On the 11th of this month, the church in Las Moras met down by the creek to worship. The morning had dawned with a beautiful sunrise, and what is often the season of wet, damp mornings was warm, bright, and clear.
We were gathered outside because many of the new believers had decided they wanted to be baptized. Their first exposure to the idea had been a far cry from interest in signing up for the experience.
When we first studied about the actions of the early believers in Acts, the Las Moras believers thought we should do as they had done…for the most part. “Do you think it is a good thing for us to spend time together, and eat together, and help each other, and share our things?” asked my coworker after the lesson. “Yes. Those are good things,” they agreed. “Do you think it is a good thing for us to sing, and pray, and say pretty things to God?” he continued. “Yes. We should also be doing those things.” “Do you think it would be good if those who are believing were dunked as a symbol of what they believe?” he followed up. At that, everybody laughed. Then one lady got serious and said, “I think he really is asking us.” Cue awkward silence.
As time went on, passages naturally came up for study in which new believers in the text got baptized. We never once told the church that they should do the same. That is not really how we see our job. But over the months, questions began to emerge and eventually the believers in Las Moras decided that they, too, should be dunked.
Since the creeks in our village are dry for most of the year, the people decided to wait for rainy season. Fast forward to this month, when there was water, willingness, and a desire for obedience.
That was how we came to be gathered on some rocks under the warm sun at the side of a muddy creek two weeks ago. We talked together about what this symbol meant, how it has no power in and of itself, but is a sign of what God’s power has already done. In a culture that relies on forms, we wanted this to be clear to the friends and family members who were watching who had little exposure to the Word.
Then, after a little time of organizing themselves into an order with family groups together, twelve individuals were dunked as a symbol of their belief in God. One of the ladies, when asked if she believed that Jesus’ death was a payment for her sins, replied, “I believe in Jesus only. No other saint, no other idol can save. Jesus alone.”
After the service, we dried ourselves and gathered together for a party. Food here (like everywhere in the world, it seems) is used to mark special occasions, and this was no different. We feasted on goat stew, fresh corn tortillas, and washed it down with the juice from the hibiscus flower. The kids played in the grass and the adults sat around, visiting. The words of the song we had sung by the creek kept going through my thoughts:
Now I have chosen the path of Christ
When would I ever turn back…
That is my prayer for these brave few who have make a public declaration of their faith. To chose daily to follow, to obey, and to reject completely the thought of turning away. They will have difficult days and difficult choices ahead; they already do. But we are not promised a smooth way devoid of trials. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We are promised, however, a Faithful Guide, a Loving Father, and a eternal home at the end of the road.