Following Christ despite the jellyfish
"For all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
As the sun rises over Bacolod City in the Philippines, a small group of young people gathers. They’d normally be heading for school as it’s a Tuesday. Today is different; they’re headed for the beach. Today, they’re about to make an important faith decision.
Abkasa Baptist Conference Church schedules baptisms at the same beach every six months. The majority of baptisms are made up of Compassion-assisted children, their parents and siblings. Fifteen-year-old Annie Rose has been attending the baptismal classes run by Pastor Gil. Today is an important moment in her faith journey, “I decided to follow the footsteps of the Lord by being baptised this morning. [Baptism is to] obey God’s command, to show that you are a new creature and to follow Christ,” she explains.
The rain falls heavily as they embark on the hour long drive to the beach. Daphne, a teacher at the project expresses her concern that the water will be too rough, “It could be very inconvenient … the other choice is a river but the current is too strong.” Moments from the beach, the rain stops and the sky clears – the water is still and peaceful.
The group of young people gather at the shore. Daphne, who knows this beach well warns the group to watch out for jellyfish. The water is dark, making them hard to see. However, the young people are determined to enter the sea. One-by-one Pastor Gil dips them into the water after declaring the words, “Based on your testimony that you have already received the Lord, today you will follow God in water baptism … I now baptise you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”
As each new member of Abkasa Baptist Conference Church splashes back to shore, Pastor Gil and the staff shout, “Welcome to the family!” As they run back, each is careful not to cross a jellyfish and no-one is stung.
Heavenly father, thank you that these young people stepped out in faith. Today we ask that you show us how we can actively demonstrate our faith to others around us. Amen.