Seminarians help bring baptisms to Samoans in Melbourne
An evangelistic series presented in Melbourne by staff members and students from our seminary has helped 31 people demonstrate commitment to Jesus Christ through baptism.
The seminarians partnered with seven local Seventh-day Adventist churches to present ReThink Life this past month (June 16-24), reaching second- and third-generation Samoans in Australia and their friends.
Ministry Practicum directors Dr Erika Puni and Pr Neil Thompson each led a team of five students, one based in St Albans in the west and the other in Cambellfield in the north. The students, enrolled in a unit called Discipleship and Evangelism, presented half the meetings with Erika and Neil presenting the rest.
Lusi Sione spoke on the first Saturday of the series, using Daniel 2 as the basis of his presentation. Public evangelism still has its place, says the Bachelor of Ministry and Theology student, because it leads people to make a commitment. “If something I said encouraged a decision for baptism, I praise God, because it’s the moving of His Spirit that brings transformation.”
A banquet on the Thursday appealed, with 180 people attending to learn about relationship enrichment. Then both sites joined in a hired venue for the final meetings, a Sabbath celebration that included the baptism. Some of the 31 getting baptised were church-attending young adults; others had not attended since their youth. Some were of other faiths or of no faith. “All wanted to change the story of their lives and to walk with Jesus,” says Neil.
The president of the Adventist Church in Victoria, Pr Graeme Christian, attended the baptism and praised Avondale for supporting local church mission in his conference. Erika praised ministers Tauae Poasa and Apelu Tanuvasa who with their church members organised the series and led the pre-campaign work.
According to Neil, the series changed perceptions about public evangelism and about the ability of students to present it. “At the beginning of the year, the church members didn’t want to try public evangelism and didn’t want the students to speak. At the end of the series, they didn’t want the meetings to stop. They loved every student’s presentation.”
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