This was no ordinary baptism but, in the small village of Utolica, Croatia, a little more than 60 miles (100km) south of Zagreb and near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, it became a small but significant event.
Marijan Plačković, a native to the region, had begun studying God's Word before the coronavirus crisis hit. On the basis of his new knowledge and experience with God, he made a decision to stand with Christ and publicly express it through baptism.
He regularly attended the local church in Sunja and planned to be baptized there. However, the coronavirus pandemic erupted and disrupted those plans with all churches facing temporary closure. However, his passion for Christ was such that he did not want to wait.
The church was faced with the challenge of adhering to the health rules decreed by the national crisis management committee while at the same carrying out his desire for baptism.
Church worship was not possible, but Daniel Purda decided that there must be a way. On Sabbath, March 28, 2020, he gathered together only three witnesses from the local church. Maintaining appropriate social distancing, they held a private ceremony in the back yard of a member's home in Utolica. They created an improvised pool using a large agricultural bin. The pastor then stood beside the bin and, following appropriate protective measures against infection, baptized the man.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there may have been only four people present, but the baptism brought joy to a much larger number who heard of this event, as equally, it brought rejoicing in heaven.
Church members were impressed at the positive example of their new brother in Christ who did not want to delay this important, life-changing decision, despite difficult circumstances. Accepting God’s mercy and making a covenant with Jesus does not know earthly limits and obstacles.
The pastor, respecting the pandemic prevention rules, will hold a ceremony of acceptance into the church membership at a later date when church gatherings are allowed to resume, but he has already welcomed our new brother into the fellowship of God’s people!
Translation by Matija Kovačević