One of my favorite accounts of my last trip to the PI occurred near the end of my trip. Elder Manolo Dalman, Elder Resty Dalman and I traveled several hours to reach the home of Eld. Limbert Dalman, the brother of Elder Resty Dalman and Elder Manolo Dalman. I had an appointment to preach at the adjacent church building that night at 6 PM. We arrived shortly after lunch and met in Eld Dalman’s home with a minister from another order, named Ric Epis. The minister had been a friend of bro. Limbert’s for many years. Bro. Limbert had loaned him a book on the doctrines of Grace and Bro. Ric was interested, and believed much of what he had read. But he had many questions. So we spent the whole afternoon answering questions and discussing the scriptures. After about 2 hours, the lights obviously began to come on in this man’s heart and mind. He asked many doctrinal questions and seemed to be more and more satisfied with his new understanding of the doctrines of grace. Then he began to ask many practical questions about PB practice and views on other topics such as church discipline, the tribulation and the 1000 year reign, our interpretation of a literal lake of fire or everlasting punishment of the wicked, baptism, church discipline, etc.
As the time for services drew near and the church folks began to arrive early, I began to consider the message I might attempt to deliver that night and I stepped away from the other ministers and the ongoing discussion for a few moments. The good brother Ric then approached me and asked me an unexpected question. He said, will you baptize me? I said that I would be happy to do so, and that my flight did not leave until noon the next day and we would have plenty of time in the morning. After a few minutes of discussion it was decided that we needed to perform the baptism that evening due to Bro. Ric’s morning schedule of activities. The church members had mostly gathered at this point and the desires of Bro. Ric were expressed to the members. They were all happy to receive him and decided to delay the start of services until the baptism could be performed in the nearby Apao River. I changed clothes after being unsuccessful at convincing him to let Bro. Limbert baptize him.
We drove about 3 km to the nearby river which was above flood stage, very muddy, and swiftly flowing. As we approached the swollen river, Bro. Ric broke out into singing, “I surrender all”. This preacher said, “this will be my first real baptism – I just took a bath before.” From the looks of the muddy water, it was obvious that this time the baptism would not be a bath or wash away any filth of the flesh. He also said, “Now, brother Limbert will be my pastor, not just my friend.” With each statement he seemed to grow more happy and excited. We all sang a song and had prayer prior to entering the water.
We could not tell where the bank was supposed to be because the water was well above the normal line of the bank. We had a little difficulty safely getting to the spot to baptize, and we found the normal bank when we immediately dropped from knee deep water to chest deep water. We could have easily swept away in the swift current with that one step, but we were carefully anticipating it and being watchful. I leaned back against the bank and held bro. Epis close as I baptized him to prevent us from both washing downstream. Afterward, Bro. Ric was beaming with joy. We had another prayer and then He began singing again as we made our way back to the car to return to the church for services.
During services that night, bro. Ric was one more happy brother. He was beaming, smiling, and shouted AMEN several times. My topic changed from my earlier meditations and I spoke on the account of Philip and the Eunoch while attempting to make several comparisons to the events of the day. Bro. Ric was really happy and found an answer to a good conscious that he had not before experienced. This brother has since stayed in contact with me, e-mailing me several times and even calling me tonight. It is very expensive for a Filipino to call us here. After we spoke, he continued to text me several messages. I am truly thankful to God for this rich experience and for being blessed to be a part of the conversion of this happy soul. I am thankful that Elder Limbert Dalman, like most of our Filipino Brethren, is very evangelistic and willing to share the doctrines of grace with his neighbors, friends and family members. Bro. Ric is also very excited about sharing his newly discovered doctrinal truths with his family and friends. Although his brother-in-law passed away today and he will be traveling to the funeral services, he was excited as he anticipated sharing his new beliefs with his sister after the funeral services are over. I pray the Lord will bless this dear brother to have many successful years as a PB and maybe even an ordained elder someday.