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I think the first conversation I can recollect about baptism with an adult was my mom telling me there would be a way made for us younger ones that were not baptized. I think I was 11 or 12 because I was given a thin black King James New Testament and I had been reading it at night in bed. All this reading about baptism, and I didn't understand why or how or when someone would get baptized.
We sang songs at church about being washed in the blood of the lamb, so I thought baptism would wash me clean. I needed to be cleaned from all the lies I told and how mean I was to my friends. We sang about gathering at the river, and I dreaded having to go into a river in my church clothes. I was told about a "tank" in a storage room where we played as kids. I couldn't see it, but I'd heard people talk about it. That's where the preacher had baptized other people. But no one used it anymore. No one was allowed to baptize anyone else. I was scared to think about having to go into that tank.
The next conversation I can remember was with a friend's mother, at her house, in her dining room. Not sure of the age, I believe I was driving age, but could have been about 14. I'm not sure what happened to spark the topic, but she assured my friend and I that we could possibly be baptized in the rain. God could do anything, and with His power, the rain would make us clean. I asked, "So, we could be baptized and not even know it?" she assured me, God had that power. I didn't doubt that power, I knew He was powerful and I was scared to death of Him coming back at the end of time.
In 1993, I started a relationship with my best friend. He talked about baptism, wanting to be baptized so badly. I hadn't thought about it much just that I knew I should be. There was no way to be baptized in our church. My companion prayed for it daily. He prayed for a preacher to baptize him. So, I joined him in praying. We were married and then had two children.
Within a few years, I believed the same as my companion. I earnestly wanted to be baptized. There wasn't a way for us in the church we attended to be baptized. If Jesus were baptized, then I should be too. If He didn't care if people were baptized, He wouldn't have instructed them to do so.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
In 1999, this led us in our search for a church. We left in search of the "right church" with someone that that could baptize us. We went all of 750 miles away to a place called Idaho Falls for my husband's job. We searched for churches that believed in full submersion baptism, like they did in the Bible.
"Let's go there." I said, as we drove past Gethsemane Baptist. "They believe we need to be baptized." I added.
We attended Gethsemane for several months, but the preacher there would not baptize me. I was supposed to be born again, saved, and knew for sure I was going to heaven BEFORE he would allow me to be baptized. We couldn't take part in the Lord's Supper until we were baptized. “Well, I'll never believe that...no one can know that they're going to Heaven for sure." I'm doomed! The more I heard of it, the more I believed that I was saved. Jesus actually died on the cross to pay for the sins of everyone on the planet, so that meant me! I prayed with a lady at church, told my husband, "I believe I'm saved, and I don't care what you think." Wow...what a Godly example! It took me awhile to believe this for real, as I still couldn't believe that would keep me out of hell, and promise me eternity in Heaven. We kept attending until we found something more along the lines of our beliefs.
A few months later, and a much longer story, we started attending Followers of Christ in Marsing, ID. By March 2001, after my husband had been baptized there, I knew this was where I was going to be baptized.
It wasn't a hot day, but warm and sunny. Church was warm, but again, I was eight months pregnant with my daughter. The last song was called, and we all stood, I was filled with excitement that if they were going to ask for people to give their hearts to Jesus, I would be one of them. I wanted to live for Jesus for the rest of my life, and by living for Jesus, it meant I get to be baptized. Something I'd wanted for about eight years. The time had come, they gave the invitation to give them your hand, and give your heart to Jesus Christ. I smiled at my husband, and he patted my back. I walked up to the pulpit, after about two or three had already gone up. I stood up there, shaking, crying, so elated that I was going to get to be baptized, and have the pureness of what my husband had.
I believe, if I remember correctly, there were 13 baptized that afternoon. It was a beautiful day. We lined up around the water at a couple's house that had lots of property. It was private, and a natural spring, that didn't freeze over in the winter. Everyone sang a song, and watched as each person walked into the water, and was baptized by the preacher that dunked them under and rose them up again. Then, it was my turn. I was very seriously praying that God would help me feel "something". I wasn't sure what it would feel like, but I wanted some feeling.
As I stood there, chilled by the cool water, up to my chest, I bowed my head as the preacher prayed. I kept praying for God to let me feel something. I think I was more concerned about "feeling" something than anything. I don't know why. I can't remember the exact words, since I was praying in my head, but the preacher said something like "Sister Maggie, I baptize you in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost." (I think)
As I went down under the water, with my eyes closed, and brought back up, I saw a brightness. It was like I could see the sky but couldn't make anything out but light. Then, I was upright again, and so happy. I went to meet my husband at the shore and he wrapped me in a blanket.
