On a recent trip to India, I had the privilege to experience a picture of the Church when it is being a true community. It was near the end of a rather long journey, which took me to England, Scotland and India. It was a 20,500-mile trip that included visits to 11 different airports. On my last Sunday in India, I had the opportunity to preach at a church in which most of the congregation were Hindu converts. The service was held at 1:00pm on a warm day in a very small room. Needless to say it was extremely uncomfortable in the building. After the service the Pastor of the church asked if I would be willing to baptize a new believer in their Church. I agreed without much thought to what that actually meant. The thought of being involved in this young mans baptism was exciting until I realized that Hindu converts would only be baptized by full immersion. I have traveled enough in India to know that the rivers are not exactly the cleanest in the world. We agreed that we would meet the next afternoon, and find a river that be sufficient for this baptism.
That Monday I taught a pastor’s conference in which 415 pastors and leaders of various churches in the area attended. It was an exciting yet exhausting day. After the training, I met the young man and his pastor by the local river. The river was brown, smelly and fortunately way to shallow for a baptism. The pastor suggested we meet early the next morning, and travel up to the mountains where he knew of a stream that would be perfect for a baptism. So, the next morning we drove some 4-wheel drive vehicles up the mountain to search for the river. After getting stuck in the mud a few times, we finally started hiking up the mountain. It was at this time that I started feeling how much effort we were going through to baptize just one man. I was scheduled to leave in few hours and started feeling the pressure of time. I was also concerned that I may not have time to shower and change clothes before boarding a 20 plus hour flight back to the states. As all of these selfish thoughts came to me, I forgot what was really important. When we finally reached a section of the river that was deep enough for a baptism, I was exhausted from climbing the mountain.
The new believer was a young man from Nepal, he was engaged to be married in only a few days. When I asked him his testimony, he spoke very clearly about his faith in Christ. As I was bringing him up out of the river, I heard this loud alleluia coming from the banks of the river. I looked up to see about 25 people that had climbed that mountain to be a part of this young man’s baptism. All those people had been walking up this mountain with us, but I never noticed them. I was too consumed with my own discomfort to notice what God was doing that day. This was a picture of the Church being the Church. These 25 people spent a good part of their day hiking up this mountain to be there with their friend. But, even more important is the fact that they walked back down the mountain with this new believer. They walked back into his life to love and care for him and his new family. This was a great picture of the Church, and something that I needed to see that day.