Work in Congo often means ‘third’ baptism
ST. LOUIS—Three baptisms may seem excessive to most people, but to most of the Congolese people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R. Congo, which formerly was Zaire), it is a true test of salvation.
James Renot and his wife, Rhonda, have recently returned from a two-year International Mission Board (IMB) missionary journey where many of the tribal peoples were baptized as infants in the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Churches in the D.R. Congo differ greatly from the Roman Catholic Churches in America in that they are deeply involved in pagan practices and beliefs.
Many of these tribal families baptize their infant children into their form of Catholicism. Sometime later, many of the same people as adults join a Protestant or “Baptist” church. These churches are also heavily influenced by false doctrines and beliefs mixed with African Traditional Religions. Many of their beliefs were built upon the false doctrine that Jesus is not God Incarnate and that demons are more powerful than Christ.
The Renots shared the truth of Christ and salvation with the tribal people who, although baptized twice, were not true believers in the Christ of the Bible. Many tribal people pray a prayer to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior but are unwilling to be baptized as a genuine follower of Christ.
They believe if they are baptized again it would mean they were not saved previously. They also know they are making a statement about the baptism of their friends and family members. Those who experience a third baptism are saying their baptism follows faith and repentance in Jesus Christ alone and not church traditions or works.
The Lord blessed the Renots with many experiences while serving in foreign missions. They saw a witchdoctor from the Yombe Tribe, as well as a village chief from the Yansi Tribe (one of D.R. Congo’s largest unreached people groups) come to Christ. While James mentored the leadership of over 20 existing churches, he and Rhonda shared Bible stories at the men’s and women’s prisons. In addition, they taught Congolese believers how to start and lead small discipleship groups.
How does a young Royal Ambassador become a missionary to a nation like D.R. Congo? Never underestimate what God can do with a surrendered life.
James Renot, like a modern day Jonah, did not always have a surrendered life to the will of God. Renot was saved at an early age. and as a Royal Ambassador he was introduced to the importance of missions. As a teen, he went on two mission trips to Mexico to help build church buildings.
At the age of 18, Renot knew God was calling him into full-time ministry. He also knew missions were a part of his call. Instead of pursuing God’s call right after high school, Renot joined the U.S. Navy and, like Jonah, sailed away. He knew what God wanted him to do, but he did not feel like he knew enough Bible or was spiritually mature enough to do it.
After his tour of duty, Renot landed back home in St. Louis and eventually attended the First Baptist Church of Arnold. The pastor, Gerald Davidson, and his brother went on a revival trip to Bolivia, and Renot went along in order to work on an orphanage. He admired how Pastor Davidson used every opportunity to lead someone to Christ.
Every time the missionary stopped and picked up a Bolivian hitchhiker, Pastor Davidson witnessed about Jesus. After two days of modeling how to witness, Pastor Davidson turned to Renot and said, “Now it’s your turn.” At that moment Renot understood missions in a new light, that while the construction of church buildings and orphanages was important, going and making disciples was Christ’s command.
Renot did not immediately leave for seminary but his “smoking flax” was there, fanned into a small fire, and within a few years James and Rhonda met and were married. James did not know, but Rhonda had surrendered to God’s call to serve in foreign missions many years before they ever met.
Later on, the Renots joined First Baptist Church of Lemay, where Pastor James Rice mentored them. Pastor Rice often took James with him on visitation and was the source of much encouragement. Additionally, others in the church helped to mentor James to follow God’s call. After bringing the message on Baptist Layman’s Day, James and Rhonda both knew it was God’s time and plan for them to serve in full-time ministry.
After a short time, James, Rhonda and their daughter, Lydia Grace, moved to Mississippi. James enrolled in the associate of divinity program at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Through the school’s practical missions program, James learned the importance of prayer and soul winning as he and Rhonda prepared to serve with the IMB as short-term missionaries. After graduation, they headed to Richmond for missionary orientation to prepare to go to D.R. Congo.
The path to becoming a missionary was not always a smooth one, but the Renots were blessed with God’s calm assurance through it all. They could see many answers to the prayers of Southern Baptist churches in Missouri, as well as in four other states.
Having returned from their two-year mission, James looks forward to finishing his bachelor’s degree and his master of divinity degree. He has been accepted as a student at Hannibal-LaGrange College and is a bivocational pastor at a small Missouri Baptist church in Palmyra.
“Don’t wait to do God’s will,” James Renot said. “If God is calling you to do something, do it. He will provide everything that you need and you will never be sorry or regret your obedience.”