Baltimore, USA [J. Camille, CD-EUDNews]. It was time well spent in Baltimore at the GAIN Conferences (Global Adventist Internet Network) on February 12-16. Representing around forty countries of the world, more than 230 pastors, IT directors, Communication directors, and others, gathered in the Maritime Conference Center, Baltimore, MD. “It's really astounding to see how much our church has grown around the world. Many new souls are added daily our church by including the use of technology, as promoted by GAIN,” said Jethro Camille, Communication Director, North France Conference of Seventh-day Adventist (Adventists).
What was the conference about? Serving through new means of communication, many NTIC experts presented brilliant ideas, concepts and methods on how the gospel should be spread first to screens, then to hearts and minds. This can include games (search "Heroes" on Apple store to check it out).
“Gamification was one of the new ideas brought to this 2014 Congress,” said Corrado Cozzi, Communication director at the Inter-European Region (EUD). “It is not only about entertainment by proper selection, but games can be used to teach values”, according to McDaniel, Fiore & Nicholson, who affirmed: ‘Every research conducted indicates that games are the most engaging mediums of digital storytelling’.”
Spiritual insight and many new ideas were shared at GAIN 2014. These included videos, social media, networking, marketing, evangelizing through the net, worldwide online events (like Global Youth Day, see: www.facebook.com/AdventistGlobalYouthDay
“So much information… we will have to go back, study and try visualizing their real importance and depth,” said Jethro Camille. “Fortunately, in the near future, anyone can go to gain.adventist.org and see the videos that will soon be online.”
Our world, society and lifestyle is changing rapidly. Since the majority of people extensively use new communication technologies, missionaries can't afford not to. For example, Kenya's Unions of Adventists have noticed a significant rise in donations since the use "M Pesa", an online and mobile money transfer system. Anybody can give at anytime by using a simple phone!
However, Ben Schoun, Adventist worldwide vice-president affirmed: "Technology is an excellent servant, but a terrible master", making all present think about the potential addictions and damages that the “screen” can inflict on our world when misused, but also all the blessings they can bring when properly used.
The keynote of the whole Conference was the topic of 'Technological Innovation', presented by Martha Gabriel, Phd, one of the most influential professionals in digital marketing. “Her presentation was the highlight of the conference, her expertise and level of knowledge was extremely helpful,” said Valeriu Petrescu, Hope Channel Romania Director.
Evangelism was the theme of the meeting. The main topics presented were on ‘Evangelism in Big Cities’.
“It was very encouraging to hear testimonies about Adventist mission work in big cities, especially in New York where the church is growing. Big cities are the nest of secularism. People living there need the Gospel and God’s love desperately. I also live in a big city and have been encouraged by the GAIN Conference. I will work with secular people in my own home town through media, internet and TV” said Csaba Cack, Communication Director at Adventist Czech Union.
“We also had some free time to exchange business cards, pray, share ideas, projects, experiences and plans. There is so much wealth and talent in God's church,” affirmed Jethro Camille. A visit to one of the biggest aquariums in the world, in Baltimore, was included in the program. This indirectly introduced the two Creation projects: 'Animal Encounter' (a TV program on South Africa animals, see www.AnimalEncounter.tv) and 'Creation' (the account of the seven days of creation, see www.daretobelieve.com). 2014 was selected by the Adventist church as the Creation year, and all Communication Departments are encouraged to promote it through any media possible.
Williams Costa Jr, Communication Director at the Adventist General Conference was the initiator of the GAIN concept that started 11 years ago. He expressed his gratitude to Dr. Milton Soldani Alfonso, Adventist lay member, for the visionary support of thousands of people and institutions, enabling the use of communication and technology to fulfill the mission of the Adventist church. A NET Award was granted to Dr. Milton Soldani Alfonso by Pastor Ted Wilson, President of General Conference of Adventist.
Pastor Monteiro blessed us with worship services before the meetings. He was recently released from prison, the whole church stood by him praying earnestly for 22 months. When he said, "I was not in prison, I was in mission!" the conference applauded appreciatively.
"This GAIN conference was a wonderful opportunity to witness the progress the church has achieved as a result of modern media technology," affirmed Sascha Schuster, Internet Department Director at Stimme der Hoffnung, EUD Media Center (SdH). And Wolfgang Schick, SdH Media Producer, commented “It was very encouraging to see many new projects all around the world. If we can unite our ideas and energy, we could achieve anything.”
pictures: 1.Dr. Milton Soldani Alfonso, Adventist lay member and business man with Ted Wilson, President of the General Conference; 2. Martha Gabriel, Phd, one of the most influential professionals in digital marketing; 3. Williams Costa Jr, Communication Director at the Adventist General Conference; 4. The Auditorium; (credits: Corrado Cozzi)