Avondale seminarians help bring baptisms to Samoans in Melbourne

Avondale seminarians with the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Victoria, Pastor Graeme Christian, on the final day of the ReThink Life evangelistic series.

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An evangelistic series presented in Melbourne by staff members and students from Avondale seminary has helped 31 people demonstrate commitment to Jesus Christ through baptism.

The seminarians partnered with seven local Seventh-day Adventist churches to present ReThink Life this past month (June 16-24), reaching second- and third-generation Samoans in Australia and their friends.

Ministry practicum directors Dr Erika Puni and Pastor Neil Thompson each led a team of five students, one based in St Albans in the west and the other in Campbellfield in the north. The students, enrolled in a unit called Discipleship and Evangelism, presented half the meetings with Dr Puni and Pastor Thompson presenting the rest.

Lusi Sione spoke on the first Sabbath of the series, using Daniel 2 as the basis of his presentation. According to the Bachelor of Ministry and Theology student, public evangelism still has its place because it leads people to make a commitment. “If something I said encouraged a decision for baptism, I praise God, because it’s the moving of His Spirit that brings transformation.”

A banquet on the Thursday appealed, with 180 people attending to learn about relationship enrichment. Then both sites joined in a hired venue for the final meetings, a Sabbath celebration that included the baptism. Some of the 31 getting baptised were church-attending young adults; others had not attended since their youth. Some were of other faiths or of no faith. “All wanted to change the story of their lives and to walk with Jesus,” said Pastor Thompson.

Adventist Church in Victoria president Pastor Graeme Christian attended the baptism and praised Avondale for supporting local church mission in his Conference. Dr Puni praised ministers Tauae Poasa and Apelu Tanuvasa who, with their church members, organised the series and led the pre-campaign work.

According to Pastor Thompson, the series changed perceptions about public evangelism and about the ability of students to present it. “At the beginning of the year, the church members didn’t want to try public evangelism and didn’t want the students to speak. At the end of the series, they didn’t want the meetings to stop. They loved every student’s presentation.”

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