While we are encouraged to follow Paul as he followed Christ, most pastors don’t want to hear a missionary claiming Paul’s words from I Corinthians 1:17 as their life’s verse, “For Christ sent me not to baptize . . . .” Paul’s special ministry was the preaching of the Gospel, which does not include baptism. When we were traveling on deputation, we were not really looking to baptize people as much as we were concerned with evangelism. It was always our understanding that the church we were visiting would baptize those who were converted and willing to be baptized. However, as a missionary-pastor, it is necessary that this mindset change.
For some time we have struggled to find a consistent place where we could baptize those who confessed Christ as their Saviour. Milano (I imagine like most large metropolitan cities) is not baptism friendly. The few rivers or ponds in town are not really inviting, neither do I think it would be okay to baptize in the beautiful but shallow fountain in front of Castello Sforzesco. In the past, we have used a portable baptistery in our church meeting room, but it leaked and damaged the laminate flooring. We either had to find another one that did not leak or find somewhere else to go.
The Cook family in nearby Reggio Emilia recently started their church and purchased a large baptistery. We decided to have a baptismal service together at their church. We announced the date to our church in Milano and confirmed the availability with those who needed to be baptized. I knew of three people who had not been baptized and were awaiting our finding some solution. Within the next couple of weeks, two others called on Christ, including our daughter AnnMarie. In the end, I was humbled that 20 people, including 2 visitors, traveled over an hour south to witness and support 5 of our people get baptized. Fourteen of us met at Central Station in Milano at 7:20 in the morning to catch our train. We had a wonderful service, with one lady accepting Christ, followed by a meal and then the baptisms. Each person is so special to us and has a wonderful testimony, I wish you could meet all of them personally.
Maybe someday we will get to make a video, but for now I will briefly describe them. Ronnie was born in Italy, but his family is from the Mauritius Island. He came to Christ in his early teens and made a clear confession of his faith when I sat down with him several months ago. Jessica is from the Philippines and was in the hospital when her sister, who faithfully attends a sister church in Rome, led her to Christ. Grabiella is the mother of two of our Peruvian members and called on Christ the week before the baptismal service. Ioanna is a wife and mother of two fine children. Her husband is Italian, but she is from Greece. She accepted Christ some years ago while listening to preaching on the Internet and just recently has been coming faithfully to our church with her family. AnnMarie has just been the sweetest daughter one could ask for. She called on Christ the week before the baptismal service. We praise God for working in the lives of these wonderful people and ask your prayers for them as they continue to follow Him.
Missionaries to the people of Italy,
Christopher, Amy, William, AnnMarie, and Charlotte Yetzer