May 13, 2024

Massive Baptisms Start Earlier at PNG Evangelistic Series Venue in Minj

People camped for weeks to attend the meetings led by GC president Ted N. C. Wilson.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
The first of several baptisms in Minj, Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea, on May 6 as part of the PNG for Christ 2024 evangelistic initiative. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Like the proverbial mail carrier who never gives up, neither long treks down the mountains nor persistent rains prevented hundreds of people walking for days and even camping for weeks to attend the PNG for Christ 2024 evangelistic series in Minj, Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea. Hundreds more from the surrounding villages flocked by foot or chartered other means of transportation to get to the open-air venue specially set up for the April 26-May 11 “Revelation of Hope” evangelistic meetings.

“People have been camping for weeks,” one of the organizers reported on May 6. “Some have been here for more than two weeks, and in a few cases, this is the fifth week they are camping.”

General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson led the evening messages, with the support of Adventist World Radio (AWR), the Communication Department of the PNG Union Mission, the local mission, and local churches.

Baptisms All Week

On the second and last week of meetings, regional church leaders realized that months of Bible studies had now resulted in a challenge: It would be impossible to baptize every person ready for baptism if they waited till the end of the week. Thus, they decided to start holding daily baptismal ceremonies for each church district in the area. On May 6, the first 152 people were baptized by more than a dozen pastors. In a three-hour ceremony on May 7, 457 more were baptized.

Among the ones who decided to surrender their lives to God and seal their commitment through baptism were some pastors and elders from other denominations. Several of them, who live in hard-to-reach mountain villages, only found out about the Adventist Church after reading their Bibles. “After years of pastoring my small congregation, I began to read my Bible, and I found and accepted the Sabbath truth,” Paul Kongiye, from the Jimi village in the mountains, said.

Eventually, Kongiye found out about the Adventist Church and the upcoming PNG for Christ meetings. He and other friends decided to come down from the mountain. They walked for days until they reached Minj, where they set up camp about a week before the beginning of the evangelistic meetings on April 26.

“Now I feel so happy because I can see I am part of a family. And when I come back, I have a message to share with my family and other villages on the other side of the mountain,” said Kongiye, who was baptized by Wilson.

The Importance of Water

In the evening of May 6, hours after the first baptismal ceremony of the week and not long after a tropical shower drenched the ground and tents, people began to gather in front of the massive stage set up for the series. Audiovisual assistants uncovered the speakers and the screens that had been protected from the rain. After the usual sound and light checks, the program began with praise and worship.

In the first part of the program, Nancy Wilson shared some health nuggets on the importance of water for the human body. “Water is essential for our bodies, both inside and outside,” she reminded the audience.

The spiritual presentation that evening by Ted N. C. Wilson addressed the meaning of a different event involving water: baptism by immersion, just as the Bible teaches it. “Some sprinkle candidates, and some use a pitcher. Some even use rose petals,” Wilson said. “But according to the Bible, there’s only one method of baptism, just as we practiced today.” In the next few minutes, he reviewed some of the biblical texts to support his claim.

Then the time came for the altar call. “If you are going to be baptized tomorrow, or the day after, please don’t come to the front,” Wilson instructed as the first few ventured closer to the stage. “But if you haven’t made a decision yet for Jesus, this is time to make it. Come, and I will pray for you.”

Dozens responded.