Something which is often on our hearts is the ongoing spiritual health of those who come to Christ through the evangelistic campaigns we conduct. When a person embraces Jesus at one of our meetings, the obvious question is “What now?” The Lord meets people when we preach the Gospel and those who have never known Jesus call upon Him. The apostle Peter wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Pet 1:3-4). He describes salvation as new birth—new life. But new birth is obviously not the end of the story, for birth is a beginning. In the next chapter, Peter instructs his readers, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (2:2). “Newborn babies” are meant to “grow up.”
This is the life of following Jesus. And this is why we are always aware of the importance of follow-up and discipleship when a person first encounters Christ. The local pastors and their congregations are the ones directly involved in discipleship in the places we minister. We are truly grateful for their ministry. We truly need them. To use the language of new birth again, it is essential to deliver the child but equally important to care for, love, and teach that child.
The primary way that we have measured the ongoing spiritual health of those who call upon Jesus for salvation at our meetings is through water baptism. For one year following each campaign, our crusade directors report the number of people that were saved and subsequently baptized at a local church. This is a good indicator that a new Believer has taken steps in his or her discipleship, for it means that they have a relationship with a local church body. Also, Jesus Himself instituted baptism and Christ-followers have been baptized since the beginning of the church; it is therefore a public demonstration for these new Believers of their participation in the faith community. They are identifying with Christ as they are baptized, for not only was Christ baptized by John the Baptist, but Paul likens His death and resurrection to baptism. He says, “[A]ll of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death”—our death to sin. Paul continues, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:3-5). Hallelujah! We believe this is what has happened for the people who hear and receive the Gospel, and baptism is part of this process.
In early 2017, we ministered in Myanmar and Nepal. Since then, 68% of the people who were saved have been baptized in local churches! Since the beginning of our ministry in 2000, 138,062 people who have come to Christ through our ministry were baptized in the following year. We praise God for this! Please pray that the young Believers in Myanmar and Nepal would continue to grow up in their faith, and for their pastors and church leaders to shepherd them well.