Papua New Guinea: Thousands of New Adventists Baptized in Single Day
Port Moresby campaign draws crowds in excess of 100,000. (Posted Sept. 4, 2012; updated Sept. 5, 2012)
 
BY ADVENTIST REVIEW staff

An evangelistic campaign in the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea has baptized between 4,500 and 5,000 people. Almost all of these are new to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


PREACHING: Seventh-day Adventist Pastor John Carter preaches to mammoth crowds in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. [Photo: The Carter Report, Inc.]
Attendance on the final night of the series in Port Moresby was well in excess of 100,000 people, reports indicate. (The staff was too busy to count the huge crowd.) A very high turnout would have amounted to nearly half the population of the city.

Organizers say this is the largest non-Adventist audience to listen to an English-language Adventist evangelistic meeting in history. The preacher was veteran Adventist evangelist John Carter. It was by far the largest audience he has addressed in his 50-year career as a public evangelist. The crowd was so large they couldn’t all fit in the giant Sir John Guise Stadium, a soccer (football) venue. Fortunately, the public address system was so powerful that many thousands were able to listen while sitting in their cars or standing outside.

A large group sat on the grass listening in the dark at another soccer field down the road. On the only night the people at this second football field were counted, there were 5,000 sitting there. The local conference hastily erected a giant screen so those at the second field could see the pictures that those inside could see. This effectively meant the program ran at two venues simultaneously. When altar calls were made, people ran from the second football field to the main stadium to make a commitment.


IN WATER BAPTISM: Thousands stand in lines in the water waiting for Adventist pastors 200 feet from shore to baptize them. Photo Beverley Carter. 
The baptism itself was a huge operation. There are 60 Adventist churches in the city of Port Moresby. The night before, pastors mingled with those who answered an altar call to be baptized. The pastors allocated each new convert to a specific local church. Then at the Sabbath morning baptism the baptismal candidates stood in lines with the other new converts allocated to the same church. So the very process of gathering them in their church groups helped bond the new converts together. Young people who were being baptized were allocated to separate lines so that they would bond with others the same age.


GIANT CROWD: A portion of of the crowd attending the evangelistic meetings. Photo: Susan Piraino
It was difficult to find enough pastors to baptize all these new converts. Ordained Adventist ministers who didn’t work for the local conference were called in to help. Fifty pastors stood in a line in waist-deep water about 200 feet offshore at a shallow South Pacific beach. Then lines of baptismal candidates dressed in white walked out toward them. About 5,000 people stood in the water together.

At a signal from the shore, the first 50 candidates were lowered under the water. A minute later another signal was given and 50 more were baptized. This continued until all were baptized. This process was surprisingly quick, with the ceremony itself taking little more than an hour.

Just as it was difficult to know how many were at the meetings, it was difficult to know how many were actually baptized. One count was 2,850 baptisms. This figure assumes that all pastors waited until the next signal from the shore before they baptized each candidate. 


SHIP AT BAPTISM: What did the sailors on this ocean-going ship think was happening when they saw so many people standing in the water? [Photo Don Sforcina]
The final program in the Carter Report series was held six hours after this baptism. At that meeting another 3,000 people requested baptism, and will be baptized later. However, if it had been possible to hastily organize another giant baptism the next day, the campaign would have baptized about 8,000 people in one weekend.

On August 18 the Seventh-day Adventist churches of Port Moresby could barely contain the crowds as new members attended their first Sabbath services, reports indicate.

“We had a wonderful, blessed Sabbath,” said Cameron Wari, coordinator of follow-up activities. “All the newly baptized members were welcomed by the churches as part of a big family.”

He added, “Most of the church leaders realized that there was not going to be enough room in their churches to accommodate the influx.”

The new members were given their baptismal certificates and the gift of a Bible.

                                                                                                        —with information from the Carter Report ministry.





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