The Philadelphia Adventist Church has an international flavor. With services in French and Creole, the church serves a unique niche among Philadelphia immigrants whose native tongue is not English but who are required to keep the Apostle Paul’s mandate to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves.”
“It’s a plan of God,” said Elder Wadener Francois. “Our vision is to preach the gospel and win souls for Jesus.”
The church was established 15 years ago with a “small group of people” and grew gradually, Francois said.
“We believe in God and we trust Him, and we know that there are many difficulties and problems, but we know God will make it happen.”
Concerned about not speaking either French or Creole? You need not be — interpreters are available for English speakers.
“We are Haitian and so we speak Creole and French. The service order is always in French and Creole, both languages. But now we have integrated American people, so now we have three languages — French, Creole and English,” Francois said.
Like many churches, the building occupied by the Philadelphia Adventist Church needs restoration. The structure has no basement, and the church will have to build additional storage space to accommodate the needs of the community it plans to serve with ministries, programs and services.
“We seek for help,” said Francois.
Joseph Dorsainvil has been with Philadelphia Adventist since the beginning and wears several hats including that of interpreter.
“It is a Haitian church where we speak various languages — French, Creole and English — and also a church where we are winning souls for God,” he said.
“The goal, the purpose, is to win souls for God. We are here to receive people, those who are in need of Bible study, in need of understanding that God died for them on the cross, He came in flesh and did that so that all of humanity can be saved. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost and that is why we are on the corner of Lansdowne,” he said.
Community engagement is essential to faith-based groups, especially Christians who seek to replicate the works of Christ, who preached the gospel, fed the hungry, healed the sick and uplifted the downtrodden.
At one time the church had less outreach into the community, but things are beginning to change, Dorsainvil said.
“We have started to go out to [the community] instead of them coming to us. That’s why for the last three weeks we have been out there trying to reach out and let them know that we are here, that we are here to help and that we are here to share the love of God.”
While there are many needs, the most urgent is for salvation, and so the focus of the Philadelphia Adventists’ outreach is saving souls for Christ.
“We go and preach, we give flyers, we give books, we tell them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and want to provide them with Bible studies in their houses, or if they are sick in the hospital we go visit and assist them. In any way that we can and have the ability to do, we want to do that,” Dorsainvil said.
The outreach ministry began last year, and church members now take to the streets every weekend to witness for Christ.
Despite the church’s construction and need for physical renovations, Dorsainvil remains hopeful that God will provide.
“God has chosen someone out there to help this church, to help us rebuild the church. We believe that and I know whoever he or she is will get this message and reach out so that we can finish the construction,” he said.
Emmanuel Charles, a member of Loud Cry Missionaries, has been working with Philadelphia Adventists for a year.
“It began with our ministry, Loud Cry Missionaries. It’s a ministry that has been established for almost three years now and we came into contact with Philadelphia Church as we reached out to churches to help us when we began our initial outreach in New Jersey,” Charles said. “We met with Elder Francois and the rest has been history.”
Charles said the missionary group extended a call to as many churches as possible to assist their efforts, and that “Philadelphia Church was the one.”
The Loud Cry Missionaries is a ministry seeking to do the work of the Lord and fulfilling the commission of Jesus Christ in “the last days,” Charles said.
“God has called us to preach the everlasting gospel to every kindred nation, tongue and people. That obviously has to extend outside the four walls and that’s the loud cry. We actually go out into the street and preach the everlasting gospel as Christ has given us the commission to do so,” he said.
“One thing I appreciate about Philadelphia [Adventist Church] is that they really stand by their name. The word Philadelphia actually means ‘brotherly love’ and I have received a lot of that here,” Charles said.
Charles said he and the members of Philadelphia Adventists have worked on many projects and he has received significant support and assistance.
“It’s just been a growing connection, praise the Lord.”