Monday, September 5, 2016

Baptism, Then Jail

     Our church is big on changed lives, and baptisms. We celebrate baptisms once a month. Several times a year we have an outdoor cookout in the courtyard of the high school we meet at and have an outdoor baptism celebration.

There is a microphone outside the baptism tank and after each service several hundred people gather around to hear the “God stories” from those being baptized. It is inspiring to hear what brought them to this point and how their lives have changed because of choosing to follow Jesus.

People are nervous about talking in front of a crowd. But that is the special part, hearing how God has changed their life and seeing their excitement to start a new life following Christ. Last Sunday brought several of these stories:

* One man was agnostic his whole life, didn’t know what he believed, until some neighbors invited him and his family to church. He had a huge smile and such joy when he came up out of the water. He had been lost and now is found.

* One high school student had never been to church before. Her parents did not believe in God, but allowed her to come to church when a friend from school invited her. After attending the High School student ministry for several months and the student camp, she knew she wanted to be a Jesus follower. None of her family came to watch her get baptized, but her new church family cheered her on.

* Another man heard about how God loved him and forgave him while he was in jail, through our jail ministry. When he was released he could not wait to get baptized and start his new life following Jesus. Because he was still on probation, he was wearing an ankle monitor, which could not be submerged in the baptism tank. No problem, my husband and another man filled a cooler with water and drenched him. He was so happy!

Then a quiet teenage girl came. She made some bad decision in her life regarding drugs, but desperately want to leave that lifestyle and have a real relationship with Jesus. Her Mom, who had prayed for this day and had been through a lot with her daughter, stood in the baptism tank beside her, tears of joy streaming down her face.

Yesterday, that Mom came to me at church, her eyes red and swollen, filled with tears again, but no joy. She said the Monday night, after the baptism celebration on Sunday her daughter was arrested. 

My heart went out to her. I prayed for her and told her, who her daughter really was, who God created her to be, was who she was last Sunday. The temptations and evil of this world are so great for teenagers, it is difficult to break away and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

I hope to visit her this week and tell her, reconfirm what she already knows, that the God of the universe loves her, has forgiven her, and has an amazing life planned for her, if she will choose to follow Him.

                  Her baptism was real.
                                    Her jail time is not too difficult for the God who loves                                                              her to use it for good in her life.

Will you join me in praying for her and her Mom?