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Baptized in Muddy Water


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Immediately after Moses’ baptism, I jotted        

the outline of this story in Journal #73

This week, I’m Camp Missionary at Pineywoods Baptist Camp in Texas. The following is a story I related to the boys at camp. I hope you enjoy it as they did.

 

BAPTIZED IN MUDDY WATER

His name was Moses.

 

And I witnessed his baptism. It wasn’t in the River Nile.

But a muddy hole in Uganda’s Oya River. It’s not big enough to be a river where I come from.

CHAPTERBaptism PM

It was a rural baptism.

In a real stream.

How rural was it? I drove in and out to the site in four-wheel drive with the hubs locked.

Moses’ Ugandan baptism was similar to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan:

Outdoors.

In running water.

With a crowd of curious onlookers.

Even though the Holy Spirit didn’t come down in the visible form of a dove, God’s presence was very real.

A knot of folks gathered at water’s edge for Moses’ baptism. Eleven fellow refugees who’d crowded into our Land Cruiser. All part of a preaching point at Lokujo Camp.

A preaching point that is growing into a fledgling church.

 

The refugees were joined at the Oya River by dozens of local villagers. Curious children.

A few gawking adults.

 

This is the heart of Muslim country.

 

I’d like to know what these followers of Islam thought of the first baptism they’d seen. I told DeDe the onlookers wouldn’t have been more surprised if a UFO landed and green men came down the steps.

 

Our church leaders explained, in Kakwa and English, what baptism is about.

 

They explained that baptism does not bring salvation.

 

It is a step (and a big one) on the road of obedience to follow Jesus.

 

It’s symbolic—not salvation imparting—of the born-again process. The old man goes down into the water.

He’s buried under the water.

 

I guess you could infer that it pictures the drowning of the old man. A new man arises out of the water.

A new person in Christ.

 

On the riverbank, the women sing. Several scream the indescribable “African war whoop.”

 

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 Another muddy water baptism: Bundick

         Creek Louisiana May 1922

 

Back home we would’ve sang “Shall We Gather at the River.”

Today’s singing was, as it should be, all-African.

 

Dozens of local children are crowded at the water’s edge as Pastor Mark shares about the born-again experience.

Moses, a young man about age thirty, is nervous but determined. Ironically, he’s about the same age as Jesus was at his baptism.

 

My heart hears the faint words of a favorite song,

 

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

No turning back.

 

I glance at Mercy, a young nurse who is also a new believer.

 

She has turned away from her family’s Islam to follow Isa, whom she and I

 

believe to be the Son of God.

 

No turning back. I’ll follow Him.

 

The baptism ends. Moses and Pastor Mark change clothes.

 

We all crowd into the truck and head back to Lokujo Church for the Lord’s Supper.

 

It’ll be the first communion for this baby church.

 

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Plain, simple, and worshipful: Lokujo Preaching Point

 

Moses’ first time to contemplate the bread and wine that symbolically represent the sacrifice of Jesus.

 

Blood and Body.

Juice and Bread.

Once again, a symbolism that means so much to the Believer. A strong symbolism that always humbles and touches my soul. This do in remembrance of me.

We roll the windows down. The AC is on the blink again.

A light rain falls as we slip and slide along the red dirt road.

I crank up the stereo. Casting Crowns with “My Life Song Sings to You.”

The refugees, with their keen African ears, pick up the tune and hum or sing.

Next up, I play “Come Thou Fount” by Chris Rice. The wipers swing to the song’s rhythm.

 

My passengers know the tune and sing in Kakwa. I struggle along in English.

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God,

He to rescue me from danger Interposed his precious blood.

I glance in the rear view mirror.

At Moses. And Mercy. And Pastor Mark. James, my son in the Lord, who is the Timothy for this refugee camp.

They ask me to play “Come Thou Fount” again.

“Play it again, Sam.” I happily oblige.

No one speaks as we manoeuver along the narrow path. It’s a holy moment.

The smells and sights of Africa catch in the breeze:

Wet Grass. Plowed Soil. Splashing mud. Sweaty bodies.

African laughter. Waving children. Scurrying goats. A cow, chewing its cud, refusing to give right of way.

I wonder if I’ll ever get today’s events out of my heart.

I sure hope not.

 

Notes from Pastor Mark's sermon
Notes from Pastor Mark’s sermon

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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