On Sunday, December 18, we had the privilege of baptizing six new members of our church, six new servants of God’s kingdom. Before the baptisms, each person shared a short testimony of why they wanted to be baptized. It was awe-inspiring to see how God has brought six very different people on six unique journeys to the same place at the same time.
Marcelo shared first. He laughed as he explained that he was forced to go to his first Encounter retreat by his wife and the pastors. He gave his life to Christ in that first Encounter. Two months later, he attended another as a leader and experienced the tangible presence of God for the first time. Since then, he can’t stop worshiping. On the bus, at work, at home, he loves singing praises to his Savior and feels closest to God when he expresses his adoration of Him. The Holy Spirit has been repairing his spirit in many ways, and he wants to be baptized to show his love for God and God’s sacrifice for him.
Lucas moved to Córdoba a few months ago. A friend invited him to church, and he began attending the youth and Sunday services regularly. The first big change in his life came from just spending time with Christians his age (like the 40/40 missionaries). His habits and attitudes changed as God began peeling off the person he was to reveal the creation he is. When he attended an Encounter retreat, God opened his eyes to see the work He had been doing. Lucas realized that he is not alone on the journey of his life, that God is always present as protector and counselor, and also as transformer of our hearts.
Stephanie has a long and complicated story of how God has taken her from a dark place of rejection and loneliness to the vibrant person she is today. She started by saying she has been a Christian for twelve years, but corrected herself and clarified that she has attended church for twelve years. She didn’t grow or absorb anything God was trying to teach her. Since fully surrendering her life to God, she has marked the difference between attending church and being a Christian. Before each baptism, Pastor Junior asked the candidate a series of questions to confirm their faith. The last question was if they were committed to serving in God’s kingdom. This question struck a chord in Stephanie. She is no longer a static figure in the church. She is a disciple maker.
Jorge also cited the Encounter as a turning point in his life. He loves being at the church and being with his church family, but attending the Encounter was the push he needed to grow closer to his Heavenly Father. Learning more about God’s word and God’s character has brought a new joy to Jorge’s life. Being made new doesn’t come without its challenges. Getting baptized, for Jorge, is a promise to continue seeking God. After the excitement of justification comes an active and evolving relationship with God in which we are pushed and pulled to be who we were created to be. Through the victories and the struggles, Jorge is committed to his God.
Luca has been a believer in God longer than he can remember. He attended an Encounter retreat shortly after his sixteenth birthday. Since then, he says he feels a need to serve God. He has done so faithfully at youth group, in the worship team, and evangelism events. After almost a year, I think this was the first time I have seen him with a microphone in his hand. In a family of six, it can be easy to disappear behind the ones who enjoy talking. I was so proud when he spoke with conviction, “My life is His.” I turned around and saw his oldest sister sobbing in the corner as she watched her two youngest siblings declare their personal faith.
Carli, the youngest of the Barrera family, didn’t share a testimony, but her love for God shines out of every pore in her body. She is always eagerly attentive in her Sunday school class to learn the Bible stories and apply the lessons in her life. Carli and Luca’s grandmother came to our church for the first time witness their baptisms. Each of the six people who were baptized is part of a larger family and circle of influence. Each is a new light in a dark world.