he Indigenous community of Palm Island, off the coast of Townsville (Qld), came alive in September when 54 Joy Prayer Warriors conducted the first multi-faceted evangelistic campaign of its kind to be implemented by Adventists.
The campaign included street evangelism, a vacation Bible school (VBS), community service, door knocking with literature, hamper deliveries and choir performances.
Outgoing Northern Australian Conference president Pastor Brett Townend said he was pleased to see the results of the program, especially as six people were baptised there last year. “I think it’s great for Palm Island to get that kind of ministry happening out there,” he said.
The Palm Island community has struggled with a range of serious social issues since its establishment in 1918 as a penal colony for Aboriginal “troublemakers”.
Throughout the week, approximately 70 children attended the VBS, which included action songs, Bible dramas and stories, Christian craft, face painting, sports and puppets. God’s Word was shared in songs at a funeral of a pastor and also at the rehabilitation centre, after which a staff member escorted a client to an evening meeting, gave prayer requests and invited male team members to visit a men’s group.
In the evenings, locals from the communities came together to listen to the open-air evangelism and some were in tears as they experienced God’s Word through songs, prayers, testimonies and skits. Each method used to share the gospel under God’s guidance was a means of inspiration in the people’s lives and helped to bridge the gap between the Joy Prayer Warriors (JPW) and the Palm Island residents.
Believing that “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” was paramount to success, the JPW Fijian and English groups connected via conference calls to worship and pray at 4am each day.
This was the first major evangelism project by the JPW group, which operates under the umbrella of the Mount Isa Adventist Church, where a number of Fijian families worship. Participants also came from other parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
According to JPW core member Liane Radrodro, the journey began when Christian leaders in Palm Island invited the group to visit. After prayer and a feeling of conviction that this was the right time to give expression to the gospel commission of Matthew 28, Mrs Radrodro and the JPW group told God they were ready to answer the call.
God was involved from the outset: as the team members scattered over Australia were fasting, praying and discussing their plans via phone and internet, unsolicited personal donations started pouring in prior to the scheduled departure to cover food, the printing of the JPW uniforms in Fiji and other expenses. Group members were amazed to witness how God opened doors to make the program a reality. The Northern Queensland Conference also assisted with STORMco shirts and funding for the VBS activity and community service work.
JPW members shared testimonies during the week; one member received a free flight after missing her scheduled flight. Others received favour with their employers following earnest prayer by being granted work leave to go on the trip and guaranteed work on return.
“Jesus is coming soon and God is counting on everyone to be involved in spreading the gospel through personal witnessing, small group evangelism or public evangelism in its various forms,” Mrs Radrodro said. “The Joy Prayer Warrior group members have pledged to take this calling from God personally and seriously, working closely with Church leaders and pastors to do something for Jesus and for others.”
The group has been invited back to Palm Island and is hoping to return before the end of the year.
For more information visit Joy Prayer Warriors on Facebook.
- Liane Radrodro and Kent Kingston