Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 25, 2010

Six-inch Baptistry

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Baptism is not a stranger to most religious people.  From sprinkling to full immersion, religious groups practice baptism.  Those that practice full immersion need, or course, a place for the baptism. It may be a baptistry in the building,  a lake, river, or swimming pool.  It needs to be deep enough to perform the baptism of the person.

Will six inches do?  Well, if the person is less than six inches thick!  Who knows someone that size?  But it is amazing what you can do in six inches of water!

I was in the mountains of Haiti . . . some 250 miles up in that rugged bush country.  (Read blogs: Haiti: Memories and Grief, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/01/14; Voodoo in Haiti — My Encounter, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/01/16; Hunger in Haiti, www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/02/01.  I traveled with my friend who was born and raised in Haiti.  He had established several ministries, and we were traveling his circuit.  Amid the voodoo drums and suspicious eyes, we  camped at a location where believers would gather for a Saturday afternoon service.

It was more than a worship service.  A young couple was getting married.  There was no formal license or registration, but for them it was only a religious ceremony that they desired as a witness to others and the seeking of God’s blessing.  As an American, they felt honored that I was there.  They asked me to be a witness.  I have no idea what was said in the ceremony, but I was indeed honored to be a part of this unique event.

The following morning there was another worship service followed by a baptismal service.  These Haitian friends believed immersion was the scriptural way to give testimony of their salvation–yet knew that no water baptism was necessary for salvation.  I affirmed their conviction.  (Now I have gone and gotten theological!)

We went down to a small stream.  I looked around for some place where perhaps they had dug a deep hole so that the water would be deep enough.  The water was only a few inches deep–my estimation, six inches!  How will my friend immerse these two people in this shallow water?

Several men began to pick up rocks from the stream bed and attempted to build a small dam.  It was obvious the rocks would not make a suitable dam.  However, it did slow the flow of the water somewhat, and I could see it would maybe rise some inches.  At the moment for the baptismal service, my friend indicated to me that those being baptized would like for me to do it.  Again, it was the thrill to them that an American was there.

I was more than happy to respond, but I still did not see how it would be possible.  I was thinking that the brethren who sprinkle might have something of convenience going for them!  I took off my shoes, rolled up my pants and walked into the stream.  As I did, the first lady came forward.  She had obviously witnessed a baptism in this stream.  She simply laid down prostrate in the stream.  The water was not deep enough to cover her body.  “How do I get her totally wet,” I was asking myself.

As the water flowing in the stream would hit her shoulders, it would begin to flood across her body.  I stooped down and began with my hand to cause the water to splash across her.  I scooped water with my hand and sent it flowing across her face.  Realizing that she would slowly be wet all over, I spoke the words of baptism and slowly lifted her to a sitting position.  Everyone clapped, and she rose and exited the stream.  The next person, a young man, followed the pattern of prostrating himself in the stream.  I proceeded to follow the pattern of the previous baptism.

Now, did that count?  In that stream where the water perhaps finally reached some 10 inches, were they scripturally immersed?  All that matters for me was the purpose and meaning of the baptism experience to confirm their relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no ritual required to bring forth the faith relationship they had with the Lord. 

Let us focus on the relationship.  It is the requirement for heaven . . . not the mode of baptism!

 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  (Ephesians 4:5)

Lawson

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