This weeks baptisms of twelve (12) new disciples of Jesus in two different locations in my province has raised me some questions about it and I would like to address some questions of people around which they throw at me regarding water baptisms in the past 5 years and present. They are good questions which helps me find answers as we go on making disciples. Although some have accuses me of majoring in baptising people to the point of questioning me: “Are they for real?” or “Are you guys just looking for people to baptise?
When I met this guy named Wolfgang Simson in Bandung, Indonesia during the 1st Asian House Church Summit, think its about 5 years ago now, he said to me while having meal together: “Molong, when my plane was delayed for two hours in Cebu from Mindanao going home, and as I was sitting at the airport the Lord told me that Cebu would be a church planters launching pad in the Philippines.” Well, since then that’s how we start making disciples and sends disciples to other islands to make disciples. I say “since then” because five years ago backwards all I did is train up leaders to maintain my house churches that does meetings after meetings to traditional christians from different churches. And did that for 8 years but that was a different story of my life.
Back to the 12 new disciples being made this week, it happens in one of our island that we reach out from scratch. “From scratch” I mean is that we don’t go to places where there are Christian churches or Christians and connect them to do seminars on house churches. Instead, we go to places where there’s no making disciples happen in that area. We know no one, not a “Christian person” at all but just have a friend, not just a friend but an “unbeliever” friend who became our “man of peace.” Talking about “seminars, summits and conferences” on house churches, we the saints in Cebu has graduated from doing that. And sad to say that we fail, for 8 years of doing it, didn’t pass the exam: we didn’t make any disciples at all. Not even one.
As we kept on making disciples one, two, three people we don’t wait for others to be made that day and have a “grand” baptism of twelve people, we just don’t delay baptisms. We did three sets of baptisms. When we’re done on the second set and went back to our “house of peace” where disciples assembled as family together, some three pregnant women sitting on the grass outside the fences, honestly, they look like in a cage as they are the only ones who is “outside” the fence and wish I took a photo of them and showed it here because its a prophetic scene I perceive. Anyway, while I face the saints and had some wonderful times together, the father of the house called me from my back saying, “Hey Molong, these three mothers too would like to get baptise.” And as normal as this approach have become around here it’s still always leave me dumbfounded.
“Well, did you or someone have already talk to these ladies?” I ask the father and everyone. It means that if these ladies wants to get baptise then someone must have made them disciples of Jesus right? Of course, can’t get baptise if you’re not deciding to become His disciples! I found out that no one talks to them yet. Finding out the problem right away, I called out Jonathan, the man who knows them, with some saints and have them sit down somewhere and listen to the gospel of the Kingdom to them and ask them to decide if they want to become a part of the kingdom of God by becoming a disciple of Jesus. in about a couple of minutes, they were baptise immediately. We don’t make disciples to someone unless he is our friend. Relationships is crucial in making disciples as it sets the foundation of growth of the life of Jesus in us in a family atmosphere. Jonathan is our guy who knows them as they are from the neighbourhoods.
Our second to the last baptisms in that island (“Olango” is the name of the island), which happened 3 weeks before is a man running towards the ocean where some 10 baptisms happened by some disciples. Oh, not me baptising those 10 and this guy running but the disciples there. Disciples in this island is from 3rd to I think, maybe 6th generation. Quite confusing now as we reach up to the 14th generation now. We lost count. Sorry.
Anyway, why is it unbelievers are acting this way wanting to be baptise? A good question right? It is my question too. But honestly, I do not know, however, I have an assumption. Later,..
Two weeks ago, a “Conference” takes place up north of my country Manila. It was attended by 130 pastors and leaders. A one-day event that I have to speak the whole time. I know, it’s a “conference” LOL :-) it wasn’t me who set me up but my host there which what’s suppose to be a teaching on house church life with her 4 students in a prayer school that she started became a “pastors and leaders” event! Well, to cut a story short I shared stories upon stories of making disciples here with two of the saints shared their stories also and at the middle of the day I baptise someone as a demo to them. Wait, a what? A “demo?” What’s going on here Molong? The candidate was my host driver name Jojo, she was made into a disciple by my host then the night before the event but I ask her if I can have the privilege of baptising just for the sake of doing a demo in front of everybody. It is actually our rule that he who can make disciples to the person is the one baptising him, but this time I made changes for a purpose. But my host is with me on the side while doing it.
