Jamaica CGI draws record crowds, baptizes teenagers

KINGSTON, Jamaica--The Church of God, International (CGI) in Jamaica continues blazing the growth trail and on Feb. 24 pulled in its biggest attendance at a public campaign addressed by a local speaker. Sixty-one new people turned out on a rainy evening.

"Jamaicans are normally averse to leaving their homes when it's raining," said the speaker, CGI Jamaica pastor Ian Boyne, "but the visitors and brethren braved the rain to put in a combined attendance of 166 to hear the presentation 'Should You Keep the Sabbath?' "

The local CGI had promoted the campaign by taking out ads in two newspapers and sponsoring a television program that discussed the subject of the Sabbath.

The next week, on the Sabbath of March 1, 45 people turned up at a follow-up campaign, a record, said Mr. Boyne, for a follow-up.

"On this day also, Kingston for the first time broke the 200 barrier in [Sabbath-service] attendance and had a total attendance of 205 persons," he said. Many visitors responded positively to an offer for "follow-up contact."
New members

"The following Sabbath there was another presentation on the holy days after which a gentleman who had been attending with the Church of God (Seventh Day) for a few years asked how he could be a member of the CGI," said the pastor.
The same man was one of eight people baptized March 24, just before the Passover two days later. In all, 172 took the Passover March 26.

"The CGI has a major evangelism plan for this year," said Mr. Boyne, "which includes the production and presentation of six television specials to be aired during prime time on Sunday afternoons on the most popular television station here."

Wedge issues

The first two programs, already on tape, deal with the Sabbath. Another expounds on the feast days and is aimed specifically at members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who, says Mr. Boyne, number nearly 200,000 in Jamaica.
The following two broadcasts will ask: Where is the true church?

"These are wedge issues," he said, "and we are unapologetic about using them to draw people to the Church of God, for we believe God has a true church, and people should be a part of that true church."

The CGI Jamaica plans another campaign for June, to take place simultaneously in Kingston and Ocho Rios. Both cities are sites of CGI congregations. Unusual among the Churches of God, the CGI Jamaica routinely baptizes teenagers.

Many CGI adolescents, said Mr. Boyne, "have personally accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and have been baptized." Teens were among the recent eight baptisms.
The church also sponsors Monday-night Bible studies to which Mr. Boyne has invited speakers from other religions, which the CGI brethren later critique.

"The Jamaican CGI is one example of church government with strong local participation," he said. "It is the largest of the ex–Worldwide Church of God groups in the entire Caribbean."

The Journal: News of the Churches of God is available from P.O. Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A., and For more information write . To comment on this article or any other article or feature in The Journal or Connections, write . The preceding article or feature is from The Journal, April 15, 2002.

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