60 Years Ago - Papua

Tuesday 19 Jul

Celebrating the first baptisms in Maki, Papua.

Helen Bensley takes us back to those first baptisms, 60 years ago.

"Sunday 13th May 1962 in Magi dawned bright and clear, not even a mist rising from the river. This seemed like a miracle. For days it had rained steadily. The pool the men had created in the blocked off creek had flooded over and over. The sides had threatened to fall in more than once.

Thirty-nine men and women waited to be baptised in that pool at Kumanungume, while thousands of their friends, families - and enemies – watched in almost total silence. 

Yaganit, Gibi’s wife, took a deep breath. It was her turn now. Holding her string skirt down with one hand for modesty, she stepped into the pool. As the cold brown water reached her shoulders the new net bag on her head floated up and spread on the surface of the water, the red, yellow and white decorations glowing in the sun. Kereg held her other hand firmly to steady her on the slippery mud. Her heart was pounding as Kereg asked her a question.


“Yaganit, have you confessed your sins?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Will you follow Yesus all your days?”
I will," she whispered.

Then, his hand on her head, he pushed her under the water, saying, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
She resurfaced, wiping the water from her eyes. Her face was lit with a radiant smile as eager hands helped her from the pool and across to the drying shelter at the edge of the clearing.
This moment would stay with her for the whole of her long life, and fifty years later she could still describe that day.

For some of the onlookers it was an anticlimax. Nothing dramatic had happened after all. The women did not emerge young and beautiful, the pigs did not turn white.

But for Yaganit, it was the sign that the change that had come into her life was real and permanent." - Helen Bensley, former Intercultural Team Member in Papua

Give thanks for t
his milestone that was significant in the establishment of the Dani Baptist Churches in the North Baliem area. Praise God for His continued activity in this region and lift up for the church in Papua today.
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