Posted on : Thursday September 9, 2021

Kids’ pool inside signals baptism, this time for first known believer in Southeast Asian village

A children’s pool set up in an indoor meeting space might have seemed a little out of place to some. But, to the members of the local church gathered to worship one Sunday this past April in Southeast Asia, it was cause for great celebration.

It was time to baptize Putri*, their new sister in Christ, and celebrate God’s work in her life. Not only was she the first believer in her family, but she was the first known believer in her whole village.

Putri grew up in a rural Muslim community and had never heard the gospel until she migrated to a large city in another Southeast Asian country for a job cooking at a school. A Christian coworker invited her to attend church. Believers there welcomed her when she did, and after the service, Da Ming*, one of the church leaders, struck up a conversation with her and began to share the gospel.

He knew the many challenges of sharing his faith with Putri. Not only were they from different cultures, but societal and familial pressure often made it difficult for people from a Muslim background to decide to follow Christ.

Da Ming’s choice also came with personal risk, just like the decision to even invite Putri to church initially. In their country, it was not uncommon for believers who shared the gospel with Muslims to face severe persecution. Some had even been abducted and were still missing years later.

Despite the challenges and risks, Da Ming knew that after Putri left that day, she might never come back. This could be their church’s only chance to share the love of Christ with her. So, he boldly explained the gospel story and invited Putri to follow Christ.

Putri immediately made a profession of faith and, even though COVID-19 restrictions soon meant they could no longer meet in person, Da Ming began discipling her over internet platforms.

Jonathan McGrath*, an IMB worker who attends the church plant, said it’s very rare for someone from a Muslim background to convert so quickly and without hesitation.

“It’s almost unheard of,” he said. “Her salvation to baptism story brings me great joy. It helped me see the potential for believers to set aside their fear, boldly share despite what might result, and take the initiative to disciple others.”

During Putri’s baptism, Da Ming led her through the process, just as he had led her to Christ and through her first months as a disciple.

“Do you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?” he asked.

“I do,” she answered.

“If your family and friends reject you because you follow Jesus, will you still follow?” he asked.

“I will,” she answered.

Then, as Da Ming baptized her, the church rejoiced.

“[Putri’s baptism] made me realize that there is hope in the gospel for even a lady with no Christian family from a village with no other Christians. God, in His sovereignty, brought her to another Muslim nation, where a bold Christian brother might share the gospel with her and where she might believe,” said McGrath.

Stella McMillian* is a contributing writer who serves among East Asians.

Cover photo: The sun rises over a lake in Southeast Asia (IMB photo).

*Names changed for security