8th March 2021

My Bible readings at the moment are in Romans, introduced by Revd Dr Nigel Wright, of Spurgeons. He writes about baptism as one who, like me, has been ‘buried with Christ’ and raised to newness of life.

Baptisms in Congo take place in a small local river at festival time. The candidates line up on the riverbank in front of the whole congregation. They have been thoroughly instructed on the meaning of baptism and Christian life to follow, and rigorously questioned by senior deacons. Five deacons and pastors stand waist deep in the water, each taking a candidate, the senior pastor on the bank says ‘On your profession of faith… I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ and the deacons in the water plunge the candidates under. As each group of candidates climbs up the riverbank, everyone sings ‘Follow, follow, I would follow Jesus…’

So everyone gets to see their own baptism – burial and resurrection – re-enacted before their eyes – a powerful reminder of a commitment made and the way to be following. This is a joyful occasion for the whole district, 20 or 30 villages and a boarding school, so there might be forty or fifty candidates. It can take quite a while.

Perhaps it’s good for us to be reminded of our own baptism or commitment, especially if it’s a long time ago. My own was 75 years ago this month. Much has happened since then but it’s still a moment to thank God for.

Lesley Fuller