Andrew Burrows, ATCU Communication Department
The Seventh-day Adventist community in the Bahamas, one of the territories of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), as well as local residents of the island nation are thanking God for the miraculous survival of five persons after the plane in which they were flying was forced to ditch in waters off of New Providence, an island of The Bahamas.
According to local media reports, on Monday, June 8, at approximately 5:00 p.m., the group left Pitts Town Airport in Crooked Island onboard a Cessna 172 aircraft. The pilot and passengers, who are all related and members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in the Bahamas, were traveling to New Providence.
Autoria Moss, one of the survivors, recalled that they were just about 11 minutes from New Providence when they heard and saw the only engine on the plane sputter and shut off. She recounted, with expressions of gratitude to God, how her cousin, Anthniqueko Gibson, the pilot of the aircraft, uttered, “We’re not going to make it.” Nevertheless, he took charge of the situation and instructed his brother, Andrew Gibson, to retrieve the life raft from the back of the aircraft and prepare for impact.
As the plane started to descend toward the water, Moss said it was more like a glide. “It almost felt like we were landing,” she said. At the time of impact, Moss was clutching eight-month-old Andre Gibson tightly against her chest. Once the plane was in the water, the other passengers were able to quickly release themselves from their seats and Moss handed the baby to his father, Andrew Gibson.
After impact, the plane started to sink beneath the water. “I was the last one out of the aircraft as I was unable to get my seat belt loose,” Moss continued. “I felt my Uncle Renzi (Lorenzo Moss) pulling my foot. By this time, I was submerged. It was only God guiding me at this point as I soon realized that the seatbelt was now around my chest area, and I wiggled my way out instead of trying to unbuckle the belt.”
Moss thanked God that the pilot was able to find a shallow part of the water. “Even though the plane eventually sank, my cousin was able to tie the rope from the life raft to the tail of the plane so that we would not drift away from the crash site,” she said.
Moss recalled the ray of hope they felt when within 10 minutes, a plane circled above them, and then a short time later a second plane did the same thing. However, darkness settled in, and it would be a while later before a helicopter circled twice nearby. Moss surmised that probably they could not see them in the dark because the light on the life vest was not working. Eventually, around 11:00 p.m., they got the light to work and within a few minutes, a United States Coast Guard helicopter headed towards them. “It had to be the light from the life vest that attracted them to us. It was such a relief,” she exclaimed.
Eventually, the group was picked up by a Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) patrol craft. They were transported to the RBDF base in Coral Harbor, New Providence where they received preliminary check-ups. Ambulances then took them to the local Princess Margaret Hospital for further medical tests and evaluation.
The incident impacted the family members of the survivors. Linda Nairn, the sister of Lorenzo Moss and Autoria Moss’ aunt, said, “The family was shaken at first, but now we are giving thanks for the miracle of survival.”
Pastor Howard Barr, the Seventh-day Adventist pastor on Crooked Island where the flight originated and the home of all the passengers, said, “It is only God’s intervention that spared the lives of these five persons. As we look back to Monday evening when news came that the flight did not arrive until now, we can only praise God.”
Communication Department, ATCU
During the second quarter of 2015, the Advance Magazine will feature articles, stories, and the experiences of persons from the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU). The Advance Magazine, compiled by the personal ministries department of the Inter-American Division, is a publication designed to encourage and inspire the laity of the church mainly during the ten-minute personal ministries time in all of the churches within the Inter-American Division.
This quarter’s edition features articles written by Pastors Leonard Johnson, ATCU president; Andrew Burrows, ATCU personal ministries director; Wilfred Adderley, South Bahamas Conference (SBC); Patrick Tyrill, North Bahamas Conference; and Reinaldo Dracket, Cayman islands Conference (CIC).
Inspirational experiences shared by Paris Williams, ATCU’s One Year in Mission delegate; SBC lay members David Knowles, David Williams, and Andrea and Bernard Linden; and David Campbell, a Bible Worker from CIC are also included.
