It was a wonderful day at Pradumri UMC, this last Sunday (May 26, 2008). Mike preached in the morning and Sherri served communion using the new Thai language liturgy she developed based on the liturgy in the UMC hymnal. Sherri used Thai language during the whole communion service.
After service we had the afternoon meal and a teaching session with 17 new Christians who would be baptized that afternoon. Nung, a Thai man who speaks fluent English, was our translator for the teaching session. He and his wife were baptismal candidates, and we rejoiced having them there because we have seen their lives change and they have grown strong in Christ. Nung was saved about a year ago and his wife gave her life to Christ at the Christmas program last year.
We went to the Krua Talay restaurant which is by the ocean. The leaders at Pradumri made arrangements to do the baptisms there and had surveyed the place a few weeks ago. It was high tide when they went there to survey. However, when we showed up, it was low tide. The sea is so shallow there that we had to walk about 300 meters to get to the edge of the water. And then we walked about 200 meters into the water and was only ankle deep. Pradumri UMC usually baptizes using the immersion method, so the usual method was not possible because the water was too shallow. So we had a chance to teach the congregation about the three methods of baptism and give a brief biblical-historical lesson on baptism. So Mike found a seashell and told the congregation that the seashell was the ancient symbol for baptism because it was used in the early church for baptizing. Mike then proceeded to use the seashell to pour water on the 17 baptismal candidates' heads to baptize them. As always, the church members were singing worship songs all during the baptism and cheering for people as they were baptized. After each person was baptized they would go to shore and to through a corridor of cheering people singing "I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."
The tide was coming in while we were doing the baptisms, so by the time we were half-way through the baptisms, the water was half-way up to our knees and the whole congregation was now in the water. One baptismal candidate was handicapped and could not walk into the water. We sang hymns with her and baptized her at the restaurant as patrons of the restaurant looked on and wondered what we were doing. Members of the church struck up conversations with the patrons and started to witness to them of Jesus Christ.
After the baptismal service, most of the members of Pradumri UMC went to Pastor Sarah's clinic to sing songs, pray with people, and evangelize in the area of the clinic, which is in downtown Chonburi. We were not able to go with them because we had a meeting to go to with the landlords of a house we will be moving into next month. In a future post, I will give our new address. This other house is older than the one we live in now, but is larger and has better internet service (which has been a serious problem at our present location, where service is down as much as it is up.)
It has been a day full of blessings. God is good!