When 2017 rolled around, Farrah Torres wanted more than a resolution. She was heartbroken from a seven-year struggle with infertility and done with a faith that felt empty. Even as she went to service every Sunday she felt alone, longing for greater connection with her Savior and a church community. Farrah says, “It was all just a routine. I was in church, but I honestly didn’t know how to allow God in; how to worship him or live his way. I was ready for more.”
Willie, Farrah’s husband, was surprised by her deciding to renew her faith because he’d been feeling the very same way. He says, “I had been wanting that, too, but had just been waiting for her to catch up. It had to come from a place of love; I didn’t want her to feel like I was pushing her.”
The couple began looking for a church where they felt more at home. Willie and Farrah had been to the Summit Waterford building in 2015 while taking a 12-week course for a state adoption that fell through. In February of 2017 they decided to try attending a service there, and right away they felt the connection they were looking for. A few weeks later, they heard announcements about the upcoming spring Beach Baptism, they wondered if it might be their next step.
Willie, who spent time in Catholic, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches during his childhood, was baptized as an infant. Farrah had also grown up in church and been baptized as an infant, and she had questions about adult baptism. Through talking to Garry Abbott (Waterford Campus Pastor), Willie and Farrah got the full picture of baptism—that it’s a public act of worship that outwardly displays what God has done inwardly to change your heart.
Farrah says, “I asked Pastor Garry the difference and he explained that my parents made that first decision for me, and now I could make the decision for myself. That was eye-opening for me. His guidance made me feel so comfortable at a time when I was nervous about leaving what I knew. I really wanted him to be a part of our baptisms.”
On April 23rd Garry baptized Farrah and Willie at Summit’s Beach Baptism. Willie describes the scene at Bethune Beach as, “a sea of people on the beach. It’s moving—overwhelmingly beautiful to see everybody there to worship God and support those getting baptized. We took the church to that place. There was music and barbecue, it felt like a big family celebration—with our Summit family. When we came up out of the water, Garry said to us, ‘These are your people, lean on them.’ I can’t wait to go back for the next beach baptism in October to support the people getting baptized.”
Since the Torres’ began attending Summit Waterford, Garry has played a big role in their journey to follow Jesus in the context of community. He says, “From the moment Willie and Farrah walked through the doors at Summit they were open to listening to what God was saying to them and responding accordingly. To see Willie and Farrah move from walking through those doors to standing in front of the Summit family boldly proclaiming their faith in Jesus through baptism was a tangible answer to prayer.”
Now that they call Summit Waterford their church home, Farrah and Willie have jumped in with both feet. Willie is part of an men’s Connect group and volunteers running tech for the worship team. And Farrah has plugged into a ladies’ Connect group and served with the children’s Base Camp ministry on Team Summer. Willie says, “Today we’re worried less about us, and giving more. If something is going on with one of the ladies or guys in our groups, we’re there to support them, as Christ supported us.”
Matthew Blahnik, a friend from Willie’s Connect group, confirms that attitude, saying, “When you're exploring a new place it can be easier to keep at a distance and hang in the background. I was so encouraged by Willie and Farrah's courage to dive right into the vision from the get-go. Willie jumped on the chance to join our men's Connect group on Saturday mornings and next thing you know I see them plugged in everywhere... Base Camp, niceSERVE, Beach Baptism, you name it. They are the real deal and I love watching them bring God glory everywhere they go.”
For Farrah, her baptism has felt like an affirmation of the new way she wants to live. “Recognizing my faults, I wanted a clean slate,” Farrah explains. “I walked into the water thinking, this is my opportunity to just wash away everything. To come out of that water new. I carry that feeling with me every day. It’s what I want to build my Christian foundation on—making that promise to God, that although it’s not going to be an easy road for me, I’m trying and I’m committed to his path.”
Part of that path has been opening themselves up to trying another adoption. At the suggestion of Garry, the couple is working through Bethany Christian Services and is about mid-way through the adoption process. Farrah says, “I truly am convinced that this was God’s purpose for us—to bring us here all along. Going through the adoption process I felt like Willie and I were going to be this isolated little couple off to the side, and that no one would be able to understand our situation. But there is such a support system at Summit. I feel more hopeful now, more trusting. We look back and know God’s hands are in the timing. He is there in the tough times, holding up his part of the commitment.”
Willie had always believed in Jesus, but hadn't made a public declaration of that faith. He feels that his baptism in April was important to his spiritual growth, as he strives to become more and more of the man God wants him to be for his family. He says, “Some days are better than others with the whole process, but that doesn’t stop us from continuing the journey to be more Christ-like. By the grace of God, we get a shot every day to be new creatures.”
If God is calling you toward being baptized, we want to stand alongside you and cheer you on in that decision. You can register to be baptized for our April 29th Beach Baptism (and find out all the details you need to know about attending Beach Baptism) right here. We're excited to spend the day celebrating with you!
Melissa Stillman is one of our most longstanding volunteer writers. She is very kind and a talented writer who has been serving on the Summit Magazine team for several years.