Baptism by Water Around the World

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all of your mission related questions and with me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. 

Ron- Good to be with you again, Joy!

Joy- Welcome back! So the question I have for you today is all about water baptisms. I know that they are happening around the world in these spiritual hotspots from the reports that we get back from our partners but what do they look like and are they different? Are there challenges surrounding them and depending on the country that they are happening in are there different circumstances surrounding it?

Ron- It’s pretty much the same as what we have here in the West, the only difference is that we’ve got clean little pools in churches usually, at the front that get used once every six months. Whereas over there, they’ve got a river, a pond, a ditch, something of that nature that they will use because they don’t really have the pristine situation that we do over here.

Joy- Especially if we are talking about tribes or smaller villages.

Ron- Exactly, now in the cities if they have a church building that is made of concrete and things like that, yeah, they would probably have a baptismal tank like we do. But over there, no, and remember that there’s not really a schedule as such in most places for doing baptisms. So we schedule a baptism coming up in a church you know, every three, four, five, six months and you’d have a group. They do it whenever they can depending on the circumstances. So that means they could have 30 people accepting the Lord and, therefore, they do one, tomorrow they have some more. They have 80 after a Mini Crusade in India and they’ll do 80 all of a sudden.

Joy- Just in one day!

Ron- In one day, at one time, and then, there were five people left out. Serbia one time, I remember they had a baptismal, and then so many people accepted the Lord at the baptismal that they had to schedule another one the next week to do that one. They did that in, what was it, Charis?

Charis- It’s a blow-up kid’s pool.

Joy- They baptized in a blow-up kids pool?

Ron-Yeah, and we’ve got pictures of that same group in Serbia that they went to this very, very poor house but the people wanted to be baptized so they took a cooking sheet!

Charis- it was small, I was amazed they could fit in it.

Ron- Okay, I’m going to give some dimensions here, probably about two and a half feet long by maybe two feet wide, it was metal, and the walls were maybe five inches high.

Joy- Wait, so really like a cooking sheet! 

Charis-It really was, yeah.

Joy- And they sat in it?

Charis- Yeah, they were all crunched up in a ball.

Joy- That’s amazing!

Ron- They crunched up and they I think sometimes laid the person back flat and then splashed water over them.

Charis- They make do!

Joy- That’s quite the picture!

<p>Group of young people ready to be baptised</p>
Serbia one time, I remember they had a baptismal, and then so many people accepted the Lord at the baptismal that they had to schedule another one the next week to do that one

Ron- Oh yeah, they make do. So we’ve got a variety of situations whereby they make do but also it’s not the form as much as the intent. When I say that somebody could criticize them and say they should be fully baptized or fully water dunked. In other words submerged, not a fingertip showing, right?

Joy-Held down.

Ron-For a good long time! Therefore they say, that’s the proper way. Well, in some situations you can’t. There is that one story we recorded, Joy, whereby they had a baptismal, they had to dodge the police and they went down a river, found a quiet area at night, and did it. I know of one, a pastor was telling me there was a waterfall in Vietnam and they couldn’t find a safer place to do it so they took the people and literally put them under the waterfall and baptized them that way. And so I’m trying to say that it all depends on the circumstances around but to them water baptism is very, very important if you go to some countries that there is stages of a person’s commitment to the Lord. For instance, let’s do India. So in India, you’ve got a billion gods in Hinduism. But say somebody in India from Hindu background accepts Jesus at a meeting and, therefore, they will, at the very beginning, put a picture of Jesus up on the wall with the other gods in their house. So I’ve walked into a house there and they’ve got probably 15 to 20 images of their gods and there is a picture of Jesus there, the traditional one, you know.

Joy- The long flowing hair?

