I enjoy Easter services at my church because there are always baptisms. Baptism has meaning to me because it was one of the first things I really researched and studied as an adult figuring out if I was a believer on all the craziness. I realized it is about resurrection, new life and new victories and public profession. About taking something hidden and making it public. Public the good sense not the “oh, I didn’t want you to know that” sense. I picture migrant workers flying out a bathtub-esque baptism in Malaysia yelling “HE IS RISEN”.
Also I really like seeing baptisms because it reminds me of my journey. A section of my story most people don’t know and this seems like a good time to make that public.
I was raised Lutheran and therefore baptized as a baby. I was less than a month old when some water was sprinkled on my head. This was the tradition of the faith, as was 2 years of classes in middle school where I made a public confirmation of my faith. Then I left the church during the college party years. I researched faith on my own. I told God to find me and told Him to leave me alone when He did a couple times. There was a lunch with the Mormons where I was offered a white robe during a quick stop at a branch service to “see something incredible”.
When I returned to faith a couple years later with gusto I assumed that since I was baptized as a baby I was good. But friends reminded me I had basically divorced God. I told him to leave me alone and needed to admit I was back… also I was different now. Most of the conversations ended with me saying something super spiritual like, “Ill pray about getting dunked next time”. It wasn’t inhibiting my faith…in fact I barely thought about it unless it was in front of me at a service or heard of a friend professing their belief.
In 2004, while serving with a YWAM team in Nepal one of the tasks was to build an outdoor baptismal for the international church service the next day. There had been a truck load of bricks delivered and a few massive blue tarps purchased. Now we just had to stack them and line the tub-like pit. I think there was even some brick steps added inside the now baptismal looking pool.
From the time I heard we were doing this until we were done I fought the voice in my head saying I needed to talk to someone about getting dunked. If I would get baptized publicly it would be around more friends back in Alaska, not in a foreign country while on “outreach”. But the voice only got stronger so late that night I interrupted my leader’s meeting to ask them if it was possible. They were surprised but said I should sleep on it and bring a change of clothes to church. When we got there, I chatted with the pastor who said not only was there a possibility but it would be a great story one day. Then he explained the significance of the location. That the people that surrounded us and whom I had made friends with still risked shunning for taking the step of public baptism. Switching faith systems often meant drama at home, work, in the neighborhood and occasionally the entire community. For this reason, baptisms were not allowed to happen and often shut down before they started leaving new followers without the chance of proclaiming. They often only had one or two opportunities and would jump at a chance to do it if they could. Yet, I was letting another chance slip through my fingers if I waited again.
So on January 18th (or so) 2004, I climbed into a nearly freezing cold baptismal outside of Patan, Kathmandu, Nepal, submerged under the water to burst up with the assistance of a Scottish pastor to yell “HE IS RISEN”.
It makes me love the tradition of baptism and makes me rejoice when someone comes up out of the water…a new creation.