It is early Saturday morning, the date 21 February 2015 and there is an excitement in the air as people come walking from every direction to the Maletsunyane River, just outside Semonkong, in the highlands of Lesotho.
The river looks like a lazy black snake curling & twisting in the valley. The wisp of fog that lay on the dark, black water has been burnt away by the sun which is now baking the black, cotton-soil mud next to the river. From the hills overlooking the river, you can hear the sound of the bells on the little groups of cattle, sheep and goats. Each group has a young shepherd boy looking after them, but it is clear that they are trying to figure out why there is a group of people gathering on the bank of the river? It is our 1st baptismal service!
Twenty five people line up on the bank of the river to be baptised. We also have some visitors with us, and we make an interesting crowd. Everybody listens intently as Ferdie explains again what baptism means, who may be baptised, as well as why we do it. Even the shepherd boys on the hills are listening.
Ferdie is the first one to wade into the river. He battles to keep his balance as he steps into about 20cm of thick sludge at the bottom of the river. The water is not too cold – thank you Jesus! Ntate Calestus follows him and will help him baptise the people. Sesotho songs praising Jesus for what He has done for us, rise up from the river, filling the valley and echoing amongst the hills. One by one the people step into the river, conquering their fear of the water as most of them can’t swim. Over and over we hear: “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savour?” “Yes, I have.” “I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Applause!! One by one the people declare that they are a new creation in Christ. Their joy is so real, you can almost feel it.
After everyone is baptised, we get in the vehicle and as we start driving to the road, a young lady comes running up to us, tears running down her cheeks. She is sorry that she is late, but please can we baptise her too? Back into the river Ferdie and Ntate Calestus wade, the people start singing again and she gets baptised.
Again we get into the vehicle and this time we reach the tar road, when someone points out a lady walking in a great hurry towards us. Me Lulu; she is also coming for baptism. This lady lives three hours walk away from Semonkong and started walking early that morning so she could also be baptised.
Back to the river we go and with much joy and song, she too is baptised. In total, 27 people declare their love and obedience to Jesus! Matthew 28: 19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
– Written by Lulu Visser