Communication Department, ATCU
The spirit of evangelism continues its march across the Atlantic Caribbean Union. Just recently, the Cayman Islands Conference and the North Bahamas Conference (NBC) concluded evangelistic series in their respective territories.
In Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas, home to NBC headquarters, Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, preached at the Triumph of the Cross Evangelistic Series which was held under the big tent next to the Shiloh SDA Church. Sixteen precious souls were baptized and added to the church.
Also, for the past four weeks, the members of the Cayman Islands Conference were engaged in the Footprints of Hope Gospel Crusade. Pastor Glen Samuels, president of the West Jamaica Conference, was the guest evangelist. The crusade which was held at the Lions Center in George Town, Grand Cayman concluded on Sabbath, May 1 and saw over one hundred and fifty persons following their Lord and Saviour in baptism.
The Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist announced that 68 persons were baptized during its Footprints of Hope Evangelistic Campaign which is being held at the Lion Center in George Town Grand Cayman. The meetings which have been held nightly since April 3rd have seen hundreds of persons visiting each night to hear renowned tele-evangelist Pastor Glen O. Samuels deliver impassioned sermons on a wide range of topics.
“We are delighted for the 68 precious souls who have taken the step to commit their lives to Jesus”, stated Pastor Samuels at the baptismal service which was conducted at the Spots Beach on Saturday April 18th, 2015. “In this time of hopelessness in many areas of life it is good to know that we can find hope, purpose and direction in a life dedicated to the service of the Lord.”
Echoing these sentiments Pastor Shian O’Connor, President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventist stated that, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to offering a better way to those who long for a brighter future, to young people who see their peers succumbing to drugs and violence and despair, there is a better way, for families that are being ripped apart by strife and confusion, there is a better way, for a society that faces darkness and despair, there is a better way, and that better way can be found in a life surrendered to Jesus”.
The program billed “Footprints of Hope” runs from 7.30 PM each night except Thursday and offers a variety of features along with the preaching sermon.
The Adventists are noted for their health programs and this also forms a part of the activities including health lectures and health screenings during the meetings. There has also been a strong youth involvement in various aspects of the campaign with a cadre of young people serving as support staff and also hosting a weekly Saturday evening youth forum where they use drama and interactive discussions to address certain youth focused issues.
Also each Saturday morning the organizers allow residents to have access to their pastoral staff for a special dedication and laying of hands service for infants and young children. They are also given a certificate to commemorate the occasion.
Pastor Samuels is the President of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist in the Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventist where he leads out in the administration of the church’s activities in the western parishes of Jamaica. He also hosts weekly television program and has seen many persons join the church through his efforts. Pastor Samuels travels extensively to many parts of the world conducting evangelistic campaigns. He became famous in his homeland of Jamaica in 2003 when the national newspaper reported on an incident when he was held up by a gunman who he was able to convince not only to not harm him but to make the decision to change from his life of crime and become a Christian.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church today.
The Seventh-day Adventist church in the Cayman Islands commenced in the year 1894 after Gilbert McLaughlin, a Caymanian sea captain was converted and accepted the tenets of Adventism in Bonacca, Honduras and returned to East End, Grand Cayman and donated land for the first church. Today the Church has 15 congregations and over 5,000 members who come from all areas of the community. It is very active in preventative health initiatives and also has a department dedicated to child development and training.
The Church also owns and operates the Cayman Academy K-12 private school in George Town, which was recently featured on CITN for its recent outstanding examination results. The church also has an association of its business and professional members which caters to their networking and development along with their outreach efforts to their counterparts in the public and private sector.
Communication Department, NBC
In the North Bahamas Conference (NBC), the Triumph of the Cross Evangelistic Series kicked off on Saturday night, April 18, 2015, under the big tent next to the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church on Toreros Road, Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Individuals came from throughout the island to share in the experience of the Cross. Night after night, Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, has been lifting up the Cross and its power to change lives. Guests and members have been blessed and are looking forward to the second week of meetings that are held each night, except Friday, at 7:30.