There were more that day, and when everyone that wanted to be baptized was done, there was meeting more people, "greeting" them, as they came to greet me with a holy kiss. Now I was baptized, and COULD greet people that were also baptized.
After we left the property where the baptisms were, we went back to my cousin's for a potluck. Then, later that evening, we went back to the church for the Lord's Supper and foot washing. As tradition, every time there is baptism, there is a meeting with the supper and foot washing. I'd experienced this when my husband was baptized. It was beautiful and I wanted to partake of it so badly, but when he was baptized, I was not. I couldn't join. All I could do was sing the songs they called out as the feet were being washed.
Before the supper and foot washing, they had all that were baptized that day sit up on the pulpit. There was the laying on of hands to do before we could move forward. The giving of the Holy Spirit. As both preachers approached me, and put their hands on my head, I closed my eyes as they prayed. I just prayed for a "feeling". I wanted to feel like I'd been struck by the hand of God himself as that Holy Spirit went into me and lived inside me.
We all sat back down, and put our coats on. John 13:4: “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” If He laid aside His garment, He had taken something off. We used coats to signify a garment.
So, the preachers stood on the pulpit and blessed the bread that symbolized Jesus body. They broke the big pieces of bread that had been made earlier that afternoon and placed the pieces on a tray.
They blessed the wine after pouring it in a large stein. The Elders passed a tray of unleavened bread and we took a piece and ate it. Then came a large stein of wine. We took a sip and passed it on to the next person. After we took the supper, we removed our coat.
When everyone had partaken of the Lord's Supper, the woman gathered at the front of the building, and the men at the back of the building, as in line to have their feet washed.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Each woman, (where I was sitting and could see) would wrap a towel around themselves and drape part of it over their shoulder. One woman sitting on a bench, and one kneeled down by the pan of water. The woman kneeled would wash the feet of the woman sitting, then dry her feet with the towel. They'd both stand, greet one another, and then gird the woman that just got her feet washed with the towel, and the process would repeat until all the women had partaken of the foot washing. Sometimes, women would have to have their feet washed twice, so another could wash feet.
When the foot washing was over, service ended with a song and a prayer and we all dispersed at about 11:30 pm or later. This was about a 6 hour meeting.
It wasn't too much after this that we moved from Idaho Falls, to Nampa, ID and regularly attended this church. Nine months after moving to a place I'd thought I'd live the rest of my life, my husband moved us to WA for his job. I thought this was the end of my world, it was not a good move for me....I thought.
Little did I know, moving away from there at that time, was probably the best thing for our family's life. I believe that Jesus Christ exists outside of Marsing, ID. Something I had started to forget living in Nampa. There are believers in Christ all over this world, and I was put on a street with one of the most faithful followers of them all. She invited me to her women's group, learning the scripture of Titus 2. Wow...women teaching other women how to love their husband and children! This is totally what I need right now!
News of this did not go over well with some women in ID. But, I believed it was making me a better wife, and mother, and it was biblical. Some called these women "unbelievers" saying I was being unequally yoked. They hadn't met these women, how did they know? They looked the same as the women in ID. Long hair, wore dresses exclusively, made their own bread and clothes soap...I was saddened by their false accusations of them being unbelievers. I'd never seen a woman's bible so worn than in this small group of devoted followers of Christ!
Since then, my views of baptism have changed, and are more aligned to the Word of God. I no longer believe that it washes away your sins. Just as I was told in Idaho Falls, by the pastor at Gethsemane Baptist, it doesn't even clean between your toes. I do not believe one has to be baptized by a certain man in a certain church. I do not believe that if one is baptized it entitles them to special privileges that un-baptized people are not privy to. I would encourage any believer to be baptized, as Jesus did, but if you die knowing He forgives you of your sins, and you follow him closely, do not fear that you will be burning in Hell for eternity. God does not work that way.
Forgiveness of sin is accepting Jesus as the one and only sacrifice for the sins of the world and allowing Him to dwell in your heart, with His power, gifting you with the Holy Spirit that "saves" you from being a sinner, from the darkness of the world, having your name written in the book of life, forever in the palm of His hand, that nothing can pluck you from.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
"Thank you Lord, for opening our eyes to the truth of your word, and instilling it in our hearts to never be swayed again. In Jesus name"