Baptisms and Reconciliation in Vanuatu

26 Apr 2016
Baptisms and Reconciliation in Vanuatu

More than 2000 people were baptised at the conclusion of the Vanuatu Mission’s “PV14: Hope For Port Vila” city-wide evangelistic campaign. 

Member of Parliament for Port Vila, Ralph Reganvanu, opened the meetings at Freshwota Field on August 24. 

The three-week campaign, which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “Mission to the Cities” initiative, finished on September 13.

More than 3000 Adventists paraded through the suburbs of Port Vila before the opening ceremony.

New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) Church Ministries (Cluster) leader, Pastor Jean-Noel Adeline, was the main presenter, while South Pacific Division Health Ministries associate director, Dr Chester Kuma, backed him up with presentations on health. 

On the final Sabbath of the program, 2098 people in Port Vila, Santo, Malekula and Tanna were baptised, and the following morning, 115 more were added to that number after a final sermon. Included among those baptised were 18 low-risk prisoners (pictured above)(one female), who were allowed to take part in the baptism after they had followed the program on HopeChannel. Many people left their homes and went down to be baptised after watching the whole series on HopeChannel and hearing the call. Prominent community members were also baptised including two non-Adventist pastors (one with his whole family), the acting Director General for the ministry of Health, a former director of finance in the ministry of Education, and the wife of a cabinet minister.

HopeChannel broadcast the entire PV14 evangelistic series live on free-to-air television (for residents in Luganville, Lakatoro and Port Vila) and the nightly programs were also podcast and live-streamed on the web and radio. 

There were nine downlink sites across Vanuatu, allowing residents in more remote parts of the country to watch the meetings “live on the big screen”.

According to the Trans-Pacific Union Mission newsletter “this is the first time the Adventist Church has been able to provide such a complete coverage of public evangelistic meetings [in Vanuatu]”.

Vanuatu Mission reports that the Sabbath crowd was between 9000 and 12,000. “To realise that in the crowd were thousands of non-Adventists worshipping on Sabbath for the first time made the moment very special and meaningful,” reported Mission general secretary Simon Luke. 

Leading up to the series, more than 13,500 brochures were handed out in communities across Efate. Approximately 3500 brochures were also inserted in a weekend issue of the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Morning revival meetings were held for Adventist Church members at 5am every day at Epauto Adventist church. 

 “I believe this has been the secret of the success of this campaign,” Mr Luke said. “God brought in the people to be baptised and the healing to the Church because the Adventist members in Port Vila were willing to humble themselves, confess and repent of their sins and renounce sins.” He believes the Church came together in unity and this turnaround was a large part of the campaign’s eventual success. 

At one of the morning revival meetings, the Sorovango breakaway group, which had been disfellowshipped 16 years ago, rejoined the Adventist Church. Led by their pastor, Thompson and chief, Abel David, the group of about 17 stood and thanked Pastor Adeline and Dr Kuma for coming and asked to reunite at a special reconciliation ceremony. Mission president and PV14 chairman, Pastor Nos Terry, then apologised on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and welcomed the group in the presence of more than 500 church members. Members from Pango and Simbolo offshoot groups were also at the reconciliation. Sorovango church group is made up of people from Tongoa Island mainly and is one of several major independent groups in Vanuatu. 

However, the program was not without challenges as Pastor Adeline required a police escort due to threats against him, and other church members were also threatened. 

The challenge ahead is to nurture the new members. “But for now Port Vila has been warned, challenged, rocked and turned upside down,” Mr Luke said. “God’s people have been revived, reformed and united. We will leave the results to God.” – TPUM


* Record Staff