U.S. Alliance Pastor Baptizes New Believers in the Jordan River
New Life Emerges from Murky Waters
A lone white dove hovered over 14 believers as they were immersed into the Jordan River recently, following Jesus in baptism. “What was amazing,” says Pastor Richard Mirpuri from the Word of Grace (Alliance) Church in Chicago, Illinois, who led the group on a tour in Israel, “is that they were not believers before the tour.”
This is not the first Israel tour that Rev. Mirpuri has led. In 2005, Word of Grace, a Filipino-American ministry in the Midwest District, joined a global, grassroots movement, focusing prayer and attention on the Middle East-specifically Jerusalem. The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, which was launched by a coalition of more than 500 Christian leaders around the world, drew participation from 53,000 churches in 72 nations that year.
Since then, Rev. Mirpuri has led several groups to the Holy Land for a prayer pilgrimage and Bible tour, initially among members of the church. This year, there were 27 participants, including people from Canada, the Philippines, New York, and California. Several of the participants were from Chicago’s Filipino community who are not members of the Word of Grace but learned about the trip from an article by Rev. Mirpuri that was published in a local Filipino community newspaper, in which he pens a regular column.
“I met the participants, the majority of whom were unbelievers, during the 2011 Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, when they signed up for the tour.” says Mirpuri, who uses the tours as an evangelistic tool. Before visiting the Jordan River, he explains the gospel message and challenges the participants to consider a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“During this last trip, almost all of the unbelievers in the group surrendered their lives to Jesus and went through the waters of baptism for the very first time at the Jordan River,” says Rev. Mirpuri.
“What is so cool is that during this occasion, the white dove came out of nowhere after the people emerged from the water. The dove hovered over the Word of Grace group, even while there were other groups in the water for baptism at the same time. This left such an impression upon the new believers that many of them openly wept through the whole event.”
One participant, a business executive from the Philippines, e-mailed Rev. Mirpuri after the trip, saying, “The Bible is so alive to me. As I read, especially the gospels, my mind brings me back to the very places we visited during our trip. Christianity will never be the same to me again.”
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