WHAT started as a solemn, serious affair of the soul turned into joyful fun in the sea.
And who could blame the 100-odd Cambodians, young and old, who were baptised en masse at the Tonle Bati River on Jan 18, 2003, for jumping into the river for some ducking and swimming?
The weather was perfect, it was a bright, sunny day, the water was warm and clear, and they were already made wet by their immersion in the river 40 km south of Phnom Penh.
More than an hour before the baptism service got under away, they were all nestled under an open hut at the edge of the river chatting away, smiling, laughing. They had their food beside them. There was taped Christian music. It was a scene of a picnic.
As with the ordination service held the previous day, the baptism service was well co-ordinated by the Rev Kevin Lowe, the Methodist Missions Society’s Country Co-ordinator for Cambodia, and his team of Singapore missionaries.
The baptism service began with the singing of songs of praise in the Khmer language. There was so much joy and the people were so fervent in their worship.
When the 15-minute session was over, the Rev Lun Sophy – one of the 10 Cambodian pastors ordained the previous day – introduced Bishop Dr Robert Solomon to those about to be baptised and the other worshippers.
In his exhortation based on the passage from Acts 22 verses 14 to 16, Bishop Dr Solomon told them that “baptism is a privilege and with it comes the responsibility of living as Jesus’ disciples”.
The Rev Lun Sophy, together with the other newly-ordained Cambodian pastor, the Rev Prak Vuthy, the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, President of the Chinese Annual Conference, the Rev Dr Vinson Samuel, President of Emmanual Tamil Annual Conference, and the Rev Lowe, then led the 98 Cambodians to the river to be baptised by immersion.
One by one they headed towards the five pastors, and within half an hour, all were baptised. They then gathered close to one another, still in the water, for Bishop Dr Solomon to say a prayer for them. Prayer over, they burst into a rapturous roar with outstretched hands and the “V” sign.
This, indeed, was a day of Victory for Christ.
STORIES AND PICTURES BY PETER TEO
DATELINE: PHNOM PENH