By Mark A. Finley
Longtime evangelist Mark A. Finley; General Conference (GC) Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department director Jonathan Kuntaraf; GC Health Ministries Department associate director Kathleen Kuntaraf, wife of Jonathan; vocalist Charles Haugabrooks; and other team members held a series of evangelistic meetings in Manado, Indonesia, August 31-September 7, 2012. This resulted in remarkable conversions, including that of a tribal chief from a remote Indonesian island. Hope Channel taped the nightly meetings and aired them throughout Indonesia on its newly established 24-hour network there. Here are three reports Finley wrote of the event while in Manado. The colloquial style of the reports has been retained. —Editors.
Report 1 September 2
COMMITTING TO JESUS: Mark Finley and Jonathan Kuntaraf baptize two of the many hundreds of people who accepted Jesus as their Savior in Manado.Warmest greetings from Manado, Indonesia! We began our evangelistic meetings with a packed audience of thousands in the Manado Convention Center. Manado is the capital of the province of North Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s hundreds of islands. More than 73,000 Seventh-day Adventists worship in some 450 churches in the province.
Adventism began here in 1921 when Samuel Rantung, who lived in this area, visited Jakarta. During his lengthy stay in Jakarta he came into contact with the Adventist message, received Bible studies, and was baptized into the Adventist Church. When he returned to his village community in North Sulawesi, the entire village wanted to know about the “iron beasts,” referring to the trains in Jakarta. There are no trains in this region of Indonesia, and the people here had never seen one before. So Rantung invited the townspeople to a special meeting to hear about his adventures, during which he told of another type of beast—the prophetic beasts of Daniel 7 and 8.
The villagers listened with great interest as they learned about the prophecies and the coming of Jesus. Rantung continued regular discussions with them about Bible prophecy, and by the end of the year 21 people had been baptized and the Adventist faith launched in the Manado area.
Our churches are now flourishing here, and the membership is growing. In Manado there is now an Adventist union office, a conference office, and a 90-bed Adventist medical center. There is also a thriving secular university. On Sabbath I preached at the university church to 4,000 students about the Christ who can meet each of our needs. Early that morning it was refreshing to see hundreds of students walking to Sabbath school carrying Bibles in their hands.
Before the series began, I conducted two days of training sessions for about 120 pastors. At the session I heard the story of the father of one of the pastors who more than 30 years ago met a tribal chief, who together with his people lives on the remote Indonesian island of Tanimbar. Although we have 230,000 Seventh-day Adventists in Indonesia, thousands of Indonesian islands have no Adventist presence at all; Tanimbar is one of them.
OVERFLOW CROWD: Some 15,000 people crammed into every available space and spilled outside the Manado Convention Center on Sabbath during the evangelistic series.The chief and the pastor’s father developed a friendship and studied the Bible together for several years. Although the chief came to believe the Adventist message, his leadership position hindered him from fully embracing it and being baptized. He was reluctant to interrupt the status quo of his tribe. His son, however, accepted the Adventist message in 1995, and is now a university professor in Manado.
The chief is now 77 years old and has been reengaged in Bible studies for the past four years with the son of the pastor who studied the Bible with him so many years ago. He and his family traveled for a week by boat to come to Manado to attend our evangelistic meetings, and they have requested baptism. Please pray for the chief, his family, and his people.
Jonathan and Kathleen Kuntaraf, Charles Haughabrooks, and I sense the power of God working in our meetings every night. Jonathan serves as translator; Charles is presenting the music; and Kathleen the health talks.
The Indonesian people treat us with amazing hospitality. The churches spend hours every day preparing our noon meal. What a joy to be part of the worldwide Adventist family!
Report 2 September 5
I have just returned from tonight’s meeting, and our audience may have been the largest yet. Thousands of people crammed into nearly every available space in the convention center and spilled over into the foyer and hallways. We have accommodated the large crowds by placing screens throughout the overflow areas. It’s exciting to see people so enthused about Jesus and this message that they are bringing their friends to the meetings. The East Indonesia Union Conference president, Noldy Sakul, sits in the front row of the meetings every night and reserves seats for his guests. The other night eight of the people he invited attended the meeting. Our members here are on fire for God.
SHARING THE MESSAGE: With the aid of his translator, Jonathan Kuntaraf (right), evangelist Mark Finley shares the gospel message in Manado, Indonesia.The highlight of our day was the baptism of the island chief. Throughout the meetings the chief’s faith has strengthened. He made his commitment to Jesus, and today he, his wife, two of his children, and two of his grandchildren were baptized. It was a glorious outdoor service. The chief sent a letter to his entire large village explaining that he is now a Seventh-day Adventist and inviting them to consider the truths he has accepted. While videotaping his baptism, the chief looked into the camera and committed himself to lead his people into an understanding of God’s message of truth for these last days, and is encouraging the Seventh-day Advent-ist Church to send missionaries to help him.
Many hundreds of people who have been attending the Manado meetings have made their decision to follow Jesus in baptism and become a part of His remnant church. They are preparing for baptism this Sabbath. During the prework leading up to this series, hundreds more also were baptized as the result of our small-group Bible study ministry.
The Holy Spirit is doing something special here in Manado, and it’s a joy to be part of it—but this is just a foretaste of what God longs to do, and will do, through His people just before He returns.
Report 3 September 8
This morning we said goodbye to Manado and left to begin our 48-hour journey home. Our evangelistic meetings in the Manado Convention Center ended yesterday. Fifteen thousand people crammed into every available space and spilled outside the building, where we had set up hundreds of additional chairs to accommodate the crowds. Cars were already beginning to pull into the convention center parking lot at 6:15 a.m. By 8:00 the auditorium was full. When the mayor of Manado arrived at 10:00, there was a major traffic jam. Thousands of people brought their lunch and stayed all day until we closed the session at 6:00 in the evening.
We transported the baptismal candidates in two trips on 15 buses to our baptismal site. We praise God for each person who has accepted Jesus as their Savior and been baptized!
A MOMENTOUS EVENT: Almost 2,000 people were baptized as a result of the evangelistic meetings in Manado.Following the baptismal service we returned to the convention center for an afternoon concert and my final sermon. More than 30 musical groups and about 1,000 people participated in the musical extravaganzas held each evening of the meetings.
In addition to our evening evangelistic meetings, our team has conducted an evangelistic/church growth workshop for pastors, participated in two church dedications, spoken to high school and university students, made numerous personal visits, and met with city government officials. The mayor of Manado is a friend to Adventists. He attended and spoke at both of our church dedications and for our closing Sabbath morning meeting, expressing his deep appreciation of Seventh-day Adventists.
It is my earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit will be poured out in all His fullness so the work of God on earth can soon be finished and Jesus can come. It is to this end that we continue to share His message of love and truth.
Mark A. Finley has been a pastor, administrator, and evangelist for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 40 years. He currently is an assistant to the General Conference president.