Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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.
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