Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4 WEB)
I love to see new believers make their faith public. To be baptized in the baptistery at church is one thing. Being baptized at a public beach, on a hot day, with hundreds watching, . . . that is a public statement of faith.
This was the place for our Vienna church baptisms. One Sunday I had the privilege of baptizing ten believers from Iran. The day started with our regular worship service. Then we all headed to the park at the Old Danube.
There we had plenty of food and a great time of conversation. When everyone was fed we gathered around with the candidates to one side.
The candidates previously shared their testimonies in church over the last few weeks. Now it was time for me to ask a few public questions before we headed to the water.
My first question is something like, “Do you turn away from Satan and . . ?” I asked the question. The translator converted it into Farsi. The candidates looked at me. As a group they said, “NO!” They were very adamant. I was confused! I looked at them. They looked at me. I confirmed with the translator that they all said, “no.”
Interesting, I thought,, not the response I was expecting from new believers. I asked the translator again and received the same response. Then I had a thought, one little word may have been lost in translation. The word, “away.” I asked the translator to pose the question once more, “Do you turn AWAY from Satan . . . ?” I emphasized the word “away” and I explained to the translator it meant to no longer seek or follow but to change. He thought about it, confirmed it was a negative and then translated again.
This time they all responded with a hearty, “YES!” Much better! I asked more questions about faith in Christ, walking a faithful life, and others. All received unanimous and hearty affirmations.
When we, as elders, were assured of their responses they sang a song in their language of faith. People from around the park were already gathering about to see what was happening.
We headed down to the water with a myriad of sun seeking curious bystanders watching our every move. From the land, from boats, from the water people watched to see this public declaration of faith. Some understood, some chuckled, but those whose lives were changed forever rejoiced and the church with them.
I like words and sometimes it’s hard to realize how one small word, one little two-syllable word, can create confusion and misunderstanding. I need to be sure I’m careful with all my words, even the small ones, when sharing about God’s grace and salvation. As christians we need to be mindful of our selected words. The last thing we want is confusion when it comes to salvation.