Ron- Long flowing hair, blue eyes, stuff like that. So that was that. You go back later, and they’ve taken a further step, they’ve learned more, they realize there are no other gods, it’s just Jesus and, therefore, they have taken down all the other pictures except Jesus. This is good! And then you go a little bit further in their growth and they say now I want to be water baptized. Now to most people in these other religions, water baptism is the significant sign of conversion. So in Hinduism, they’ll let you worship Jesus as another god, that is not the issue. It’s when you take down these other gods and have Jesus as the only one and then you have a public spectacle of dedicating yourself to this god in a ceremony of water baptism. That is the point of no return shall we say, in their view. I remember one country, Ethiopia actually, and they had a bathtub, and they were baptizing people in a bathtub and it was really something because they would bring the people in and many of these people used to worship demons and, therefore, they were possessed, literally, and they would have demonic manifestations up until the point when they were water baptized. And I heard this, this story I don’t tell all that much but I may as well today because I’m into it now anyways, but I’m sitting there asking the leaders and some of the fellas who were involved with this, I said, Why is this so significant that you do this in this way, at such a time?” He said, Because, it appears, there is nothing in Scripture on this,” so this is an appearance thing, it appears that in hell, water baptism is so significant an action that they realize this is their last stand and this is the public commitment. And so they have manifestations up until, but he said, now I’m just telling you what he said, We’ve never had a manifestation after the person is water baptized.” Now some people can argue with me on this, I’m just reporting what it is because I’m trying to get across this point; it is very significant in the lives of believers, it appears to be very significant from a satanic point of view as far as ownership is concerned. I know the Bible talks about, Matthew 28, go into all the world and baptize, that is a major thing, and, Jesus was baptized in water in the John the Baptist situation, and you can see that this was really, really big! That has transferred itself to the national churches around the world where to them, this is the sign and, therefore, they find every opportunity to do it. A funny one, sort of, in China, in the prisons of China. I remember this one so well. I’m sitting with this guy who just got out of prison, he’d started a church in prison and I said, So, how many churches have you started?” And he says, In prison?” And I said, No, how many churches have you started in total.” And so he says, Well, outside, I don’t know 30, 40, 50, I forget the number right now, I’d have to look it up,” but he said something like, I’ve started about four churches or five churches in prison.” And I said, Four or five?” He says, Yeah, every time I go to prison I start a church, and I think I would consider the last time I was in prison and I did start a church but I got released quickly before I could get a strongly established church.”

I’ve started about four churches or five churches in prison.”

Joy- So he’s not sure.

Ron- So he’s not really sure if that one stuck. But here he is and so I said, What does it look like in prison for a church?” Well, we snuck in a Bible, we hid it, we passed it around, we chopped it up basically, taking books out so that everybody got one part of it if they didn’t get the other.” They would have a Bible school he said, in one prison church, he said, We started a Bible school there to train the pastors.” They had nothing else to do after they got off work so they made it into a Bible school seminary. So okay, I said, This is all good, did you do water baptisms?” He said, Oh yeah.” I said, How?” In the showers,” he said, we’d go into the showers and we made sure the guards weren’t around, all the prisoners would get around, the guys would be fully clothed standing there and they would pull, you know, the chain? Sort of like when you pull a chain down the water comes down?” He says, We’d pull the chain down and I’d baptize them in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and there they go.” And they would just be covered because they didn’t have a tub or anything else. So, this is how in the world, the national church, baptism is very, very significant. I know it’s significant in the spiritual realm and let me put it to you this way, I think over here in the West, we are losing the significance of water baptism.

Joy- I was going to ask you that, like it seems kind of, not to use a pun but, a bit watered down.

Ron- We are looking at more, like not as vital but I’m international enough that I see the benefit of it overseas, that public confession. If you believe in your heart, confess with your mouth and part of that confessing is being proud to carry the name of Jesus. It’s the allegiance, I give my allegiance to Jesus. It should be done publicly. No better time to do it than that. I still remember, and Charis, do you remember back in the old days when we were in Sarnia, Ontario and we were doing the church there? We didn’t have a lot of money in the church and all we had money for was a horse trough. We put it in the kitchen, rolled up, and everybody turned around their chairs in the church and faced the back because the kitchen was attached to the sanctuary sort of thing. And they rolled up this metal fire window that separated the thing and it was a perfect little stage there and we would do 8 to 12 to 15 per month.

