Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three baptisms

It was a special weekend for our church here in Siedlce. Three believers publicly identified with Christ by following Him in baptism by immersion. In the New Testament, baptism was often a pulic statement that brought scrutiny, separation, and persecution from one's friends, family, and government. Baptism by immersion is also a dividing line here in Poland. One can draw the ire of their family by attending a Baptist church, friends and family certainly won't like a testimony of salvation in Christ alone. But to publicly be baptized, that is the line of demarcation. For Poles it is an open dismissal of the teachings of the Catholic church. It is identifying with a "cult." Its an open display of the inward change and therefore an embarrassment for the family. Ginger and I were challenged by their courage in moving forward in obedience to Scripture. You have to understand that Siedlce, though a population of over seventy thousand, has a small town feel. Most people are born, raised, married, and buried here, so everyone knows everyone else. The baptism took place at the one small lake in the town. It was nearly 90 degrees so the place was packed with people. Most of whom were wondering what that group of 50 or so people were doing on the other side of the lake. So when I say it was a public baptism, you understand the peer pressure these young Christians were facing. I have to say that the best part was when one of the men in our church took out his guitar and began to play/sing "Amazing Grace," the entire church soon joined in and they were so encouraging and supportive of these new Christians as they took this step of obedience. They came out of the water and were greeted by bearhugs from everyone.

The testimony of each of these young believers is another story. Slavek (Swa-vek) gave a testimony last week and told the church that a year ago he was a terrible alcoholic who's marriage was about to end. He met Ben Layer (our co-worker pictured above) and was saved a few months later. Jesus Christ saved His soul and his new birth has saved his marriage. He is a hungry Christian who cannot get enough of Scripture and has become a good friend of mine in the last two months. Goscia (Go-sha) is a single mom, rough past, with two children and little money. Every week she faithfully cleans the church, this was a hard step for her to publicly identify with Christ, but she did. Olah is a young girl with five sisters, her mom is a Christian who spent time in Chicago and speaks good English. Two years ago her dad was shot dead by his drunk brother (for no apparent reason). Its enough for anyone to want to give up, but her mom has them in Church every week and faithfully teaches Jr. Church. Everyone is Catholic at school, so Olah has definitely opened herself to ridicule when school begins in the fall. As you can tell by the photo, she was not ashamed. Ginger and I felt privileged as we witnessed their faith in action and it makes us all the more anxious to learn the language so we can soon communicate Christ to those around us.

Jason Stover

P.S. I have a 2 minute video clip of the baptism. If you'd like to view it, just send me your email address


Auntie96 said...

Thank you for sharing that very touching story! I have to say this one made me cry! Olah story really touched my heart, I will keep her in my prayers. I also have printed out her picture and have it in my room to remind me to pray for her and her family!

I really do have a heart for missions. I love hearing stories such as the one you told. May God bless you, and watch over your family as you continue to serve him in Poland.

ichron289 said...

That's what baptism should be! It bugs me that our churches have this safe fortress mentality and basically conduct private baptisms and miss the purpose of the ordinance. We tend to teach it as just another step of obedience, but it is a PUBLIC demonstration of our submission to Christ's lordship. Thanks guys for your faithfulness in Poland.

ichron289 said...

Hey Stover, you're a good writer. Coats & Roenicke would be proud ;). Oh yeah, (Belle says), AND Mrs. Swain. I linked to your article on my blog, if you don't mind, to show people a good example of the cost of discipleship and what baptism is supposed to represent. God bless you guys in Poland, and keep plugging away. -Bickel

The Stover Family said...

Hey Jamie--no I don't mind you linking to my blog. Don't know how to do that myself. I agree with you on baptism, we got a vivid picture of the cost of that discipleship on Sunday. As far as writing goes, I'm just trying to attain to the high writing standards Buddy Kasten established in remedial English. I hope he's proud.

Amber said...

It's awsome to see what God is doing through you and the minsistry! Brooke and I just got back from Youth Conference at Dr. Jack Schaaps church and it was awsome! They challenged us to go to the Mission Field and on missions trips and things it was awsome! I am praying for you!
Amber Ashley

The Stover Family said...


Printing out a picture to remember to pray for Olah is a great idea. Sounds like you may just have to come to Poland some day for a visit.


The last time I saw you I think you were six don't tell me you are about to go to college

Amber said...

Hate to break it to ya, but yeah this is my last year of school!! CRazy huh? I am going to Hyles Anderson for college.. I am pretty scared yet very excited! Brooke is going into ninth and Curt fifth! Everyone is growing up and getting big!! Your kids are adorable! I am glad that all is well for you and your family! Please tell your dad and mom hello for me!

Kim said...

Ben sent us the video of the baptisms! How awesome! God Bless as you continue to serve the Lord in Poland.

Kim said...

P.S. do you know if Sarah and Ben still have a blog? I lost it on my Favorites. Thanks.