Royce Williams/Brenton Stacey/ANN
Some 2,300 people were baptized on Ela Beach in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, at the end of the ACTS 2001 satellite evangelistic program, July 21. An estimated 40,000 people witnessed the ceremony, which concluded what the local media has called the nation’s “largest ever evangelistic program.”
Sixty ministers waded a meter into the water to perform the baptisms as Seventh-day Adventist evangelist Mark Finley, speaker for the two-week series, gave the baptismal address from a platform on the beach. He welcomed those being baptized to the worldwide Adventist Church. Church presidents Laurie Evans, representing the church in the South Pacific, and Wilson Stephen, from Papua New Guinea, also welcomed the new members.
Sir Silas Atopare, Governor-General of Papua New Guinea and an Adventist, appealed to fellow church members to be faithful and to act as witnesses to others in the community.
John Pundari, Papua New Guinea’s foreign affairs minister and a member of the Adventist Church, says that nurture of new members is now a vital consideration. “It’s important [the Church does this] because broken families have been united, and well-ordered families means a well-ordered society.”
An estimated 150,000 people have been baptized as a result of the 10 ACTS programs, which since 1999 have been uplinked by satellite from cities as diverse as Los Angeles, California, United States, to Santiago, Chile. The series has been a joint initiative of “It Is Written” broadcasting, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and lay-Adventist groups.
“I’m human, but with every place I go, I need to live in the moment, making the most of every opportunity to speak to a group,” says Finley, who has been the main presenter for each of the ACTS evangelistic series. He adds that every time he speaks, he treats it as if it were his only opportunity to communicate. “The exhilaration overrides the tiredness,” says Finley.