This is a beautiful photo gallery of baptism around the world.
A number of years ago, a man named Philip had an encounter with an official from Africa. After Philip shared the gospel with him, the official believed and desired to be baptized. The two men came to the only body of water at their disposal—presumably a stream or pond—and the official was baptized in front of an audience of One.
In twenty-first-century America, baptisms often look quite different. Although the outward symbol of faith is the same, many of us are submerged in a baptistry situated at the front of our church, maybe even in heated water.
But in many places around the world, people are baptized under the same circumstances as the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8—in whatever water is available and in front of only a handful of people. Some do so in relative secrecy to avoid persecution by governments or their community.
Though our baptisms have great differences, the same God is glorified by the visible reminder that someone has gone from death to life and now lives in a restored relationship with him. Let’s take a look at baptisms around the world and praise God for what he has accomplished.
A church in a tiny fishing village in Mozambique was started in 2010 by Jeremiah Johnson, a short-term IMB missionary who died in a motorcycle accident on the field in April of that year. At the time of Johnson’s death, the church had only a few Christians. Nine years later, the church has grown tremendously and baptizes new believers off the shores of the village.
The Kirkwood Prison in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, doesn’t have a tank suitable for baptizing inmates who come to faith. That doesn’t stop IMB missionary Helmer Jenson and his South African national partner, who are involved in a prison ministry through a local church, from helping inmates follow Christ’s example of baptism. They bring a deflated pool to the prison a week prior and leave it with the prison chaplain. On the morning of the baptism, inmate leaders are given permission to inflate the pool and fill it with water in the prison yard. The yard is lined with cell windows, so the baptisms are a very public testimony of the man’s choice to follow Jesus.
On the outskirts of a seaport neighborhood in Quelimane, Mozambique, a church leader helps people gathered to be baptized make their way down the muddy shore to a local pastor and IMB missionary Matthew Stauffer in the water. The church has grown quickly in recent years and desires to see the entire neighborhood soon baptized in these waters.
When IMB missionaries Tim and Lee Shaw hosted volunteers from their home church in Georgia, they all decided to go to the village of Etsha in northern Botswana to evangelize among an unreached people. Three people came to faith and two were baptized. The only available body of water was swarming with crocodiles, so the Shaws had to come up with another plan. They found some cinderblocks and a tarp, built a makeshift tank, and baptized the two new Christians.
A local pastor and church elders in South Asia baptize new believers in a well outside a small rural church. New Christians in this country often ask to be baptized early in the morning and in less populated locations. Although it’s not illegal to be a Christian here, the country’s anti-conversion laws lead to intense scrutiny of existing Christians and new believers if a baptism has occurred.
An IMB team in Mozambique incorporates the installation of fresh-water wells in their church planting efforts. One day, when they were working to install a well, they shared the gospel with a man who came to observe them. The man believed, so they brought him to the static waters of a nearby pond where he was baptized by a Mozambican pastor.
In Germany, not every church has a baptistry, and some churches do not meet in traditional church buildings. Believers’ baptisms can take place in various locations—in the church, at a lake or at the ocean, in swimming pools and even in bathtubs. The baptism service is not simply an add-on event to the Sunday morning church service. The entire service revolves around the individual or individuals getting baptized.
After sharing his testimony of how he came to faith with this family and with the members of his house church, an older man on a hot summer’s day in Germany took a step of obedience by participating in baptism in a backyard pool. He had heard the gospel a number of times during weekly house church meetings before he finally put his trust in Jesus.