Bishop Doru de Ilioi, the man who baptized Mario Lopez in Israel's Jordan River last month, says many people who witnessed Lopez's baptism committed to follow Jesus and be baptized themselves.
In an email to CBN News, Bishop de Ilioi said he was at Israel's Jordan River for the baptism of his daughter, Eva, who recently confessed her faith in Christ. He arranged her baptism in the river with a tour group at the site where, according to tradition, John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
Ilioi serves as an ordained bishop with the Church of God International and is a consultant for religion in the Romanian Parliament.
The bishop told CBN News that Eva recognized Lopez, who was dressed in white, and she and her mother Maria, approached him. Lopez asked Eva why she was dressed in white, since he didn't see a priest. Eva told him her dad was changing and she was going to be baptized in the river. That's when Lopez asked her to introduce him to her father and said he wanted to be baptized too.
Mario Lopez and his staff before Mario's baptism in Israel's Jordan River. Photo courtesy: Bishop Doru de Ilioi
Ilioi writes he discussed with Lopez the fact that he was not Catholic as has been reported. But Lopez was adamant – he wanted Ilioi to baptize him.
"I don't care Padre Doru, we serve the same God and the same Jesus, right?" he quoted Lopez as saying.
The bishop says he also prayed with Lopez prior to his baptism, which was witnessed by many people at the site, as well as Lopez's staff.
"Praise God, he was not ashamed of following Jesus, getting baptized even if he was baptized when he was a little baby," Ilioi writes. "And also I thank God that so many millions of fans have an example to follow (Hollywood too)."
Greg, a friend of Mario Lopez, tearfully asked if he too could be baptized. Photo courtesy: Bishop Doru de Ilioi.
After Lopez was baptized, the bishop says his friend Greg asked him with tears in his eyes if he could be baptized as well.
"Then a lady, Lydia from Ghana, started crying and asked me the same thing," he says. "Then another young man named Eldad, whom I could not refuse, stepped forward and said he wanted to be baptized as well. So we went there to baptize Eva and the Holy Spirit worked in such a way that we baptized five people."
Lydia from Ghana gave her life to Jesus after watching Mario Lopez's baptism. Photo courtesy: Bishop Doru de Ilioi.
Assisting Bishop Ilioi with the baptisms was Petre Ursu, 81, a Pentecostal pastor ministering to two small churches in Romania.
Ilioi also shared that he had a private moment with Lopez after the baptisms were completed and they prayed together again.
"It was like I knew him all of his life," Ilioi wrote. "I noticed he wiped his tears...Then we hugged and went everybody on his way."
The bishop’s wife Crina and daughter Eva pose for a photo with Mario after the baptisms. Photo courtesy: Bishop Doru de Ilioi
Three days later, the bishop and his family ran into Lopez again while they were touring a cathedral more than 300 miles away.
"We hugged each other and visited with him a few minutes, remembering how God moved in such a mighty way at the Jordan River," the bishop wrote.