So this blog isn't about me getting caught sleeping midday at our last youth camp in April. I am only slightly embarrassed about the fact that Pastor Matt took about 8 of these pictures with several of my students from school posing next to a napping me. This post is actually about the most recent youth camp, and the baptism that involved the young lady in the blue shirt.
Alison is a missionary kid whose parents work at Partners in Hope, a large HIV/AIDS clinic in town. They lived for seven years in Ecuador before coming to Malawi, at Shell (think End of the Spear, Elizabeth Elliott, Nate Saint). They're in their third year here in Malawi and Alison and her two siblings are in the high school at ABCCA. The reason why I am talking about her is that she got got baptized while we were at camp. She had been wanting to for a while, and met with our Pastor to see if she was ready to make this commitment. She was, and it was arranged that the youth worker who leads the Friday night youth group, would have the honor of baptizing Alison.
Her parents came out for the time on Saturday afternoon. We all gathered on the shore and Pastor Matt shared some words about baptism; mostly its Biblical basis and what it symbolizes. The youth worker then explained the three questions he would be asking Alison (he even had notes on his arm so as not to forget!). The two of them went out into the water, and after answering the questions in the affirmative, Alison was dipped below the water and brought back up to thunderous applause from all of us on shore.
I'll be honest, I don't cry very much. Last high school soccer game, last college soccer game, at the end of Rudy, when the dad's standing for his son during Facing the Giants(I know it's kinda' corny), oh and during my wedding when I was crying through most of it. Well, add the baptism of Alison to the short list too.
I think the significance was that we don't take vows all that often, nor do we see people do it. For the most part, it is during weddings. There is a certain amount of solemnity when we promise something to another in front of a group of people. There is a certain value to ceremony and formality, though it is not absolutely necessary to make something sacred. The importance is in the sincerity of the act, the Truth of the words, the joy that follows.
Alison's baptism was a public promise of her faith in Christ: a serious and ceremonial promise to follow Jesus as her Lord and Master forever. The reality of this profession was already solidified in her heart a long time ago, but this baptism did exactly what it was supposed to do: publicly proclaim that faith and encourage her brothers and sisters in Christ. It was special to see one of my students take this step, and also to know that the fruit in her life bears witness to her identity as a daughter of the Most High God.