Flowing river baptisms provide firm foundation for faith

Posted on August 21, 2012 by VMMissions Staff

In June, the Eastern Mennonite High School Touring Choir traveled to Eastern Europe for a three-week tour of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Italy. Galen and I accompanied this group of lively, talented young people and listened to them singing in both big and small worship spaces.

On June 17, we were privileged to attend the worship service of the Lezhe, Albania church that we’ve heard about for years. The building is quite small, but adequate for the group that gathers there on Sunday mornings. This morning, the group of 30 including children waited for a bus to take them to the place where they held the worship service and four people would be baptized.

A half-hour bus ride took us to a rural area with mountains on all sides of the flowing river. Imagine our surprise to see a flock of sheep and several cows getting water from a pool of still water! The shepherdesses herded the animals away. We were reminded of Psalm 23: beside still water.

Rafael Tartari opened the service. Norma Teles led worship songs. Rafael gave a brief message, emphasizing that these four people were being baptized because they believe in Jesus. We should not be ashamed to be followers of Jesus, he said, because Jesus was not afraid to die on the cross. Rafael has a young son, and he knows the love of a father and understands that he would give his life for his son. God gave His Son for us.

Each person to be baptized stated their heart’s desire. Allen Umble and Rafael walked into the river with the baptismal candidates, one by one, and then lowered them gently under the water. After each had been baptized, Norma gathered them in a circle and prayed.

A wonderful time of fellowship followed with grilled sausages, friendly conversation, games, swimming— a great time together for this congregation!

The firm foundation of belief in Jesus was girded by baptism on a hot day in June in rural Albania. To God be the glory!

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Photo: Rafael Tartari and Allen Umble bless the baptism candidates: Katrina, Eviana, Flora and Anton, just before going into the flowing river for baptism. Photo by Galen Lehman

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