Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 1,435 people showed up on the shores of a lake in Central Thailand to be baptized earlier this month.

The baptisms took place on September 6, with people from 200 villages showing up to make a declaration of faith together. The baptisms were organized by Free in Jesus Christ Church Association (FJCCA), a network of home churches in Thailand supported by Reach a Village.

Thailand was one of the first countries outside of China to report cases of COVID-19. However, they've also been one of the most successful at containing the virus.

"We attribute it to the mercy of God, for one thing," Robert Craft, the founder of Reach a Village, says. "Mercy and miracles, you put those two together and you're talking about our God." Craft says there are also likely cultural aspects at play such as high respect of authority and obedience to rules. "They're also what's called a Consensus Culture. So they usually make decisions as a group. There's not a strong individualistic bent as a group... they look to see the benefit of the broader good if you will."

This month's baptism breaks previous records for the most people baptized at once in Thailand of 520 people in January 2019, and then 640 people in October 2019.

Craft says that the Gospel has suddenly been exploding in the country the past few years. Thailand has been mostly resistant to the message of Jesus for the past 200 years since missionaries first arrived.

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At the end of 2016, the FJCCA had less than 20 churches when they began their village outreach strategy. The FJCCA organizes outreach teams made up of indigenous believers and leaders to go into unreached villages and start house church Bible studies with the view of having baptized believers in a Christian fellowship within every possible village. They now have over 700 house churches in hundreds of villages.

Fewer than one per cent of the population identifies as Christian in this area of Thailand. That's why, Craft says, they wanted to bring people together to be baptized at once.

"With that low of a population, they might be eight or 10 or 12 or 15 believers in a particular village, (and they) might feel quite isolated, and quite separate. One of the causes for them bringing in people to one central location is to show them that they are part of something bigger. The Kingdom of God, the family of God, is bigger than just the message that you received. Look! There are these other people who are also receiving this message, and they've come today too. It's amazing that God is doing this, and He's helping consolidate the Thai church and helping them realize that this is really His movement."