Water and Fire

By Rachel Greco

Gary and Peggy took a long furlough in 2008, not knowing when they would return to their work among the Uramät Baining people of Papua New Guinea. In 2010, while still in their home country, they spoke with one of the translators they work with, who said he and the others had been kicked out of their church.

“What did you guys do?” Gary asked.

“Well, we took Acts 2:38 and started preaching it, that people need to repent and be baptized and receive the Spirit. After hearing our preaching, about 40 youth wanted to be baptized in water.”

Historically in the Uramät Baining area, church ministers have christened babies. When the translators translated Act 2:38: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” God used these words to convict the translators to be baptized as believers, and then to proclaim that message to others.

As these men traveled around their area preaching Acts 2:38, many others wanted to be baptized. Although it has caused some dissension among the people in the area, many continue to be baptized, and today, hundreds have taken this step.

Often after the people had been baptized, they were encouraged to consider any area of their life that held them in bondage and to write these things on a piece of paper. Then they threw them into a bonfire built for that purpose. Others would take certain personal items associated with witchcraft or a questionable cultural practice and throw them into the fire to represent their choice to live for Christ.

A bonfire has special significance in this culture because the Baining people use one in a cultural practice that they have performed for centuries. These Christians, however, have redeemed the bonfire by using it to honor God when they rid themselves of things that displease Him.

Believer’s baptism is now accepted more broadly in the area. Praise the Lord for speaking to these translators and prompting them to preach the relevant truth of God’s Word to their people.

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