Joy-Water baptisms in a horse trough?

Ron- In a horse trough. Yeah, we heated the water, took the hose right out of the hot water heater. We just did that, so it was good. We did a lot of people that way. So here they are being baptized, at every baptismal service, everyone, we had somebody in the audience, friends, family, visitors, whoever it was, that weren’t Christians, at every one of those we had a person accept Christ. I think that drove home to me the idea that the best witnessing that you can do, the best example, is when a person gives their testimony and they want to make it public because they are proud of carrying the name of Christ. There is something about when an unbeliever hears this, the testimony, sees the action, is sort of encompassed by this that all of a sudden they really start to listen with their ears and they do make a commitment. So we would have more people accept the Lord then we move on to the next baptism, and the next one, and the next one. So once you get the ball rolling it really grows nice. But it’s all upon the idea that I’m proud of Jesus.

Joy- Well, and I never really, I feel like I should have thought of this but, when you mentioned how it’s really about the spiritual realm and the last stand against the enemy and taking that stand and it’s a spiritual battle. That’s a powerful image and that would certainly strengthen the idea of why water baptism is so important and such a message to unbelievers.

Ron- Exactly, but the problem over here now is we want to make it easier for a person who is an unbeliever to come in and follow Jesus. So therefore, there is a movement out there within evangelical Christianity to take off the edges and make it a more soft and fuzzy relationship. Sometimes you can’t do that. It’s got to be in your face and I think that is one of the biggest things right now that we need to stress and the fact that the Bible is the Word of God, this is the authoritative, there’s no question about that. Second of all, you’ve got to be public about this. You can’t hide it in your heart and just hide the fact that you’re a Christian. You’ve got to come out! Water baptism, that is what it’s all about. And I can go on to say communion is really important, to remember. And all these things really are anchors within our faith and you can’t get rid of them because you want to make it easier for people in society to follow Jesus. No, there is a line you cross and you pay a price. Jesus said there is a cost, are you willing to pay the cost?

Charis- I was just going to say about the cost, you tell a story about a lady in India who was crying before she was baptized and after because she knew she was going home and going to get beaten by her husband but she still wanted to get baptized. There was a cost to it.

<p>Indian woman standing with her back to the camera</p>
You tell a story about a lady in India who was crying before she was baptized and after because she knew she was going home and going to get beaten by her husband but she still wanted to get baptized.

Ron- Did I tell that story?

Joy- I think we have it somewhere.

Ron- For those of you listening right now, let me tell that story because that is a perfect one. I forgot about that. I was in India, very, very poor area. It was a church that was filled and they were having a water baptism afterwards so we walked across the road into a field to an area where I think they would do some irrigation. But it was a concrete sort of cistern that was about five feet by five feet and in depth I’m going to say that the water that day was up to my chest. So I climbed in this thing, and oh, by the way…

Joy- Is this the one with snakes in it?

Ron- Yeah, that’s what I’m getting to! So this was basically the home of the King Cobra, and I got changed to do the water baptism, I never do this.

Joy- Because you don’t normally baptize overseas.

Ron- Never. I don’t want it to be like the Western celebrity coming in. They forced me, literally, to do this. So I got changed and I still remember the snakes in the wall and I’m getting changed and I can see snakes in this house in the wall and the biggest rat under the bed that you’ve ever seen in your life!

Joy- They just wanted to eat the rat.

Ron- I guess so but I wasn’t going to stick around and see who won!

Joy- Wait, but when you say the snake was in the wall..?

Ron- It was tangling in the wall.

Joy- That sounds terrifying!