We put a big barrel inside the venue and filled it with water. Then I said to these leaders, “This may sound ridiculous or am I being proud in doing this because I know all of you has been doing baptisms, why should I do this in front of you then? Please give me the privilege of doing something different and judge yourself if how we do baptism is the quickest and simplest way to make ready a way for Jesus to return? As I said earlier” I continued, “If your way of making disciples is complicated then you must be the reason why Jesus Christ didn’t come back yet. The same way we do baptism. If your way of doing it is complicated: let him have the ‘fruit’ of repentance first (good works), or let him go through “stages of growth” first and only then he can be baptise. Then we set a “day of baptism” of which is called “another holy day” to baptise him, ophs, he and the other participants for baptism must wear white robes, and then the pastor will share a lesson on baptism or a preaching about it to make sure the “spiritually” dead person understands it (?) and finally dunk him underground for 5 minutes to be sure he’s going to heaven!” Everyone burst into laughter (I am glad!). Poor Jojo interrupts me saying, “Maybe 2 minutes?” True, he was that willing for me to bury him and that’s because he get it!
“I baptise you in Jesus Name.” I said while dunking Jojo underwater. Done. This man’s sin was forgiven and wash a minute ago and has new life. He is ready to follow Jesus then. See, “old life” of Jojo doesn’t know how to follow Jesus. Only the “new man” knows how to follow Jesus. In most evangelistic crusade in my country, like big “man of God” preaching to the crowd and then do “sinner’s prayers” and then declared, “Now, receive the new life” (something like that, you know what I’m talking about). My question is: how can the person received the “new life” without burying the “old life” into baptism?
When we just started making disciples and baptising people immediately, a friend ask me, “Do you have to baptise people?” Here is my one-dollar answer to his one-million question: Before I will answer you, answer me first. Is the person saved after saying the “sinner’s prayer” or not? If so, then where can we find that in the Bible? And I can show you that “baptism” not “sinners prayer” is the sign that a person is saved. Do I have to baptise the person? Well, if you don’t have to baptise the person that you are making into a disciple of Jesus then you don’t know how to make disciples at all. When you make a person a disciple of Jesus you let him know that he is dead because of his sin. It is not only Jesus that has killed because of his sin, he also was killed because of his sin. And the life that he is living is the result of it called “old-life.” And Jesus way of dealing with the “old life” is not to repair it but to kill it and bury it in baptism. We may have our “own ways” of dealing it and ask God to cooperate with that, but we know that Jesus way is to bury it in baptism. So if you’re not informing people of their “deathness” then you’re not making the person into a disciple. You’re not doing making disciples, maybe “evangelism” like what they most do.
We make disciples and bury them directly without delay. “Baptism delayed is disobedience” as my friend Victor Choudhrie says. Only one thing you can do to dead people: bury. Can’t teach them, not yet. “Make disciples,” Jesus said, “then baptise them” and then “teach them to obey.” Teaching comes “after” burial of old self. Of course, spiritually dead people cannot understand spiritual things of God.
We make disciples and baptise them immediately. You know, when I did some “evangelism activities and crusades” I have never encountered people saying “I want to be baptise, can I?” Never happened for those many years, although for sure we had many “decision cards” that was filled up by the crowd but people asking to be baptise? No way. So, I myself have questions that needed answers like you. So this week, I ask God: “Why I was being accused of being an expert in baptism?” And here is what God said to me:
“Molong, if only My people would obey to go and make disciples then it is not only you that will be accused of it but all of My people.”
My “Conference” host named Virginia while on our way to the airport going home to Cebu ask me to lay hands on her, she said, “Give me your anointing of water baptism,” I laugh hard and didn’t do it. “My 92 year old chinese buddhist mother was baptised last night because of you.” She said, “Many pastors I bring, many months of prayers. She accept Jesus but said no to baptism. But when you came you didn’t even say a word but when she knew that you came to baptise her she said yes.” Of course, how can I communicate to her chinese mother when I don’t know how to speak chinese?! So I said to her, “It’s nothing to do with me Virginia as you see that I didn’t do anything at all except baptise her as you ask me too. You and your chinese friends did the talking.”
An Ausie couple came this week, a long time 7 year friend. Our second time to met then here. After hearing our stories and witness 12 baptisms (just 12 up to the what generation?) he ask me that before they will leave we will lay our hands on him and his wife. In obedience everyone of us did lay our hands on each other and prayed for the “anointing” no basically to “water baptise” but to make disciples.
This month also we were visited by two men from south of my country, Mindanao. They came knowing nothing what to do except to see me as they were told by their friend from Australia to see me. After a week here, helped build houses for typhoon victims with my team, they went home and in two weeks they baptise 43 people! I showed interest so I ask what’s going on and their reply is, “Maybe this is the result of our visit to you?!” I inquire more to find out if there is something in common here on how they did it. Words that stand is, “I will make you a disciple” “You are dead because elf your sin” and one of them said, “We got many bible study groups and we told them that maybe your life hasn’t change because you were not buried yet in baptism? All agreed and so they did what needs to be done.” By the way, if you ask me if we “laid our hands” on them, answer is No.
I finally ask one of them named Ronald, “Out of 43 baptisms, how many starts making disciples to their friends and do baptism?”
“Eight.” was his answer.
Last month’s baptisms is 27 mostly by a widow of 49 year old. This month’s baptism is 76 in 4 different locations.