Baptisms at Tierra Nueva are momentous occasions that are celebrated by our faith community. Most of our people come out of lives deeply marked by traumas of many kinds.
Addiction, homelessness, and incarceration are often part of people’s journeys. They talk of feeling worn out with life on the streets, and describe in different ways the gentle draw of Jesus’ embracing love becoming an irresistible tug.
Normally our TN pastors try to meet up 3-4 times with each person wanting baptism. Since most all are new to faith in Jesus, these times are precious encounters where people make discoveries, embracing God’s love, and confessing and turning away from evil in precise ways.
Since people are often navigating precarious life circumstances, and chaos often ensues prior to baptism, we’ve learned we must be flexible. We seek to “get away with” each meeting, like we’re stealing from the enemy camp. This means we must seize the moment as unforeseen time slots become available for each individual, rather than counting on set meeting times.
Our baptisms themselves are often quite precarious. Last Sunday morning Lorinda called me disturbed.
“Pastor Bob, we are going to have to change our baptism site. The river bank packed with fishermen, shoulder-to-shoulder. The boat launch is jammed full of trucks with boat trailers! What are we going to do?”
I could see we indeed had a problem as there’s a huge salmon run up the Skagit River right now. I imaged fishermen being frustrated with us taking up too much of the beach, and lures even hooking our new spiritually caught “fish” in their legs.
“What were we to do at such short notice?” I wondered.
Lisa, a faith community member and our new admin person jumped into action. She called her pastor friends who run Cowboy Church in the nearby community of Bow. Soon she had it arranged to have me meet her at a farm with my trailer and load up a large metal livestock drinking trough they use for baptisms—stationed outside a horse-training arena where the church meets. We set it in our garden and Julio filled it with water- just hours before our service.
The baptisms happened at our normal worship site in the garden behind Tierra Nueva—a joyous occasion! Christina reflected on her baptism:
“I feel great! Actually I feel like I’m whole, if that makes sense. I am confident in why I exist now. Before I felt like I was just a being with no direction day after day. It’s really changed me inside.”
Then a few days later, last Wednesday, Julie showed up at Tierra Nueva. She had missed the preparation meetings for her baptism, and the service last Sunday. She saw the big livestock trough still full of water and asked Julio: “Can I still be baptized?”
Since she arrived right when we were starting our street outreach, we adjusted our plans and did a Bible study on Philip’s baptizing of the Ethiopian eunuch on the desert road in Acts 8.
Julie’s request minutes before was so much like the Ethiopian’s: “What prevents me from being baptized?”
We in turn repeated Philip’s words, addressing them to her: “If you believe with all your heart you may.”
This was the perfect segue to baptism, and our group of eight gathered around and prayed for her, led her into the baptismal renunciations and affirmations. Then Julio and I baptized her then-and-there (second picture below). After she came up from the water we prayed for her back and shoulder, and she experienced immediate healing. What a beautiful time!
We value your prayers for protection and ongoing growth for our newly baptized people: Heather, Christina and Julie.
There’s still time to sign up for one of our People’s Seminary trainings. Check them out here: http://www.peoplesseminary.org