Massive baptismal ceremony kicks off centennial celebrations across the region.
After two weeks of public evangelism under the theme “Almost Home,” more than 10,000 people were baptized on January 22 in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
The 650 sites produced unprecedented results in the history of the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference (ENUC), leaders said during the Pentecost 2023 Baptism Festival. The event kicked off the centennial celebrations of the Adventist message in the region.
In the past, a prayer conference typically drew around 20,000 people at the beginning of the year. But this time, it was different, ENUC president Bassey Udoh said. “We praise God for what He is doing. We have well over eighty thousand members gathered here. From what we see, we find it difficult to assess the number. It is impressive!” he said.
Pentecost 2023 organizer Azukoye Amadi said he was expecting about 1,500 to be baptized, though the church had planned for 2,000. “But now, two out of the 16 conferences have reached 3,520 [people ready for baptism],” Amadi said. “When we entrust a project to God, He really does wonders. This is the result of the prayer we are seeing today. We have rented 40,000 chairs, but today we are overwhelmed.”
West-Central Africa Division (WAD) president Robert Osei-Bonsu expressed his gratitude to God for the evangelistic results. “We thank God for this well-organized day of prayer and fasting, which culminated in a phenomenal mass baptism of more than 10,000 people. The attendance was overwhelming and beyond expectations,” he said.
Speaking to the nearly 80,000 people, Osei-Bonsu commended the local union conference workers for “their visionary and innovative leadership.” He added, “It is wonderful in our eyes, and we have every cause to thank God.” Pastors baptized in 34 mobile baptismal pools, and WAD department directors and Osei-Bonsu were among the speakers deployed across the 650 sites.
“I am happy with our baptism today. I discovered the truth about Jesus and the Sabbath. I feel good because my life has changed,” Ngozi, a middle-aged man from Mewi and one of the baptized, said.
A lady in her 40s, Chioma said, “I am very, very happy. My spirit is full of joy. I thank God for baptizing me today.” And a young girl named Grace couldn’t restrain her joy. “I feel happy because now I am a full member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I saw that there is truth in this church.”
The message was clear to the people of the area who were affected by the recent floods that left more than 25,000 Adventists without homes and possessions. Many unreached villages have opened their doors to the Adventist message, and members have planted several companies and churches.
“Every union region can organize a similar program once a year,” Osei-Bonsu said. “Evangelism will thrive across the region, and many souls will be won for the kingdom.”
Abia State executive governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu gave an official declaration. “I officially declare the centenary activities in this field open in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” A show of fireworks accompanied his formal declaration. And the mass choir, made up of more than 1,000 members, sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
“This mass baptism sent a strong signal to the members that every person should gain a soul by the end of the year,” Osei-Bonsu said. “The response from members is encouraging, and I believe the goal of 100,000 members by the end of the year is possible if we all work together.”
The climax of the year’s celebrations, which will include another mass baptism, will take place in November. General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson is expected to attend.
The original version of this story was posted by the West-Central Africa Division.