What does it take for a group of South Florida volunteers to care for 5,000 foreign visitors in Miami for more than a week?
Now, multiply that by a factor of two.
“This might be the most profound display of love to a large group of foreign visitors that the city has ever seen,” said Ivan Fernandez, local spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For the second week this summer, Jehovah’s Witnesses from South Florida have been camping out in hotel lobbies and airport terminals, preparing food, making thousands of airport runs, rehearsing entertainment, hosting excursions, and caring for the needs of people they have never met before in their lives. Delegates typically stay in the city for as long as nine days.
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“They are strangers until the first embrace; then they become lifelong friends,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, adding that the 5,000 guests are hailing from some 30 countries. “It’s a life-changing experience for all.”
This is a second three-day “Love Never Fails” convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses being held at Marlin’s Park from July 5 to 7. It brings together some 27,000 people in peaceful worship, the majority of whom come from southern Florida who will host some 5,000 guests from more than 30 countries. The first convention was held during the week of May 20.
More than 10,000 volunteers have been caring for the guests while others are helping to turn Marlin’s Park into a house of worship for the convention. On Tuesday, the entire stadium was power-washed in preparation for an extensive move-in on Wednesday and Thursday, when trucks bring equipment to erect a stage, build video screens, and set up volunteer departments throughout the venue.
Once the convention begins on Friday, both foreign delegates and local congregants will be quietly sitting in their seats taking in a program of personal and spiritual refreshment in both English and Chinese Mandarin. Parts of the program will be streamed to other locations around the U.S.
A highlight of the convention, the baptism of hundreds of new congregants will be held Saturday using a pool that has been erected on the field.
The “Love Never Fails” Convention in Miami is part of the global convention series spanning six continents, 200+ countries in 400 languages. Millions of invitations have been distributed worldwide for the public at large to come to this free event.
“If you called this a modern-day miracle, you would be right,” said Hendriks. “This international spiritual family has no boundaries based on nation, race, ethnicity, or tongue. There is nothing like it in the world!”
Total Volunteers - 10,000+
Hotels: 1,400+ volunteers staffing 29 hotels from 6 am to Midnight providing assistance to delegates (4,000 shifts of 6 hours each.)
Airports: 3,300+ volunteers staffed airports 24hours a day while arrivals were happening.
Transportation: 450+ volunteers working 24hrs to transport delegates from airport to hotels. 70 buses running More than 96 routes each day
Scheduling: 1,250+ volunteers to maintain all of the delegates schedules from activities to transportation and to provide security
Activities: 2,000+ volunteers to greet and assist delegates at all 5 activities. 300 cast volunteers for the evening gathering.