Baptisms in the US are celebratory affairs! A decision for Christ is cheered by supportive friends and church members with warm smiles and pastoral support. So, it is astounding and humbling to read the simple and profound stories of baptism from frontline leaders around the world.
Take for example the baptism of a new brother from North Korea, who came to Christ through outreach efforts in the region. Global Advance’s partner reported, “He lives on the outskirts of the city. I hid nearby and waited until 4:00 AM to make sure it was quiet so we wouldn’t be discovered. He waited for my signal, and then we quickly walked down to the frozen river. There’s a hole in the ice where they wash. I baptized him there.” They plunged into the icy water together, and there in the pre-dawn darkness, a new life in Christ was born. The chill was undoubtedly shocking, a sharp reminder of the danger of this decision if the wrong people found out. But at the same time, what a celebration it was! For “the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17b ESV).
Though an icy baptism at four in the morning may be unique in practice, it is extremely common in its urgency, careful planning, and implied risk. Frontline Leaders supported by Global Advance hide new believers in their homes, bus them to remote locations, and relocate them to new cities and countries for baptism ceremonies because of the dangers that surround this symbolic decision. What is beautiful about baptism in these areas of the world is that there is no gray area. It’s a full commitment. It is “death” to a former way of life and a former belief system. Our new brothers and sisters boldly and unreservedly enter the water in symbolism of their cleansing from sin and rise resurrected like our Savior.
But they also rise marked as targets.
Often so tragically the one who is baptized is considered dead by their family and community. Many times, their family does try to kill them. That is the danger of the resurrected life.
Your monthly support helps us rescue and relocate new believers so they can thrive in their new faith and learn how to share it with others. It also equips frontline leaders so they can continue sharing the Gospel and baptizing new believers on the front lines.