An open invitation is extended to all.
Communication Department, ATCU
During the weekend of March 13-15, 2015, the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (ATCU) held its first Special Needs Summit at the Maranatha Seventh-day Church, in the South Bahamas Conference. The theme for the three-day event was “Jesus’ All Inclusive Kingdom.”
During the Friday night opening session, Mr. Leonard Cargill, assistant director in the departmental of social services, highlighted the Bahamas Government’s commitment in this area. He announced that the Bahamas Government would be building a school, on the island of New Providence, dedicated solely to children and adults with special challenges. He also commended the Seventh-day Adventist Church for hosting this event. “The church has an important role to play in creating awareness in this critical area for our nation,” he remarked.
The guest presenter for the event was Dr. Elvetha Derrick Telemaque, an adjunct professor at Herbert L. Fletcher University, the Inter-American Division’s online university. Throughout the meetings, she covered various presentations such as mental disabilities in adults and children, creating a disabled friendly church, nurturing a special needs culture, and ministering to families with autistic children. She indicated that the IAD is focused on taking this special needs seminar to all the unions within its territory.
Elder Allan Smith, the first elder for the Maranatha Church and a retired occupation therapist shared with the members how to create a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities. Each church should have appropriate ramps for wheelchair access, and bathroom facilities that that can accommodate a person in wheelchair. He further explained that people with disability challenges want to be able to function with as little assistance as possible.
Pastor Andrew Burrows, the Personal Ministries director for ATCU, and the facilitator for the summit, challenged the church to be inclusive in its ministry. During his Sabbath morning message, he utilized the story of the man who was blind from birth as recorded in John chapter 9. He emphasized that, like Jesus, we should see everyone as a person first. He said Jesus saw the man as a person, but the church leaders back then saw the man’s blindness as a problem and a stigma.
The meetings featured testimonies from caregivers who have family members with special needs such as autism, Downs syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, Desmond Brown, who is blind, demonstrated how he uses technology to find apps on his phone and to teach the Sabbath School lesson. “I am happy for the church’s emphasis on special needs at this time,” he beamed. “Our disability does not limit our ability to be used in God’s church,” he added.
At the conclusion of the meetings, Pastor Burrows outlined that the next step is to establish a Special Needs Committee in each of the fields within the union and also at the local churches. He said that this is something that was recommended some time ago. This summit was to sensitize and encourage us to go back and implement the ideas and suggestions. Pastor Burrows also recommended that each local field should host a similar event, utilizing the many persons who have expertise and experience in this area.
Communication Department, ATCU
It was an idea that emerged out of one of the Sabbath afternoon rap sessions that a group of young people usually had with their local church pastor. The discussion revolved around the use of cell phones in church and at school, and how to be smarter than the smart phones.
Alicia Dormeus, one of the regular nine participants, decided to include others in the talkback sessions by messengering on the popular social messenger platform "Whatsapp." Taking counsel from their pastor, Fritzgerald Francois, who advised them to include as many of their classmates and friends as possible, the group reached out to other young people of the social media generation. Eventually, a youth ministry club called “Let’s Get Smarter” was started.
Today, the young people of the Salem Seventh-day Adventist Church in Marsh Harbor, Abaco, The Bahamas use this youth ministry club to witness to approximately 75 members between the ages of 14 and 17 years.
Now utilizing other social media such as facebook, the young people discuss with their pastor a number of issues such as sexuality, identity formation, spiritual growth, and the beliefs of the church. Dormeus has a vision for the ministry.
"It is going so rapidly; we want to extend it to the entire Bahamas and the world. Why not?” she asks.
Because of the influence of this unique ministry, three young persons were baptized recently and are now members of the Seventh-day Adventist church.