“In the early days of the church, baptism was a declaration that the believer was definitely identifying himself with that group of people who were called Christians and were despised and hated.
To be a Christian meant something.
To identify yourself with those who were called Christians meant persecution, maybe death; it meant being ostracized from your family, shunned by friends.
And the one act which was the final declaration of this identification was baptism.
As long as a man gathered with Christians, he was tolerated, but when once he submitted to baptism, he declared to all the world, ‘I belong to this despised group,' and immediately he was persecuted, hated, and despised. In baptism, therefore, the believer entered into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. A person might be a believer and keep it strictly a secret and thus avoid unpleasantness and suffering, but once he submitted to public baptism he had burned his bridges behind him.”
Dr. M.R. DeHaan
It's not a long walk, from the church to the river. Perhaps five minutes. Down the dirt road, take a left. Step quickly across the wooden bridge, rickety from age. Follow the dirt trail, packed hard from the tread of a thousand footsteps.
It is a path she's walked before and a river she knows well.
But today is different.
Today the trail leads to a place of declaration.
Today, to step into the water is to declare she is a Christ follower.
Today she leaves the old behind.
Baptism in Nepal is the great line of demarcation.
Simply attending church or declaring oneself to be a Christian is not nearly as important as stepping out in front of your community and following the Lord in believer's baptism. Many Hindus will accept a family member's church attendance or interest in the Bible, or even a statement of acceptance of Jesus Christ, but once a believer has been baptized, he or she has truly separated from culture, family and the remnants of the old life. Often, persecution follows baptism, and Nepali believers know the significance of a public walk to the river.
They know to be a Christian means something.
And they know to be a Christian often means suffering.
But they also know the Word is Truth.
They know the joy which comes from following the Lord.
They know the One True God.
And because they know the Truth, they are willing to walk to the river and sink beneath the water to proclaim their dedication to the One who made them, the One who called them and the One who saved them.