Doug Batchelor marvels at gospel’s reach in Papua New Guinea

Doug Batchelor posing with baptismal candidates, in white, and others in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, on Sabbath, April 1. (Photo: Doug Batchelor)

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Doug Batchelor, the Seventh-day Adventist evangelist, is thrilled that 5000 people were baptised following a campaign in Papua New Guinea.

But what excites him even more is the high level of awareness and interest in the gospel that he detected there. This, he said, reflects the astonishing reach of the media and indicates that Jesus’ coming is very near.

“The thing that really impressed me is this is still a developing country, and I wasn’t prepared for the impact that media has had,” Batchelor told Adventist Mission. “The Spirit is truly moving there.”

He noted that Jesus declared in Matthew 24:14 that He would only return once the gospel had been preached throughout the world. The verse reads, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (NJKV).

Papua New Guinea is a prime example that satellite television and other media are allowing the gospel to reach the remotest corners of the Earth, Batchelor said. He said he has noticed similar inroads through media in closed countries in Asia and the Middle East.

Batchelor, speaker and director of US-based Amazing Facts, a supporting church ministry, flew with his wife, Karen, and other members of the ministry to the South Pacific nation for “reaping” evangelistic meetings after local Adventists had months of Bible studies in their communities.

Huge crowds

The size of the crowds that he saw were mind-numbing. About 10,000 people showed up at the airport in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, to welcome Batchelor when he landed for the March 29 to April 4 visit. Another 50,000 people lined the streets when he arrived at the site of the evangelistic meetings in Mount Hagen, the country’s third-largest city with a population of 46,250. As people poured in from surrounding districts, at least 150,000 packed a campground there to hear his final Sabbath sermon.

“I have never had an experience like this before,” Batchelor said.

Thousands of people greeting Doug Batchelor as he travels to a campground for evangelistic meetings in Mount Hagen.

But he expressed particular surprise that even isolated villagers recognised him.

“The thing that broke my heart was not just the crowds but one grandma in the jungle who screamed when she saw me,” he said.

On that day, Batchelor and his team drove into the mountains to film an “Amazing Fact of Faith” television program. They stopped at a grass hut to ask whether they could film outside. The elderly owner agreed, but her countenance changed once she saw who was asking.

“She came out, looked at me, screamed, and gave me a big hug,” Batchelor said. “She said, ‘I’ve been watching your programs for years. We never dreamed that you would be at our house!’”

Other villagers also told Batchelor that they had watched him on television or DVD for years, even in remote areas where their only source of power is a gas generator.

“That happened everywhere we went,” Batchelor said. “The Adventist message is making an incredible impact in Papua New Guinea.”

Across the country, people have access to the Adventist Church’s Hope Channel as well as 3ABN, which airs Batchelor’s Amazing Facts programs.

The Adventist Church has 252,000 members in Papua New Guinea, a country of nearly 8 million people, according to the Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics and Research. [pullquote]

Intense interest in Gospel

At the meetings, Batchelor said he saw intense interest in the gospel. He spoke of throngs of people sitting in the mud and in the rain, eager to hear the message even after the projector had shorted out.

“It seemed like we were just flooded by a mass of humanity hungering for the Word,” he said. “Many people walk for miles every night to hear the presentations.”

About 25 percent of attendees represented other faiths, he said. Many of them decided to attend after 10,000 Adventists carried out a massive city cleanup in the nearby town just before the start of the meetings.

“They wondered, ‘Who are those people who hauled all that trash out of the city?’” Batchelor said. “So, they came.”

On the last Sabbath, 1700 people were baptised in a river near the campground. Local facilities could not accommodate the other 3300 people ready for baptism, so they were baptised in their hometowns. Thousands more requested Bible studies in preparation for baptism.

People being baptised in a river near the campground where the evangelistic meetings were held April 1.

Batchelor said he left Papua New Guinea humbled by what he had witnessed and re-energised in his desire to share the gospel.

“It choked me up,” he said. “I thought, ‘These people are watching, and the Word of God is touching them.”

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