Yesterday, lining the banks of a shallow muddy pond in the blistering equatorial sun, 71 people waited patiently as the pastors and saints surrounding them sang and prayed. Then, 3 by 3 they waded out, mud squishing between their toes, to the three pastors standing almost knee deep to baptize them.
Seventy-one women, men, children and teens were baptized in Jesus name in the village of Nyakiswa, Tanzania. They are all new converts, mostly from the Sukuma tribe who have moved to the area as rice farmers. They were won to the Lord by house to house evangelism and home Bible studies. Many had already received the Holy Ghost prior to baptism.
Even though they have been attending church and have received teaching, they were lined up on the muddy banks of a shallow pond and given a 15 minute sermon on baptism and then led in a time of repentance, again. Three pastors waded out into the dark brown water searching out the deepest spots among the islands of grass growing in the muck on the bottom of the pond. Since the water was not quite knee deep on the pastors, the people had to sit down in the mud and were then tipped back for baptism. Pastors on the banks called out to them with instructions to “close your eyes” and “sit down, don’t kneel down”.
The lines on the bank dwindled as first the young girls then the women followed by the boys and men waded out to the three pastors in a constant stream. The pastors would ask their names, pray over them, baptize them and then lay hands on them again. As the folks came out of the water dripping and mud caked, two pastors with kangas (large cloths) would roughly wipe the water out of their face and send them up the hill to change out of their wet clothes in the bushes. It was a glorious, spiritual assembly line!