Avondale seminarians’ professional placement in Mauritius results in baptisms

Avondale University Bachelor of Ministry and Theology student Katie Askin helps a local minister baptise one of the 68 people who publicly demonstrated their commitment to Jesus Christ. Credit: Ellsworth Baxen.

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An evangelistic campaign presented by Avondale University seminarians on Mauritius has revitalised churches, returned young adults to in-person worship and resulted in at least 68 baptisms.

The 10-day campaign in July “mobilised our members for evangelism” and “brought a fresh synergy into the local pastoral team,” said Pastor Ellsworth Baxen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the island.

Assigned their own site, each member of the Avondale team—eight students, three staff members from the seminary and two alum now working in pastoral ministry—preached sermons from John. The narrative nature of the Gospel helped the students combine exegesis (critical explanation) with homiletics (the art of preaching), reported lecturer Pastor Hensley Gungadoo, a Mauritian by birth.

Discovered by the Dutch but ruled by the French and the English, who brought people from Africa and from India as indentured labourers, Mauritius is a convergence of cultures and religions. “So, it’s an ideal place to challenge the sensitivity of our students,” said Pastor Gungadoo.

The cross-cultural immersion externship, as the seminary calls it, can be a transformative experience. Master of Ministry student Kate Suchanek describes it as “giving me a clarity about my call.” It also strengthened her faith. “God answered my prayers and gave me words to say. The gospel is powerful. Proclaiming it is one of the most thrilling things you can do in ministry.” An off-campus student completing the course by distance, she enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and of preparing presentations with classmates. “I wish I could have a sermon writing co-op every time I preach.”

Pastor Baxen described the contribution of the seminarians as “Spirit-led.” With more people preparing for baptism, the conference president expects the number publicly demonstrating commitment to Jesus Christ will grow.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to share the gospel and for God’s blessing as we did so,” said Pastor Gungadoo.

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