God used technology to reach Darlene, Karen, Christopher, who were baptized. They are pictured with Green Bay Pastor, Cory Herthel.
It turns out 2021 was a banner year for baptisms. The number of baptisms, profession of faith and re-baptisms numbered 225 last year, the most in nine years.
Ministerial director Adam Case says this surprising record number of baptisms is proof that, “God doesn’t need our plans to do big things.” He further explained that last year they didn’t spend anywhere near what they normally would for evangelism and were not even closely tracking baptism numbers. “Lo and behold, this just snuck upon us,” he said. “It just happened with people doing faithful work in a Covid environment.”
Case says that there are about 2,600 people in Wisconsin pews each Sabbath and the baptism numbers indicate a growth rate of 8 percent, which is remarkable for a small conference.
Wisconsin Conference is the smallest of the Lake Union conferences, with 63 churches and a membership of 7,798, as of June 30, 2021, according to AdventistYearbook.org.
With just a month into the new year, already 10 baptisms were recorded, including three family members who watched a sermon series on the Green Bay Church’s Facebook page and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Here is their story, as told by Pastor Cory Herthel and published by the Wisconsin Conference:
This past October and November we presented a series at the Green Bay Church entitled “End-Time Messages from Jesus.” The focus of this program was to engage the participants in a doctrinal study focusing them on the importance of a completely sold-out relationship with Jesus. After all, merely accepting information from an intellectual basis is not enough. Jesus makes this abundantly clear when He addresses the “rich young ruler” that desired to know what it would take to secure his place in eternity.
As plans came together for our series, we spent time praying that God would lead the right participants to us that were ready to hear these messages. We had no idea what attendance would be like given the culture that COVID-19 has produced. However, we decided not to focus on numbers. Instead, we focused on the mission and the message.
As we usually do, we live-streamed this service on the church’s Facebook page and prayed that God would reach as many as possible. And, He did just that! As the series was drawing near to its end, we received a text message to our church’s phone number (we use MagicJack instead of traditional landline). The message read: “Will Pastor Cory baptize me?” Since this message came from an unrecognized number to the church, we had no idea who it could be.
Within a day or two I called the number and on the other end was Karen. I told her that I was Pastor Cory and that I was thrilled to have received her message. We talked for a few minutes and right away she invited me to come for a visit and talk about her decision for baptism.
When I arrived at Karen’s home, I was also greeted by her mother, Phyllis and sister-in-law, Darlene. During our visit, I learned that Phyllis had become an Adventist some years back when living out west and she had now introduced both her daughter and daughter-in-law to God’s Word and they had been watching “End-Time Messages from Jesus” together on Facebook! Up to this point, neither Karen nor Darlene had attended the church in person. But, they both had given their hearts to Jesus and made their decisions for baptism!
In addition to these two ladies making their decision, Darlene’s grandson, Christopher had also made his decision for Jesus! What an awesome day this was. The Holy Spirit had touched three hearts and they reached out to us for baptism. After a few visits, these three were ready. We planned their special day for Sabbath, January 22. And it turned out to be a beautiful celebration.
It is incredible to see how God’s hand works. So often we have no idea what is going on in the background of what we are doing in ministry. Even though we had a fairly steady in-person attendance during the series…God used the tool of technology to reach three people from a remote location. And we give Him all the praise for these souls won to Him through this witnessing on the web.
Cory Herthel, Pastor of the Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, with the Lake Union Herald staff