Ron- So I got changed really fast, got out of there and went and did the water baptism but here I am in the tank and I’m waiting for about 10 people, 12 people, and all of a sudden I’m standing there and it’s mud at the bottom. I thought, oh no! I didn’t have any shoes on and here I am in this mud and something slithered between my toes and I’m thinking Jesus, please save me! This was really scary for me!

Joy- You are very dedicated. I would have been out of the tank immediately!

Charis- I think it was a fast baptism {laughter}.

Joy- He didn’t linger on the words! 

Ron- Honestly, I was afraid to move because I thought if I move it might bite so I’m just going to stand here. So we went up, and Charis, this is what you were talking about, all these people were coming in. The ladies all had their saris on etcetera like that, fully clothed and I mean there were three layers of clothes there, so they are in there and I am being careful. I think their way was that you don’t go backwards, these were people that you put your hand on their head and push them under and they pop back up again, like a cork. So I think that is the way we did it that day. Well, this one lady comes in and her husband was the head of the anti-Christian movement that was meeting, I could see it from the tank, that was meeting a quarter mile down the road and they were so pro-Hindu and so nationalistic that they were vicious towards Christians. This lady comes in, she gets in the tank, and she is sobbing and I leaned over to the leader and said, Is this okay? Should I do this?” I don’t understand. And he says Yeah, go ahead, go ahead.” And so I did and she’s sobbing the whole time. She gave her testimony, I don’t know what it was because it was in Hindi and I didn’t understand. I baptized her and everybody got out. The ladies took the woman when she got out and they had blanket, towel sort of things, they wrapped her in it and they walked her away, about three or four of the ladies. I got out etcetera and we were walking back, I didn’t get bit by the way, and we are walking back in the field and this parade of these guys all dressed in uniforms were coming down the road toward the church and the brother said to me, I think it’s about time you left.” So we rushed over, got in the car. On the way, sort of fast walking to slow running, I asked him about the lady and he said that lady is the wife of the leader of the group that is coming at you right now and he said that lady tonight will be taking the beating of her life for being water baptized but she was willing to pay the price and the cost because she is a firm believer in Jesus. And I got in the car and thought, oh my goodness that is as real as it gets. That is water baptism, that is the significance of it!

I asked him about the lady and he said that lady is the wife of the leader of the group that is coming at you right now and he said that lady tonight will be taking the beating of her life for being water baptized but she was willing to pay the price and the cost because she is a firm believer in Jesus.

Joy- My final question to go along with this is I assume in various different countries say in communism or in Hindu, so say in India, I imagine it is dangerous sometimes to do the baptisms.

Ron- That is a religious issue, yes. In fact in many states, if not all now, it’s against the law.

Joy- Okay, against the law. Where in Serbia there is no danger necessarily.

Ron- No, no.

Joy- China?

Ron- China you would probably get beaten. I don’t know whether there is a law against water baptism, it’s just that they are trying to crush the preaching of the Gospel and the gathering of believers together.

Joy- And in Vietnam, how is it there?

Ron- Vietnam it depends on the cities and the regions and who the police chief is in a certain area. Some areas it’s fine, some areas it’s not.

Joy- And finally, I remember you had shared a story about a pastor in Vietnam who gained permission to go into the prisons and this goes along with the unique ways that they baptize and the prisoners accepted Christ and wanted to be baptized and the only way they could do it was with a hose so they sprayed them down with a hose!

Ron- You know, there are various forms over here of baptism. You get some people that don’t believe in baptism at all in their church doctrine etcetera, then you’ve got the sprinklers, then you’ve got the pourers, they pour water all over you, then you’ve got the dunkers where it is complete immersion etcetera. So there is all sorts of different forms. I asked them about this overseas, about the different forms and they said, Oh, we just use water. Our form is water. It just depends upon the situation and the time we’ve got and everything like that.” So he says, We don’t really even think of that.” And that is most of the churches around the world.

Joy- Okay, well this was great! I honestly feel like we could talk about this a lot longer and maybe we will revisit it in the future. Thanks a lot, guys.

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