I went down to river to pray…

The word baptism can bring up many memories depending on the person. Some were baptized when they were young, and some were baptized when they were very old. Some were baptized in a fancy baptistery, and others may have been baptized in a trough in the youth group! However it happens, it is a beautiful event to take part in and to watch. I can remember sitting in “big church” in the United States as a child and as an adult, and being overwhelmed at the sight of baptism. It is profound to hear the public confession  of someone who has committed his or her life to Jesus. Sometimes, I feel that baptism can become routine or ordinary for a Christian. You see it every few weeks in church and the people repeat the same thing over and over. However, in the eyes of the Lord, it is extraordinary.

Keith and Pastor Tom praying before the baptisms began.

The account from Mark contains a beautiful picture of the baptism of Jesus. “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descended to Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are my beloved Son; I take delight in You!” Mark 1:9-11  (HCSB).

The LORD tore open the heavens when Jesus was baptized, and He sent the Holy Spirit down. How incredible. What a blessing we have as believers to be privilege to the Holy Spirit. What a blessing we have to be welcomed into the family of God, to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, to be plunged into the water as a symbol of washing away the old and being raised to new life.

A couple of weeks ago Keith had the unique privilege to participate in the baptisms of 10 youth who attend Pastor Tom’s church. Tom baptized 10 others. The youth had made personal decisions to follow Jesus and had been counseled by some of the adult leaders at Tom’s church. This Sunday was baptism Sunday for them. Here in Kenya, there are no fancy baptisteries. Instead, you go down to the river.

DSC00773The children made the 1 mile walk down to the river together from Tom’s church.  The children had brought a change of clothes in a grocery sack so they could return to church in dry clothing. Some of the elders came along carrying tarps to set up a changing curtain along the shore, one tarp  for the boys and one tarp for the girls. Many of them were giddy with excitement. There was some silliness and laughter on the bank of the river. It is an unusual ritual that can come with some nervousness. They formed a line and began entering one by one. Each one waded out into the water to Keith and Tom and each was submerged into the water.

 As I stood on the shore, I could hear Keith’s voice every now and then. I could hear him saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in the newness of life.” What power those words have for a believer, what hope! Our sins are washed away; they are buried with Christ. He rose again so that we could have new life. What a joy! It was an incredible sacrament to be a part of that day, one that I will remember forever. As Keith was baptizing, I prayed for each child. I prayed that the Lord would guide their lives and show them his love. I prayed that the LORD would provide for their needs. I prayed that He would raise up a generation in Kenya who seeks his face. A generation to change this nation for His glory.


As I write this blog, I am still overwhelmed for these precious lives. Life in Kenya is hard. For these children, many of them only eat when K4K, is held at Tom’s church 3 days a week. Several of them are orphans, living with church members who will help care for them in the absence of their parents. Their life will not be easy, but they now have life and life abundant in Jesus Christ. They have hope in the Savior of the world. They have Living Water in Jesus Christ. Their God loves and cares for them. They can cast their burdens on Him for He cares for them. These are the promises we teach them. This is our HOPE!

Baptism still gets to me in my core, whether young or old. It brings me to tears. It is a beautiful picture of God’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in Kenya. Thank you for supporting us and the K4K program. It is more than just feeding orphans and widows. It is a way to share the gospel with the community. This gospel, our gospel, changes lives for eternity.



As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown? Good Lord, show me the way

O sinners let’s go down,
Let’s go down, come on down,
O sinners let’s go down,
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way!

O children let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O children let’s go down
Down in the river to pray




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