So different from meaningless rituals

Missionary Julie Martin shares the story of the first Akolet baptisms.

History was being made before our eyes. While the tropical sun blazed overhead, there was not even a hint of a breeze to offer relief to those of us baking.

But no one noticed, so intent were we on the scene before our eyes.

A little stir went through the crowd when my husband, Adam Martin, and Gili baptized Gili's wife Waklo, because the top of her hair (which was worked into its full potential height for the occasion) didn't quite make it all under and there was much whispering and even a few giggles about this.

It was the first ever Akolet believers’ baptism!

I liken the baptisms as being similar to enjoying a really great dessert after lots and lots of vegetables. While exciting things have been happening and we're loving teaching through Romans and translating it, and while the believers are eating up the truths in Romans very eagerly, we have felt very exhausted trying to keep up. (Vegetables are great for us and even enjoyable when done right, but let's face it: having only vegetables gets a little old!)

So the weeks leading up to baptism, as you may guess, were lots of work. The last day before baptism, we had no fewer than three last minute "sign-ups." So chaotic, but that last-minute business is the Akolet way, and of course we were very glad about each of the three teenaged guys who came.

But then Sunday morning, it was finally “dessert” time! And the whole thing was just absolutely brilliant—praise God!

Gili waded out into the water while Adam still had "Who would like to go fir...." forming on his lips.

"Me first!" responded Gili. This was so perfect, as he was the first believer. That was two years ago to the month.

Now, if a guy and his wife or kids were getting baptized, Adam and Ryan Warner, our co-worker, would baptize the guy first, then the guy would help Adam with his wife and/or kids.

Adam spoke to believers who were waiting to be baptized. They were standing separated from the rest of us.

Adam said, "God has graced you, Jesus has rescued you, and the Holy Spirit is inside of you. So you are joined to God. Because of this, we will dunk you into the water."

Then each person waded out.

Adam said to each person, "When Jesus died, you died too. When Jesus was raised, you were raised too."

Everyone was all abuzz and excited, whether they were baptized themselves or not. All in all, 22 people chose baptism, which was pretty cool we thought!

Afterward, everyone hung out and we sang songs and laughed and drank coffee together.

The believers who had been baptized kept saying how happy and light-hearted they all felt - extremely different from any of the meaningless rituals or religious exercises they had practiced in the past with the somber, heavy, fearful atmosphere. Praise God.

So that was the first Akolet baptism! Praise God!

Please pray for these precious believers as they have already faced ridicule and discrimination based on their bold stance to be baptized.