A Step and a Statement
Usually baptisms at Summit go hand-in-hand with saltwater in your hair, sun in your eyes, and sand in between your toes. They are far from bleak and gloomy and definitely do not involve umbrellas (except for the occasional beach umbrella).
However, as rain threatened the planned Sunday, baptisms were moved from the beautiful beach to inside the Herndon Campus. The sky turned bleak and gloomy, but the day did not. Thirty-six members of the Summit family took a step forward in their relationship with God and declared themselves forgiven and washed away of their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice.
This sweet and memorable day was one Austin Roessel eagerly anticipated.
Prior to taking this step, by late high school and early college age, Austin had stepped away from the faith his mother told him of as he grew up. “I guess I just didn’t think twice about it,” Austin says. Eventually, he found he was in a rough place, and he began searching for answers. He started praying again. He prayed asking God if he’s really there and if he’s really listening.
“It developed into, like, I’m talking to someone that I know,” Austin explains. God used Austin’s prayers to pick him up piece by piece. He noticed his lifestyle turning around the closer and closer he drew toward God. And yet, he says that he stumbled through an internal struggle between the grace he experienced and the guilt onto which he held. “I felt like I had abandoned the church,” he recalls.
But his now-fiancée, Michelle, brought him to Summit, and here he found welcoming reassurance in the message that God will always love him and will always have open arms. “I never heard words of condemnation,” Austin remembers. “This is where I am now and he has a plan for me from here on out.”
“God put me through all that stuff for a reason,” Austin reflects. Eventually, he realized baptism was his next step.
“When I first decided, I think I was, like, a little hesitant and I guess a little scared,” Austin says. But he also says that it was time for him to claim to the world that he accepts Jesus, which is what baptism is all about. “There’s nothing wrong with proclaiming it and I wanted people to know.” He says that he was glad his family was there too. It was important to him because he wanted them to see how much he loves Christ and the community he found at church.
And in that moment in the water, surrounded by his family and cheers of gladness, all he felt was joy. “I just felt elated and it was so exciting coming up from the water. And it just felt different afterwards,” he says. “Yeah, it was just incredible.”
While talking with Austin, I notice it is clear to him that a relationship with God doesn’t end with baptism. It’s a step—granted, an important step—into further connection and intentional movement toward Christ and others.
“I’ve been learning to try to incorporate Christ into more of my conversations with people,” Austin says, affirming this importance of a continuing relationship. He wants “to allow that light [God] puts inside me to shine as bright as it can.” And one way of doing this is sharing his story of how he realized, “No matter what you’ve done, or what you’ve said, or what you’ve believed in the past, you can always trust in Christ.”
There is also an overwhelming sense of thankfulness from Austin as he talks about this light from God. It is a thankfulness that I can see comes from a place of humility. He explains, “I feel like sometimes I don’t deserve the things that happened to me, and I feel like praying about it. And just, like, giving so much praise to God about it.” He is especially thankful for Michelle, saying, “I really feel like she is God’s gift to me.” (How sweet is that?!)
“It creates such an ease of mind to know that God is there,” Austin says. “It’s important to be able to proclaim, to make a statement, and just say yes—I accept Christ as my savior.” And to those considering if baptism is next as they navigate their own paths, Austin encourages to “let go of everything and put it into Christ’s hands.”
Our spring Beach Baptism is coming up on Sunday, May 5th! If you feel like baptism is your next step in your relationship with Jesus, register to be baptized here. As your church family, we would love to cheer you on!