They came for baptism. A 50 year old man. A twenty-something woman and her five year old daughter. A father in his early thirties along with a grade-school-aged son and a pre-school-aged son.
Their church had encouraged them to be baptized when a teacher from 316NOW came to lead a two day retreat. Before the baptism 316NOW’s pastor carefully explained the Scripture’s teaching about baptism. Then, dipping his fingers into a bowl of water, he assured these six souls of their welcome into God’s kingdom through water and the Word. Their fellow church members committed themselves to stand by them.
The church doesn't baptize children
Baptizing children is a huge change in practice for Chinese Christians.
Christian parents in China are not invited to bring their children to be baptized. Unfortunately most churches teach that baptism is a requirement believers participate in only after they decide to fully commit their lives to Jesus. So the large majority of Christians don’t understand that baptism is primarily a sacrament where God graciously commits himself to us.
This church, however, had leaders who learned from 316NOW’s faculty the real purpose of the Spirit’s washing. Here adults and children were encouraged to bathe in God’s special assurance of forgiveness.
The state forbids baptizing children
Children are not baptized for another reason. China has a law against exposing anyone under 18 to any religious instruction. By having their children baptized these parents were violating their country’s law. But obeying their Father took precedence over obeying their government.
The Spirit is stronger
316NOW has seen a change in the Christian groups we work with over the last decade. Ten years ago providing baptism to children rarely happened. Now, after patient instruction by faithful and caring teachers, baptism of children happens regularly.
The Spirit has been at work through Word and sacrament. Even the smallest of children are coming to Jesus.