Where Do You Baptize When All You Have is an Irrigation Channel?

where to baptize

Where Do You Baptize When All You Have is an Irrigation Channel?

Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20 to go and make disciples of all nations. He then said to “baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, and teach them to obey His commands. As YWAM Frontier Missions staff enter new communities they face challenges. It just isn’t the same as in their home countries. Even finding an appropriate place to baptize a new believer can be difficult. This is especially true in Muslim countries where there is significant persecution.

One church planting team shared some humorous stories related to their struggle to find good places to baptize those coming to faith. Their creativity, boldness, and willingness to step “outside the box” is an inspiration.

We got our first male believer – ‘Ahmed.’ As outsiders we wanted to make sure that a local person would baptize him. A leader from another city came to help. The next question was where to do it.

After some discussion, the team decided to use an irrigation channel near Ahmed’s village. In February it’s cold. Not snow, but lots of mud and temperatures not much above freezing. My husband took our friend to Ahmed’s village.

They decided on a channel in an out of the way place and made sure that no-one was about. They stripped to their underwear, clambered down the bank of the channel and got into the water.

At that very moment, one villager appeared from nowhere! He looked down the bank and called out to Ahmed, “Is everything OK?” and went on his way. Imagine the situation – two men in the water in their underwear with a foreigner watching from above. The gossip would be sure to get around the village … and then what would happen to Ahmed?

What happened was nothing. Either the man decided that nothing unusual had happened, or God gave him amnesia. We don’t know, but either way, no one heard about it in the village. We feel somehow God protected Ahmed. Ahmed quickly became a very effective evangelist and church planter. He is one of the leaders of the house-church movement in his nation.”

God provided a place, a local believer and His protection on this team. Not long after, they again faced the baptism question.

“Where is the Soap?”

“Some ladies had given their lives to the Lord. We discipled them and taught them about baptism. Now they were ready. But where would we do it? An irrigation channel wouldn’t be appropriate for ladies. This was especially true for the elderly grandmother.

We decided it would happen in our bathroom instead. There was a grandma, her three daughters, and various grandchildren. They lived in a nearby village where the houses didn’t have bathrooms of their own; people went to the public baths.

My bathroom had a tub in it, so we heated the water and filled the bath. The grandma was the first to be baptized. We asked one of the other local believers to do this. After she was joyfully baptized we expected her to get out of the bath so that one of her daughters could follow.

But no … she sat down in the warm water, looked around and asked, “Where is the soap?” Getting a wash was a real luxury for these poor village ladies and she wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass. So after two of her daughters also were baptized (and had a good wash) we decided to change the water.

After a few more baptisms (and washes) there was no more hot water. The last grandchildren were baptized in the shower.

Were they confused about the difference between being spiritually clean and physically clean? Or were they just taking advantage of the chance for a hot bath? I’m not fully sure, but it certainly was a memorable occasion and I’m sure there were angels rejoicing in heaven.”

Life on the frontiers means we have to be willing to break out of our normal ways of working. We need to be willing to go the extra mile to help people obey the commands of Jesus- like His command to be baptized. Keeping things simple and flexible is key in releasing Disciple-Making Movements. Another characteristic of movements is that they are obedience-based. As soon as people hear what Jesus commanded, we encourage them to obey right away.

We have a tendency to make things so complicated! We think we need lots of equipment, big buildings with baptismal tanks, and fancy worship bands to see God’s Kingdom come to a region. Instead, what we really need is a high level of commitment to boldly obey Jesus and teach others to do as well. This led to a breakthrough for this team (in spite of the creative baptism locations.)

Find out more about simple disciple-making methods by attending an FM Training Seminar in your area. Write to us to find out where and when they are happening.

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