This past Sunday was such a good day! There were 73 people baptized in front of hundreds of cheering onlookers on one of those perfect Florida days.
While I have some knowledge of many of the folks who were baptized, I had the closest view of my youngest son, Aschalew, as he walked through the process of making the decision and anticipated his baptism in the days leading up to it.
For Aschalew, boldness is what characterized this journey. A year ago, he insisted that I tell him all about communion when he saw the worship band serving and receiving communion to and from each other in the green room before a service. So, during service, we went upstairs above the Sanctuary and had the conversation that led him to give his life to Jesus. Directly following that conversation, we went back downstairs and he took communion for the first time. Then this past Easter, during the baptism video that was played across campuses, he leaned over to me and announced that he wanted to get baptized.
The Sunday before his baptism, Aschalew and I sat in on the volunteer meeting that happens every week before Surge. Aschalew was sitting next to our Student Ministries Minister, Cody, and leaned over to me and eagerly asked if he should tell Cody he was getting baptized. I, of course said yes, and for the rest of the week Aschalew made it his job to tell everyone the news!
At Beach Baptism, when I announced from the stage that those getting baptized should start making their way down to the water, Aschalew insisted on doing this on his own. He was happy that Brandy and I would visit him while he waited in line, but was clear that he wanted to do this himself. It was his decision and he wanted us to be there, but he didn't need us to help him.
To my great satisfaction, Aschalew also decided that he didn't need me to baptize him. He would walk out into the water on his own. I also really enjoyed seeing the concern on Zach and OJ's faces as they realized they might be robbing me of the chance to baptize my son! Aschalew assured them that it was OK.
I’m so thankful that Brandy and I had the privilege of seeing our son's sincerity as we stood together on the shore. We could see the intentionality in his answers. And as a parent and a leader in this community, my hope is that anyone who gets baptized does so with the same resolve. I love that Aschalew owned the decision and that he will look back knowing this was a decision he made out of the overflow of what God is doing in his heart. I love that my son felt the full support of his family— Brandy and I, and his five brothers and sisters— but that he also realized his church family is so much bigger. I love that the story of his faith has been fed in one way or another in every part of Summit.
Thank you for being a part of my son’s church family, his life, and of every other story that was told in the obedience of all those baptized this past Sunday. I am grateful for all that this church is to my family and for the ways that so many of you play a role in setting the stage for everyone to step boldly into a personal relationship with their Creator.