Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Baptism - April 3, 2007

Baptism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. One of the things I have found here in Puerto Viejo is that baptism is very closely associated with salvation. That’s exactly what it should be associated with you might say, but, here in this culture things aren’t always what they seem. Misunderstandings and mis-information abound. Here in Puerto Viejo, there is a commonly held belief that being baptized means you go to heaven and not being baptized means... well, let's just say your future is up in the air...or maybe in the other direction if things don't go so well.

Jesus provided us with an example of baptism as did many of the early apostles. For them, baptism was an outward sign of a change that had taken place within a person as they turned their backs on the way they used to live (read "died to the old self") and began to go in a completely different direction (read "raised again to a new way of life") based on their faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is also a way for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, to identify with him in a personal, physical way. The bible says it this way "...those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!" 2 Cor. 5:17.

This inward change and identification with Jesus was celebrated recently when Johanna and Jetsi were baptized. Both of them had chosen to follow Jesus several years earlier but neither of them had been baptized. They had never marked their decision publicly. During discussions at our house church one night, both of them requested that they be baptized. They are excited about their faith and finally wanted to show friends and family what had taken place in their lives. The event brought together both the Spanish and the English speaking house churches along with an assortment of friends and family.

The evening of the baptism started with some pretty iffy weather. Right as we gathered at the river, the sky clouded up and it began to rain. Fortunately, God had other plans and the rain stopped as fast as it had started. I took some time to explain the meaning of baptism and to read some verses from the sixth chapter of Romans. We prayed and then Jetsi and Johanna were baptized. As you can see from the photos, Makena and our neighbor's dog Panbon got a front row seat so as not to miss any of the action. The smiles say it all as both ladies were excited and proud to share the moment with everyone that gathered.

One really cool thing that happened involved Jetsi's family. Her mother and father have been separated for many years and while they have a good relationship, they don’t get together as a family very often. This event brought them all together to share in the happiness of their daughter, which made Jetsi very happy. Afterwards we got together for food and a celebration which topped off a great event. Please pray for Jetsi and Johanna. Pray that they will continue to be identified with Jesus in every area of their lives and that this public marking of a personal decision will be one more event in two lives that continue to mirror Christ to the world around them.

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