Historic LE Congress Held in Curaçao
by France Chambers | News Staff, Inter-American Division
Nearly 200 literature evangelists (LEs) from across Jamaica, the English Caribbean, and the Netherlands Antilles met recently for the first joint Literature Evangelist Congress in Willemstad, Curaçao. The event was designed to strengthen literature evangelism in the Inter-American Division (IAD) by facilitating testimonies, sharing experiences, and learning new skills.
Themed “Cast Deeper,” the four-day congress, held August 21–24, was the first of its kind held by three of the longest established literature evangelism ministries among the English speaking unions in the Inter-American Division, said Erwin González, Publishing Ministries director for the church in Inter-America.
“It was very inspiring to see how dynamic and strong these unions are in their publishing ministry,” said González. “It is mainly because of the support from administrators and Publishing Ministries directors at every level of the church organization there.”
Stephen Apola, Publishing Ministries associate director at the General Conference (center), challenged LEs to share the gospel not only with local citizens, but also with those who visit their countries.
“You get a lot of tourists here,” said Apola. “They come from countries that face difficulties in preaching the gospel, so why not preach to them here? The Caribbean still provides allowance for sharing the gospel, whereas it is becoming more difficult to do the same in other parts of the world.”
Judith Smith, Publishing director for the Caribbean Union and one of the main organizers of the event, expressed her satisfaction with the fulfillment of this long anticipated joint venture.
“This week is really a fulfillment of many years of planning, as we seek to empower our directors and our literature evangelists to cast deeper,” said Smith. “We realize that literature evangelism is, and will continue to be, God’s anointed means of meeting people…with the printed page,” she said.
Smith reported that last year the active 240 literature evangelists in the Caribbean Union delivered books and literature valued at US$387,531, and are aiming to reach more by the end of 2019.
“We are happy to be a part of this event, where our literature evangelists can continue to be motivated to be champions, because with Christ, they are champions,” said Dudley Hosin, Jamaica Union Publishing Ministries director.
Hosin reported that the Jamaica Union, with 287 enrolled LEs, sold approximately US$500,000 worth of literature, resulting in 386 baptisms. “We are happy to remind them of their high calling of being literature evangelists, to let them know that God is with them, because they are doing a work that is second to none,” said Hosin.
“As a result of this congress, I am more committed to this ministry and want to use my time and resources to support this critical work in the Jamaica Union,” said Everett Brown, president of the church in Jamaica.
“The congress has been a source of inspiration for me" Brown said. "Not only is it a historic event—bringing two major English-speaking unions together, but the information that leadership and literature evangelists received has inspired and motivated us to cast deeper, as the theme suggests, to recognize the value and importance of this ministry as we seek to share the love of Jesus Christ with men and women everywhere.”
Local organizers sought to bring a more balanced perspective on the issue of literature evangelists' sales versus the primary mission of winning souls.
“The reason we chose the theme cast deeper is because colporteurs [or literature evangelists], are sometimes focused on the sale,” said Renisca Mutueel, Publishing Ministries director of the Curaçao Conference. “Literature evangelists are not just book sellers, they are soul winners. That’s why we used the term cast deeper, because literature evangelists have to cast deeper to go out, and seek souls,” she explained. “The sales they get is the blessing that comes from looking for souls,” explains Mutueel.
Literature evangelists distributed missionary books throughout communities in Curaçao. The congress was attended by leaders and presenters from Inter-America, North America, and South Africa.