Thursday, December 01, 2011

See, Here is Water

It can be difficult for those of us raised in an established church in the free world to imagine someone being baptized outside of a church building with no significant examination of faith beforehand.

In areas of severe persecution, some believers still have difficulty finding someone to baptize them. In Egypt and Malaysia, many mainstream church leaders are afraid to baptize a Muslim convert to Christ. They will only baptize those from a non-Muslim background. Likewise, in the four communist countries of Asia, more than 80 percent of baptisms are illegal because of government restrictions. Believers there have to function "outside the box:' so they are sometimes baptized in a barrel!

When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch on the side of the road (Acts 8), the Lord had already prepared the Ethiopian's heart by leading him to read the prophecies about Jesus. Perhaps the man felt the urgency to be baptized because he didn't know if he would ever meet another Christian who could baptize him. Consequently, he exclaimed to Philip, "See, here is water." They stopped the chariot and he was baptized on the spot. The man would soon be returning to Ethiopia, where the apostle Matthew, according to Church history, was later nailed to the ground and beheaded under orders from King Hytacus.

This kind of situation led two zealous Muslim converts recently to ride their small motorcycles to the ocean and baptize themselves. They believed they needed to go under water three times, so they got a lot of saltwater in their mouth. But they rejoiced as they sought to be obedient to Christ's commandments.

I recently witnessed the baptisms of 20 Muslim converts to Christ in a Muslim nation. They had sewn their own baptismal robes. Their exuberance, delight and overflowing joy washed over me like the water pouring off of them. In their country, there is no church building where they could be safely baptized.

Making use of the primitive means available is not about being different; it's about finding a way to obey God.

(excerpted from Tom White Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, November 2011)

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