Baptism at Popular Beach Sees 5,000 People Accept Jesus in Port Moresby

Ceremony crowned the last day of the PNG for Christ series across Papua New Guinea.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
Baptism at Popular Beach Sees 5,000 People Accept Jesus in Port Moresby
Up to 48 Seventh-day Adventist pastors baptized 5,000 people at Ela Beach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on May 11, on the closing day of the PNG for Christ evangelistic series across the country. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

The communication and AV teams setting up large speakers along Ela Beach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Friday night, May 10, tested the equipment and wrapped up around 4:00 a.m. on May 11.

By then, still in the dark of the night, the first Seventh-day Adventist church members were arriving for a massive baptismal ceremony scheduled to start at 7:00 a.m. Many walked for miles, and others used private vehicles, chartered transportation, and several other means to reach the place of the ceremony in time.

“There are 5,000 people waiting to be baptized,” organizers said, “and we must finish before noon, when the low tide will make baptism by immersion impossible.”

By the time the ceremony started, thousands of candidates, church members, leaders, and guests were already lining up and sitting on the wave breakers on both ends of the beach. The first 12 pastors began to baptize as regional church leaders prayed over the loudspeakers for those committing to God through the biblically mandated ceremony. A couple of hours later, 48 pastors were baptizing candidates. By 11:00 a.m., the ceremony was finished for the most part.

A Regional Event of Worldwide Impact

The baptism in the ocean was one of the ceremonies that crowned the last official day of the PNG for Christ 2024 evangelistic series. The project combined the efforts of Adventist World Radio, the Total Member Involvement initiative, the South Pacific Division and Papua New Guinea Union Mission of the Adventist Church, and local church fields to share the gospel across the country. According to organizers, international and national speakers preached at more than 2,000 sites, both in the eastern part of the New Guinea island (the western part belongs to Indonesia) and in other outer islands that make up PNG.

The April 26-May 11 series served as a “reaping campaign,” where participants shared the joy of welcoming thousands of new members after months of reaching out to their neighbors and friends to study the Bible and inviting them to make a decision for Jesus. Mass media such as Adventist radio and TV also supported the work of hundreds of pastors, lay church members, and Bible instructors on the ground.

Flawless Logistical Coordination

The May 11 baptism on Ela Beach was one of many concurrent closing ceremonies but probably the largest. The event required an impressive logistical organization that involved hundreds of regional church leaders, local church pastors, elders, deacons, and deaconesses and other volunteers for a seamless ceremony.

As the baptism unfolded, deacons and deaconesses helped on the beach, leading candidates in long lines toward the water. Other deacons stayed in the water, helping candidates to get to the pastors baptizing them and leading them back to the shore. Deaconesses waited on the shore with towels and flower garlands to embrace those coming out of the waters.

On one side of the beach, a pastor said a prayer over the loudspeakers every time pastors on the distant water showed by raising their hand that they were ready to baptize another candidate. Church choirs from the Adventist congregations in the area provided special musical items in between, which were broadcast through the generator-powered speakers along the shore and beyond.

“This is a spiritual feast,” a church member commented, “a spiritual feast as we have never seen.”

After the ceremony was done, there was still a lot of work to do for the massive group of volunteers.

“At least it’s the last day. Tomorrow you will finally be able to rest,” one of the visiting guests said to a local church member.

“Tomorrow?” he answered. “Tomorrow, we are launching our retention program for the new converts!”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review