Baptisms across PNG Mark First Week of Evangelistic Meetings

Ceremonies in multiple sites welcome hundreds of new believers, leaders reported.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
Baptisms across PNG Mark First Week of Evangelistic Meetings
Retired ADRA leaders Wally Amundson (second from right) prays for one of the candidates before baptizing him at one of the evangelistic venues in Mount Hagen, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, on May 4. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist church members, guests, regional church leaders, and guest speakers filled dozens of open-air venues in Mount Hagen, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea on May 4 for a special Saturday (Sabbath) program.

As the nationwide PNG for Christ 2024 evangelistic series, co-sponsored by Adventist World Radio, completed the first of two weeks of meetings, people flocked to several creeks and makeshift baptismal pools to witness hundreds of candidates be submerged in the waters to be symbolically born into a new life in Christ.

“When you accept Jesus and allow Him to live in you, He will transform every aspect of your experience,” Jeffrey Brown, an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference and guest speaker at the Gomis Oval, told the 87 candidates who would be baptized later that day. “Your family will notice that something has changed. The way you manage relationships will change. The way you manage finances will change. Every aspect of your experience will be affected.”

Accepting Jesus to follow Him is the best decision you can ever make, Brown emphasized, addressing not only the candidates but those who still need to take Bible studies and prepare for baptism. At the time of the altar call, dozens of people came to the wooden stage as an expression of their desire to prepare themselves for a future baptismal ceremony.

God’s Providence in Action

The subsequent baptism crowned a first week of evening meetings at one of dozens of venues across the area, and thousands across PNG. A few hours, later, however, it hadn’t looked so good as an overnight rain filled part of the venue with mud and puddles. But on May 4, people came early to the meeting and did their best to avoid the mud as the sun shone again.

The meetings at Gomis Oval presented another challenge, local leaders shared, as the place is adjacent to, and even partially overlaps, a rugby practice field. While meetings during weekdays didn’t pose a major problem, organizers found out along the way that a special practice and match was planned for the field on Saturday.

Without much leverage in the case, they decided to pray earnestly for God to intervene. “We prayed and prayed,” they shared. “And God opened a way before we did anything else.” Organizers shared then how the people behind the rugby event contacted them.

“We heard that you will be also having special meetings at Gomis Oval on Saturday,” they told Adventist leaders. “We just want to let you know that we have decided to move our activities elsewhere.” Adventist leaders and members praised God for moving circumstances on their behalf.

In Creeks or Makeshift Baptismal Pools

In and around Mount Hagen, several rivers with abundant waters became places where church members gathered after worship on May 4 to welcome dozens of members through baptism. Local and guest pastors shared the responsibility of baptizing those who had been getting ready through ongoing Bible studies to prepare for the ceremony.

Local church deacons, deaconesses, and elders stood by to assist at every step of the ceremony. Each candidate walked to the baptismal pool hand in hand with, or braced by, a deacon or deaconess, who then waited for them to exit, to embrace them and lead them away.

“You have accepted Jesus and have renounced your past life of sin,” Wally Amundson, a retired ADRA leader and guest speaker at one of the Mount Hagen venues, told one of the candidates before submerging him in an open-air, makeshift baptismal pool. “Now you will be a new creature in Christ.”

According to leaders, baptisms already taking place are the result of months and even years of concerted efforts. “PNG for Christ actually began last year, with evangelistic series and baptisms even before the start of the year,” leaders explained.

Now in 2024, the multi-pronged approach is focused not only on new interests but also on reaching out to those who, for various reasons, have stopped attending church or have drifted away from the faith. And together with the evangelistic meetings, leaders are working on preservation efforts to integrate new members and help them stay firm in the faith.

“Our efforts have sought to engage every member for mission,” local leaders explained. “Every member involved; everyone doing something for Jesus.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review