São Tomé and Princípe is a small country located on the seacoast of West Central Africa, just under the equator. With a population of approximately only 200,000, São Tomé and Príncipe is a peaceful country. It has few cities, but its population is heartwarming, welcoming, and open to the gospel. More than 50 percent of the country’s 200,000 residents live below the poverty line.
The Adventist church in São Tomé can potentially grow. People easily accept the gospel. The problem is they need real churches. The church members are missionaries and active. Because of that, the church has grown in number of members, but the church facilities have not grown in proportion. It is one of the challenges faced by the Adventist Church.
Today, there are officially more than 7,000 Adventists in São Tomé and Príncipe, although locals say the number is close to 8,000. They make up 100 groups and congregations meeting in the country. Yet only 20 have permanent places of worship. Many of them are meeting in borrowed spaces.
The Adventist Church in São Tomé has set a goal of reaching half of the country’s population for Christ.
The Adventist Church in São Tomé has set a goal of reaching half of the country’s population for Christ. In order to reach that goal, the project “São Tomé and Príncipe for Christ 2014” was born. These were groups of theology students from Brazil who came to conduct many evangelistic meetings in June 2014. The result was that on Saturday the 28th of June, the Word of God once again was fulfilled and for His Honor and Glory, 968 precious souls gave their lives to Jesus through baptism.
But what about the building of churches to accommodate the growth of members? The São Tomé and Príncipe Seventh-day Adventist Mission appealed to Maranatha for help. Since 2018 Maranatha has sent groups to build new church structures.
According to the local Adventist leadership, the message first came to São Tomé and Príncipe in 1936 through the work of a colporteur and literature evangelist named Jose Frei from Portugal. It is said that Frei found no Adventists when he arrived and joined an evangelical group to meet with them on Sundays, in addition to his own Sabbath worship. The Sunday church group found out that Frei was a pastor and since their pastor was away for a holiday, they asked him to conduct the services. He preached for three Sundays and introduced the Sabbath message on the fourth Sunday. About half of the congregation accepted the message and the church was split in two. This was the first Adventist group. From then on, missionary pastors from Portugal arrived in São Tomé every three years until 1974.
This is the first large quantity of Bible lessons the church has ever received.
Now, many years later, another “Jose Frei” in the form of a container of literature from Light Bearers Ministry arrived in São Tomé. This is the first large quantity of Bible lessons the church has ever received. They never had any Bible lessons to share in São Tomé before. To the Adventist mission these Bible lessons will be an invaluable evangelistic resource and will help fill the churches being built by Maranatha. The time is ripe.
Light Bearers sent Meiring Pretorius, Publishing Correspondent for Light Bearers Ministry, to train the church leadership on how to use the literature. With a little bit of training in how to use these Bible lessons effectively these church members will have the tools to have a wider evangelistic reach on a more personal level. If the 8,000 church members embrace the TMI initiative (Total Member Involvement), the Holy Spirit will touch the lives of the 200,000 people on the island. We know that God will work miracles through these lessons.
During the training a strategic plan was made to use the Bible lessons as a seed sowing tool for another big public evangelism campaign in 2021, organized by the Division. The church is requesting Light Bearers Ministry to partner with them in this event by providing another two containers of Bible lessons before the 2021 event. These Bible lessons will prepare the soil and sow the seed so that by faith the Holy Spirit will cause a huge revival in 2021.