“I think I’m ready to be Baptized” he whispered to me after a couple of days at KIVU.
“Really? Why do you want to do that?” I asked.
“It’s time I make a stand. I’ve found the God who gives me hope, and this place is so special to me. I want it to be here.”
My friend Andy came to me the other day with a big weight on his heart. He said he had been baptized a long time ago, but he wanted to follow God and make sure he solidified his relationship with God.
We NEVER advertise that we do this, because we want students to dwell deeply abiding in their decision to follow Jesus. But the Bible is clear, starting with John the Baptizer and following through with Jesus, this sacrament is supposed to accompany our obedience to God. After all, if Jesus did it and we want to follow Him, then we should do it.
“Do you want it to be a private thing?”
“I don’t want the whole camp to know, but I have a couple of friends I’d like to share this with me.” He said.
So we invited about 8 of Andy’s closest friends to walk with us down to the pool in the river where it’s deep enough to dunk.
“Do you all know why we do this?” I asked.
“As a sign to the world that our old self is gone and our new self has been washed.” one student piped in.
“We do this with the ancient tradition, from the beginning of our faith. Just as John called the Jews to repent and be Baptized, we call our brothers and sisters who decide to follow Jesus to be Baptized as a sign of Obedience. It’s easy to just say, “I believe.” But when you stand in front of your family and friends to say to the world, ‘I want to commit my way to the ways of Jesus’ there’s something special.”
And I went on to help my friends understand the history of Baptism and the reasons why it’s important.
Again, we NEVER pressure anyone into doing anything without their own willing decision. But when it was time, I looked at my friend Andy and asked, “You really ready to do this?” He smiled with a big teenage grin, “LETS GO!”
We stepped in the frigid waters.
I prayed, “God, we commit our lives to you. And I Baptize my friend Andy…”
And the cheers rang out through the valley.
Somewhere between the dry Andy and the freezing cold wet man who came out of the water, my own soul was touched deeply. For thousands of years, followers of Jesus have decided to turn from the ways of the world and show their communities that they are ready to live a life consistent with the way Jesus outlined for His followers. Mainly, we’ve been called to Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And Love our neighbor as ourself.
With this community, we are embarking on the journey of life. We commit to continually try to follow Jesus and His way as best we can. We devote our lives to loving others no matter who they are, what they believe, or where they come from. We take serious the fact that peacemakers are called the Sons of God. We commit to the Jesus way, far from tradition or culture seeking to honor God with our lives.
I’m honored my friend Andy allowed me to be a part of His Journey.
This was another…BEST OF DAYS.