Bounmee was invited to baptize ten new believers in a small Khmu village. One of his co-workers had planted a church in the village and these ten people were ready to publically declare their commitment to Jesus. So, on a Saturday morning, Bounmee, his wife and their two children piled into their pickup truck and drove out into the countryside.
However, when they arrived in the village, they could see that something was wrong. There were police everywhere and people were gathering on the streets. As they drove up to the crowd, Bounmee rolled down his window.
“Who are you?” the police officer asked.
“My name is Bounmee,” he replied.
“You are the man we are looking for!” the policeman shouted. “Park your truck and come inside. The mayor and the chief of the village are waiting to talk to you.” Immediately, Bounmee turned to his wife and said, “Pray.” As he was escorted inside, he thought about the pastors in the region who had recently been arrested and interrogated.
Once inside, Bounmee stood before a gathering of local authorities who questioned him about the Christian ceremony that was to take place in the village that day. Surprised that the word had spread about the baptism, Bounmee began to defend himself. He was very familiar with the laws of religious freedom in the land. In fact, he always carried a copy of the government’s regulations with him, so that he could effectively engage opposition and explain that it wasn’t against the law to be a Christian or to gather for worship.
They argued back and forth for a few minutes, and then suddenly the chief of police slammed his fist on the table and said, “Listen! This has gone on long enough. We want you to tell us everything you know about Jesus right now, and don’t leave anything out.”
Bounmee could hardly believe what he was hearing. Recognizing the opportunity, he proceeded to share the Gospel in detail with the crowd of eager listeners.
After Bounmee had spoken at length, one of the officials turned to his colleague and said, “This doesn’t sound like something we should be opposing. It actually sounds really good!”
Sensing a spirit of openness in the room, Bounmee spoke again, “Listen. We’re going down to the river to perform a simple ceremony for people who have decided to follow Jesus. Why don’t you join us? Come and see for yourselves that we aren’t stirring up any kind of rebellion against the government.”
“Fine,” they replied. “We will.”
So Bounmee walked outside and everyone in the room followed closely behind him. By that time, the entire village had gathered and they joined the procession down the dirt road to the river.
At the very front of the crowd, Bounmee felt strangely like a celebrity. People were spontaneously cheering for him and congratulating him. Others who joined asked, “Who is this man?”
As they approached the river, the ten people from the village who had requested baptism were lined up at the water’s edge. After Bounmee took his place waist deep in the river, he addressed the crowd and took the time to explain the symbolic nature of baptism and what the ceremony meant for these new followers of Jesus.
One by one, he baptized the ten. But once he was finished, there were more who had joined the line along the riverbank, more people who were ready to declare their allegiance to Christ before the watching crowd.
All in all, Bounmee baptized fifty-eight people that day.
It was a great celebration. He knew that many of those who were baptized had been believers for some time, but they had been afraid of the opposition from police and government officials. But since the local authorities were all present in the crowd that day and not hostile toward them, the believers had the courage to take the public step of faith.
God is at work in Southeast Asia. Please pray for all fifty-eight people who were recently baptized in this village. Ask God to give them courage as they live out their faith in Jesus within their community.