Baptism at popular beach sees 5000 people accept Jesus in Port Moresby

Up to 48 Seventh-day Adventist pastors baptised thousands of people at Ela Beach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on the closing day of the PNG for Christ evangelistic series. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

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The communication and AV teams setting up large speakers along Ela Beach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Friday night, May 10, tested the equipment and wrapped up around 4am on May 11.

By then, still in the dark of the night, the first Seventh-day Adventist church members were arriving for a massive baptismal ceremony scheduled to start at 7am. Many walked for miles, and others used private vehicles, chartered transportation and several other means to reach the place of the ceremony in time.

“There are 5000 people waiting to be baptised,” organisers said, “and we must finish before noon, when the low tide will make baptism by immersion impossible.”

By the time the ceremony started, thousands of candidates, church members, leaders, and guests were already lining up and sitting on the wave breakers on both ends of the beach. The first 12 pastors began to baptise as regional church leaders prayed over the loudspeakers for those committing to God through the biblically mandated ceremony. A couple of hours later, 48 pastors were baptising candidates. By 11am, the ceremony was finished for the most part.

A regional event of worldwide impact

The baptism in the ocean was one of the ceremonies that crowned the last official day of the PNG for Christ 2024 evangelistic series. The project combined the efforts of Adventist World Radio, the Total Member Involvement initiative, the South Pacific Division, Papua New Guinea Union Mission and local church fields to share the gospel across the country. According to organisers, international and national speakers preached at more than 2000 sites, both in the eastern part of the New Guinea island (the western part belongs to Indonesia) and in other outer islands that make up PNG.

The April 26-May 11 series served as a “reaping campaign,” where participants shared the joy of welcoming thousands of new members after months of reaching out to their neighbors and friends to study the Bible and inviting them to make a decision for Jesus. Mass media such as Adventist radio and TV also supported the work of hundreds of pastors, lay church members, and Bible instructors on the ground.

Flawless logistical coordination

The May 11 baptism on Ela Beach was one of many concurrent closing ceremonies but probably the largest. The event required an impressive logistical organisation that involved hundreds of regional church leaders, local church pastors, elders, deacons and deaconesses, and other volunteers for a seamless ceremony.

As the baptism unfolded, deacons and deaconesses helped on the beach, leading candidates in long lines toward the water. Other deacons stayed in the water, helping candidates to get to the pastors baptising them and leading them back to the shore. Deaconesses waited on the shore with towels and flower garlands to embrace those coming out of the waters.

On one side of the beach, a pastor said a prayer over the loudspeakers every time pastors on the distant water showed by raising their hand that they were ready to baptise another candidate. Church choirs from the Adventist congregations in the area provided special musical items in between, which were broadcast through the generator-powered speakers along the shore and beyond.

“This is a spiritual feast,” a church member commented, “a spiritual feast as we have never seen.”

After the ceremony was done, there was still a lot of work to do for the massive group of volunteers.

“At least it’s the last day. Tomorrow you will finally be able to rest,” one of the visiting guests said to a local church member.

“Tomorrow?” he answered. “Tomorrow, we are launching our retention program for the new converts!”

Originally published as “Baptism at Popular Beach Sees 5,000 People Accept Jesus in Port Moresby” on the Adventist Review website.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review

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