The first nine people have been baptized as unprecedented Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic meetings kick off across Japan, a country of 127 million people but only about 15,200 Adventists.
Japanese evangelists, joined by several visiting world church leaders, are leading Total Member Involvement meetings at 161 sites from May 4-20.
The first baptisms occurred at sites where meetings began earlier than the rest of the country.
“God will bless all across Japan,” said Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, who is conducting an evangelistic series at Amanuma Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tokyo. “This is only the beginning.”
Two people were baptized at meetings led by Almir M. Marroni, director of the Adventist world church’s publishing ministries department, at Yaizu Seventh-day Adventist Church, a congregation of Brazilian and Peruvian immigrants in the city of Yaizu, located 120 miles (190 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo. One more person is scheduled to be baptized at the church later in May.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate, and I plan to return next year for a follow up at the same church,” said Marroni, a Brazilian national who preached in Spanish.
The nightly meetings were broadcast live on the church’s Facebook page from April 25 to May 5 and garnered more than 3,000 views.
Five people were baptized at meetings led by Adventist World Radio’s region coordinator, Surchet Insom, while two were baptized at meetings led by G.T. Ng, executive secretary of the Adventist world church. A third baptism is planned at Ng’s site later in May.
Bible studies have been held in the months leading up to the evangelistic meetings, and some attendees at the newly opened meetings are already eager to be baptized. Six people responded to a baptism call at Okinawa meetings led by Duane McKey, Total Member Involvement coordinator for the Adventist world church and president of Adventist World Radio.
“Our work here in Okinawa is going well, with six to eight visitors coming,” McKey said. “We are also praying that the Lord will bless in a special way all across this wonderful country.”
About 20 visitors attended the first night of meetings at the Tokyo church where Wilson is speaking. His wife, Nancy, a physical therapist, is opening the meetings with health presentations.
Opening night turnout at Tokyo International Church was so large that organizers live-streamed the program, led by Artur Stele, a general vice president of the Adventist world church, into an overflow room.
Church leaders have appealed to Adventists worldwide to pray for the Japan meetings, which follow similar Total Member Involvement evangelistic campaigns in Romania in 2017 and Rwanda in 2016. The Rwanda event resulted in 110,000 baptisms.
Total Member Involvement is a world church initiative that encourages each of the church 20 million members to lead someone to Christ. Church leaders are praying that the initiative will help make inroads in Japan, which is dominated by the Shinto and Buddhism religions.
Guillermo E. Biaggi, a general vice president of the Adventist world church, said he was heartened to hear about the initial baptisms in Japan and was praying daily for the meetings.
“The good news is that our Lord Jesus Christ already prayed for all His children in Japan,” he said, recalling Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17:20. Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (NKJV).
“God bless those who have baptized, the many others who are considering baptism, and the thousands in whom the Holy Spirit is working to make a decision for Christ,” Biaggi said.