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August 2012

Strong follow-up underway

Port Moresby’s 60 Adventist Churches couldn’t contain the crowds as newly-baptized people attended for the first time last Sabbath.

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

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

The new members were given their baptismal certificates and a gift of a Bible from the Carter Report. (Bibles are so expensive in Papua New Guinea many people cannot buy one.)

After the morning church services, old members and new gathered together for what they call “a bung lunch.” The getting-to-know-you programs lasted all afternoon and into the evening.

At night, the new members gave their testimonies about their lives and their new Christian experience. There was one amazing story after another. The existing members were astonished by what they were hearing. Some churches didn’t want to stop their testimony programs – so they’ll continue them next weekend. They were such an amazing blessing.

As part of the follow-up, all of Port Moresby’s local church pastors will run Bible study classes for the new members. The new converts all seem very excited and are looking forward to learning more.

A batch of DVDs providing resources for nurturing new members have just arrived from Australia. They’re now being given to local pastors to help them in their astonishing task. After all,, each of them now has a role few church pastors worldwide have ever undertaken. They have to lead the their congregations nurturing of 50 or 100 people who all joined the church on the same day.

Research from elsewhere in the world shows that if people who are baptized don’t make six new friends in six months, they will leave the church. Local Conference president Pastor Tony Nemo says the same applies in his culture. And he is taking steps to make sure existing church members make friends with the new members.

Judging by the activities of last Sabbath, there’s already been a lot of bonding between the old and the new. In fact, many of the new members would have their six new friends already.

“This is a tremendous story,” says evangelist John Carter. “The churches could not hold the people.”

Accommodation will be a major problem. Pastor Nemo says he almost immediately wants two new churches buil in the city. And they will obviously need a lot more than that as soon as it can be arranged.

(If you want to help financially, make an online donation here at the Carter Report website. Click on https://www.cartereport.org/donate. Then select “other” and type in “Port Moresby” to say where you want your gift to go.)

The people of Papua New Guinea aren’t particularly interested in keeping statistics. And they are the first to say this is so. It’s not a big issue for them. So we still don’t have totally clear statistics on the number of baptisms at the Carter Report meeting.

Pastor Cameron Wari has managed to collect statistics from half the area’s churches about how many baptisms they’ve had. Their figures add up to 2000. How many baptisms will the total be? “I have no idea,” says John Carter. “We don’t yet know what the other half of the churches had.” However, John sees that each time we get a more accurate way of counting the baptisms, the number goes up. “We may eventually find that we had more than 3000,” he said.

For the moment, at this website we are staying with the revised total of 2850. But for those of us in countries dazzled by statistics, it will be interesting to see if there were 3000.

After all, 3000 is how many baptisms there were at Christianity’s first evangelistic campaign on Pentecost Day. Could Port Moresby be another Pentecost? Let's wait and see.

 

WRITTEN 9.30 p.m. Monday August 20, 2012 (Port Moresby time). 4.30 a.m. California time.

 

 

 

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