In late July the team we took to India was focusing on reaching out into villages to share the Gospel of Christ. Many people had never heard of Jesus and were excited to hear of a God who came down to earth to save them. In one Muslim village a team member told the true story of Christ to a small crowd and while no one publically responded, in the crowd was a young man that felt God touch his heart. We’ll call him “David”.
Several months earlier another man in that same village had accepted Christ and had not hidden it from the villagers. “Jake” was a restaurant owner in the village and persecution had already begun through people no longer visiting his business. He remained strong in the faith as the only village believer. Knowing “Jake” was a believer; “David” visited him to seek counsel on how to respond to the Good News he had heard. They prayed together and decided to find the local pastor and North American team the next day.
After an exciting morning out in the villages we gathered as a team for lunch. Upon arriving I was informed that two men had walked five miles to find us and the pastor was speaking with them. After being brought up to speed I spent the next hour talking, discipling and praying with the men. What a special time as we discussed God’s faithfulness, our security in Christ and that He’d always be with us. As we concluded the time the pastor said he would follow-up with them in a couple days and they’d discuss baptism. Curious to know more, “David” asked how that works. After hearing he said, “I have made up my mind, I want to follow Jesus. I’d like to be baptized today!” Wow! How exciting….and actually a little bittersweet. In America when someone wants to be baptized to show obedience to Christ, it is an exciting time. Family and friends gather to celebrate the event. In persecuted countries like India, it is a celebration but at the same time it makes a HUGE statement. Once you are baptized that is the point of no return. Family will disown you, friends may beat you, neighbors will run you out of your home, jobs are lost, all they know can change. For what? For obedience to their Savior.
Now we Americans don’t really know how to process that, we are free to make choices and have rights and we’ve put those rights into our American Christianity so we can feel safe and comfortable. But the Bible never promised those things. This type of persecution is no surprise to Jesus. The Bible tells us that we will be persecuted, families will be divided, and we will be hated for His namesake. Are we willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? “David” knew all this and was ready to follow Christ no matter the cost.
We hopped in the vehicles and went to a local school where there was a concrete cistern. We used buckets from the local well to fill up the make-shift baptismal one gallon at a time. We climbed in as excitement built and after a few words I baptized my brother “David”. What a privilege to share the celebration and symbolism of new birth and then to challenge the local pastor and his friend “Jake” to help “David” become a disciple of Jesus, teaching him to obey the commands of Christ.
Throughout the rest of the week I was able to see and pray with these men several more times. As you can imagine their determined faces are etched in my mind and I continue to pray for them regularly. As I was leaving I told them that the Bible tells us we are a part of a family, the family of God. And if in God’s will we never see each other again on earth, we will rejoice the day we meet again in Heaven. What a cool day that will be.
Got a note from the local pastor just yesterday saying “Jake” now hosts a prayer and worship time in his small hut. “David” and “Jake’s” daughter also attend. Please pray for this small church that it would develop deep roots and change the entire village for Christ.
For more on our work check out www.jessenfamily.info.