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August 2012

Massive Baptism Tomorrow

We have a major problem for tomorrow’s giant baptism in Port Moresby. We don’t have enough pastors to do the job.

When John Carter was asked how many people would be baptized, he said he had no idea. However, it’s clearly going to be a lot.

Five thousand people pledged to be baptized at last night’s Carter Report meeting. Many of those would not be ready yet to make the move and so they will be baptized later. Thus, guessing at the numbers is pure speculation.

However, this is speculation in which we must indulge. It would be irresponsible not to do so. There’s a huge difference in the amount of behind-the-scenes work for five baptisms and 500. So to avoid chaos, we must plan for the largest possible numbers wanting to be baptized tomorrow. But we have to have a mindset that we won’t be disappointed by more modest numbers.

What we can say is that there will be an amazingly large crowd of witnesses. And I’m not just talking about heavenly angels looking on. We expect most Seventh-day Adventists in Port Moresby will line the shores tomorrow to witness the event. Attendance at the nightly meetings has been 120,000. It would be a surprise if most of them didn’t come tomorrow.

So apart from the logistics of arranging the baptism itself, imagine the logistics of catering for such a large crowd of onlookers! Everything they need while standing on the shore for three or four hours must be supplied.

And we still have the problem of not enough pastors to do the job. The Adventist Church Manual allows local church elders to baptize in exceptional circumstances. And almost everyone would agree that tomorrow will be exceptional.

There will be a large support team on the shore keep name and address details of people being baptized. There will be a long line of Adventist pastors standing in almost-waist-deep in the water. And there will be another large team on the shore with towels to dry those just baptized.

When it begins, dozens of people will walk into the water in a straight line parallel to the shore. Each will meet with a pastor, who will privately give them some encouraging words. On the shore, John Carter will repeat the command to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then those dozens of people will be fully lowered under the water.

As these newly-baptized Christians walk to the shore, dozens more will walk into the water in anoter straight line. Then dozens more. The process will continue again and again until all who want to be baptized are baptized.

The baptisms will start mid-morning Satuday Port Moresby time. (That’s Friday afternoon USA time.) And it’s expected to continue into the early afternoon.

REPORT WRITTEN 4 pm. Friday August 10, 2012 (Port Moresby time). 11 p.m. Thursday California time.

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