Gateway Adventist Centre in Melbourne is drawing new converts thanks to their online presence, with four individuals recently committing their lives to Jesus through baptism.
Three from a Christian background—couple Tiana and Shaun, and David—as well as Bao from a Buddhist background, joined Gateway just before stage 3 restrictions were implemented in Victoria.
“We rejoice in the four baptisms despite the increasing COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria. Our Bible students turn to the God of hope in crisis,” said Gateway pastor Chris Moses.
Initially, it was planned that all four individuals would be baptised on the same day, but with religious gatherings restricted to 20 people, two separate baptisms were held so that as many friends and family members could attend as possible.
The first ceremony was held on Sabbath June 27 at the church’s weExplore centre of influence at Clayton, and also broadcast online. The second was scheduled for Sabbath 11 July, but with Melbourne going into stage 3 restrictions on Wednesday July 8 at 11:59pm, it was brought forward to Wednesday night, a few hours before the lockdown.
Despite the inconvenience of social distancing and health precautions, the candidates were able to share their conversion testimony to the congregation as well as to a wider livestream audience online. Social media was also used to further promote the service, and an online appeal was held after the baptism.
“[The separate baptisms] turned out to be a blessing,” said Gateway church member Johnny Wong. “We praise God that six people responded online that they too would like to be baptised in the future.”
“With the uncertainties of the pandemic, people’s hearts are looking for God, our Anchor in the storms of life. If restrictions are eased, we now have baptisms planned for the next two months!” said Pastor Moses.
Gateway Adventist Centre has now transitioned all of their content online, and have started running an online church on Sunday mornings (onlinechurch.melbourne). Their weExplore centre also runs online wellness courses—on mental and emotional health, cooking programs, and Bible Prophecy—which is operating as a channel of influence for the wider community.
To watch the baptism livestream, please visit the Gateway Facebook page.