAD), commended church leaders and newly enrolled literature evangelists for accomplishing what other areas across the territory still have to do.
“The Inter-American Division recently established new policies, whereby new literature evangelists may be classified as licensed and credentialed and be eligible to fall under the church’s benefits plan,” Espinoza said. The pension plan will draw funds from SAI, IADPA, the union and the local sector each year to help eligible literature evangelists meet their basic expenses and pension benefits, Espinoza explained. .
“Since the Adventist Church in Guatemala adopted new policies, it has seen a renewed interest from leaders and members in becoming ‘messengers of hope.'”
It is about sharing the awareness that the literature evangelist is not just a salesman visiting homes and selling magazines or books. “He or she is a messenger of hope, who can become independent while ministering,” Espinoza said.
Enter new territories
Espinoza hailed the goals of literature evangelists in the Central American country who will strive to visit 25 homes each day. This means, ideally, that 150 literature evangelists will visit 3,700 homes per day, or 112,500 homes each month.
“What an amazing gesture from the Adventist Church in Guatemala today,” Espinoza said.
The event saw IADPA leaders share books on family, spirituality, health and self-help, as well as incentives and new projects to help literature evangelists in their mission to to be messengers of hope.
“It goes back to what it once was for literature evangelists,” Espinoza said. “Literature evangelists are a tremendous boon to mission accomplishment. They help the church enter new communities, lead Bible studies and evangelistic efforts, and establish small groups so people can accept Jesus as their Savior,” he explained.
“Guatemala has been a launching pad, and we hope the rest of the unions will follow by establishing stronger publishing ministries so that literature evangelists can continue to fulfill the mission of sharing the hope of salvation,” Espinoza said.
With 1,800 active literature evangelists in Mexico and another 1,330 throughout IAD territory, leaders said their goal is to enlist more than 5,000 literature evangelists by 2025.
Gustavo Menéndez contributed to this report.