Baptism in Mountain Streams

Barnabas Baptizes Hundreds into the Kingdom – June, 2006

Where did the disciples of Jesus first baptize new believers? Mostly in rivers. The most important river mentioned in the bible is the Jordan, where many of the first believers were baptized. But others were baptized in lakes and seas.

Today, in modern churches we usually have a baptismal pool in the front of the chapel behind or next to the preacher’s pulpit. The pool uses tap water and is usually heated, generating a good sized expense for the average church!

In countries that persecute Christians, and where Christians need to be secretive about their conversion to Christ, they often go into the mountains to find a lake or a stream to be baptized. I’ve seen a well being used for baptism in a Middle Eastern country nicknamed Narnia. However the owner of the well was reported to the Narnian police and it was front page news. Baptisms in these restrictive countries often are held away from strangers, far away in a remote area, and often at night, to avoid arrests.

In Thailand, there is freedom of religion and the weather is good, so many believers love to be baptized in the open, in “natural” water, in streams in the middle of the forest, and in inland lakes. They usually attract onlookers to see what is going on, so it becomes an opportunity for public testimony. Like, “What are they doing?” – Which results in a good chance to share one’s faith. Especially since life is not that rushed, and people may not be that punctual, the whole process could take a while, and allow some good chats with non-believers!

And so Barnabas and his evangelists are usually very busy scouting out streams and lakes for baptismal sites. There are usually so many people who want to be baptized that they have to work hard to keep up with the baptisms! Sometimes 30 or 50 people can be baptized all at once, so Barnabas and his evangelists are exhausted at the end of the day. The Christians surround the new converts, and they sing “Happy Day” after each baptism.

Commonly the new believers and their supporters all come and go in trucks, so several trucks will arrive full of people who spill out for the ceremony, and pile back into the truck when it’s all over. This whole process sounds similar to what Jesus and his disciples did when they had to take care of the thousands of people coming to be baptized. It must have been quite a scene.