The Silent Celebration
Sometimes obedience requires risk—and creativity
My church recently held a baptism ceremony for new believers. As soon as those being “dipped” came up out of the water, we all erupted in cheers. It was a powerful moment. A life reborn is worth shouting from the rooftops..
Watching the joyful scene reminded me of another baptism.
“Jonas,” an undercover partner of the Persecuted Christians Ministry, secretly shares the message of Christ’s redemption with North Korean migrant workers. Unlike the noise often associated with celebrations we have here in the US, this particular celebration was held in joyful silence. You see, if anyone were to find out about the baptism, the lives of Jonas and the workers he ministers to would be in grave danger. Religion is still illegal in North Korea, and punishable by death.
As an undercover evangelist, Jonas smuggles supplies and the gospel message to men working in remote North Korean hard-labor work sites. These secret camps are part of a corrupt program to fill government coffers by providing cheap labor for allied nations. Men are made to work inhumane hours in unsafe conditions. They receive inadequate food, shelter, and very little pay to provide for their hungry families back home. Jonas and his team have been beaten, had rocks thrown at them by guards, and have even faced imprisonment. Even so, they are steadfast in their mission, knowing that it may be the only time the North Korean workers hear the gospel.
That’s why there is a great reason to celebrate when one of the workers becomes a believer. Some who receive Christ want to be baptized immediately, a step which brings some challenges. Jonas described the baptism he conducted like this:
He (the North Korean worker) lives on the outskirts of the city. I hid nearby and waited until 4:00 AM to make sure it was quiet to avoid detection. He waited for my signal, and then we quickly walked down to the frozen river. There’s a hole in the ice where they wash. I baptized him there.
They plunged into the icy water together, and there in the pre-dawn darkness, a new life in Christ was born. The chill was undoubtedly shocking, a sharp reminder of the dangerous decision if the wrong people found out.
An icy baptism at four in the morning may seem highly unusual, but it is more common than you would think. Through the Persecuted Christians Ministry, I’ve met many partners who secretly hold river baptisms in dangerous areas of the world. Because of your incredible support, these partners can bring men caught in darkness into Christ’s glorious light.
Now that’s something to celebrate.
For those of you who continue to support the Persecuted Christians Ministry, thank you. You have a vital role in the lives of our dear persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ! Interested in Jonas’ mission? Click here to find out how you can help bring hope to a North Korean migrant worker.
Together in Christ,
Director, Persecuted Christians Ministry