13 baptized in Jamaica during UB, including several teenagers
KINGSTON, Jamaica--On the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, observed by the Church of God in Jamaica on April 14, a record-breaking congregation here kept up its pace of shatter-ing previous records when 212 people attended the service, the highest attendance ever at a CGI service here.
On the evening of April 4, 147 brethren participated in the Passover service, and on the first day of Unleavened Bread 188 attended services.
On the Sunday before Passover 13 people entered the waters of baptism, including several teenagers, "breaking the deplorable tradition in the Church of God of apathy among our young people," said Ian Boyne, CGI representative and pastor here.
Several teenagers, all offspring of church members, were among the 10 who were baptized at the Feast of Tabernacles last year, said Mr. Boyne, "and others of their peers have publicly accepted Jesus Christ and His way of life by being baptized this spring."
Other teens have expressed their wish to be baptized at the Feast of Tabernacles this fall.
"The CGI has a strong and vigorous youth program and believes that this natural evangelism ground has been too long neglected in the Church of God," Mr. Boyne said.
Before the baptisms the pastor reminded the congregation that Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, cited 1 Corinthians 7 to show that the children of members are in a special category and that this gives them an advantage spiritually and in terms of positioning for God's calling.
"It is the specific mission statement of the CGI Jamaica to restore the balance to the Church of God which has eluded us over the years," said Mr. Boyne. "We must regain our youth and stop making excuses about God's not calling them."
A CGI elder from the United States attended with the brethren here for Passover. Richard Williams of Kentucky, whom Mr. Boyne describes as an "electrifying speaker," talked about being brought "back from the dead" 10 years after he had left the WCG.
Mr. Williams spoke about proper balance in prophecy. Disillusionment over WCG prophecies had led to his leaving the WCG after Jesus failed to return in 1975.
Mr. Williams urged the brethren to focus on Christ and the complete gospel rather than only part of it.
On the Night to Be Much Observed, April 7, the brethren participated in a gospel concert of choruses, skits and vocal solos.
"The praise-and-worship session was gripping," said Mr. Boyne, "with the children, young people and adults all joining along in glorious harmony."
On the first day of Unleavened Bread Mr. Boyne delivered a sermon, "The Effects of Sin," in which he quoted from international reports and magazines such as Scientific American, Discover, Time, Newsweek and Psychology Today, showing the results of man's going his own rebellious way.
He argued that objective evidence demonstrates it is "not in man to direct in his own steps."
"True liberation," he opined, "lies in acceptance of God's way of life."
Focus on the fight
On the last day of Unleavened Bread the pastor spoke about "a battle plan for getting rid of sin," focusing on ways to fight sin.
In the afternoon George Ramocan spoke about the significance of the wave-sheaf offering and the seven weeks of harvesting that followed.
"We have a lot of work to do in reaping for the first resurrection," Mr. Ramocan reminded the brethren.
Bishop from Maryland
Among those baptized was a bishop from the United States who had traveled from Maryland, where he runs the Destiny of Hope Center.
Bishop Robert Woodland, a full-time minister since 1967 who has conducted crusades in Ghana, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Mexico and who was general overseer in his denomination, had tears in his eyes as he told of joyfully coming into the true church.
Mr. Woodland accepted the Sabbath a couple of years ago and has affiliated his church group in Maryland with the CGI.
"I am tempted to wonder why God took me through those detours before bringing me into His true church," he said, "but I am glad to be home finally."
This is "just one of the many testimonies from those whose lives are being impacted by the work of the CGI Jamaica," concluded Mr. Boyne.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God