Seventeen inmates from the medium-risk prison in Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital city, were baptized on Sabbath, March 23, 2019, at Teoumaville Seventh-day Adventist Church as a result of the church’s prison ministry.
The inmates were escorted to the church by correctional officers in prison vehicles. A number of government dignitaries witnessed the baptism, including First Political Advisor of Internal Affairs George Naunun, and director of correctional services Johnny Marango. Elders from several Adventist churches in Port Vila were also present.
“The prison ministries from churches have made our rehabilitation programs effective,” Marango said. “It releases a lot of tension, [and] it has prepared them to go back to their communities as changed persons.”
Teoumaville is one of the churches on the island of Efate that is active in prison ministry. Head elder Jackson Miake said, “Our prison ministry has a leader who was nominated and voted in our meetings because we see the need in our prisons.”
Each Saturday (Sabbath), Jackson Noal and minister Jack Tahun have a one-hour worship program with the prisoners. Their ministry started a few years ago. In their program, they spoke about topics that motivated, encouraged, and brought hope to the inmates.
Tahun said, “We do this ministry because Jesus said in His Word, ‘When I was in prison you visited me.’”
Prior to the baptism, Teoumaville church pastor John Leeman presented a message on the life of Paul, with the 17 inmates and correctional service officers seated in the pews. Leeman said, “Sometimes God chooses people who are terrible sinners and changes them to men and women He could use in His work.”
Following the baptismal ceremony, a fellowship meal was served for everyone present.
Leaders reported that in 2018, two baptism ceremonies were conducted for inmates in the low-risk prison. Twelve inmates were baptized at Epauto Seventh-day Adventist Church, and another 12 were baptized inside the prison.