10.17.2010

Baptisms

This past Sabbath was a special Sabbath at Mundri; we had 8 baptisms!
Now I didn't understand exactly what this was going to entail, but I
definitely gained an education in the proper way to do a baptism in
South Sudan. After church, Pastor Nelson announced that we would be
going to the river for the baptisms. This made sense, as the church
has no baptistry. But as the congregation started to march through
town singing, I began to realize that this would be more than just a
simple trip to the river. We proceeded to parade through the entire
town, right up main street; the youth choir in front, then the
baptismal candidates in white robes, and then the rest of the
congregation following behind. We walked past the shops, past the
restaurants, past the traffic police, past a political rally, all the
way across the Mundri bridge, about two miles from the church.

By the time we arrived at the riverbank, we had gathered quite a lot
of spectators, and, not one to miss an opportunity to reach a crowd,
our friend Charles, a former Global Mission pioneer preached a rousing
sermon about Jesus' example of baptism by immersion. It was quite a
warm day, and by the time he was finished, I bet he could have
collected several more willing volunteers for an immersion!

Finally Pastor Nelson called each candidate out into the water and
baptized them, alternating between speaking in Arabic and English.
Everybody cheered and we all sang a few more songs. While all this
was going on, several Indonesians from the local UN camp drove across
the bridge to the other side of the river and commenced with their
weekly bath. I wonder what they thought of all the commotion across
the river :) Anyway, it was quite an experience; baptism is supposed
to be a public demonstration of a life-changing decision, and this was
definitely public!

Excelsior!

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