Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 3: Michael and Mandy)

Well, here we are again, still on the events of last Saturday. It was such an eventful day, that I had to break up the story. Each family really does deserve its own post.

We spent the better part of Saturday at The Gem in fellowship and celebration. Then around sundown, just as I thought we were about to pack it up and head home, someone responded to John's earlier suggestion that there may be a third person in the audience who needed to put Christ on in baptism. One of the couples we have been meeting with, took that to heart.

This is Mandy:

And this is her husband Michael:

The two of them had the same idea at the same time, just minutes before these photos were taken. Dee was still with us but the rest of the gang had already gone home. Just as we were talking about what clothes everyone could change into, Emily came walking back in to say she had forgotten her camera. She saw our smiling faces and knew she was in for a treat. We called LaRae and Dave. They both came back to witness Michael and Mandy go under the water, too. With the whole group once again in place, we headed back down to the pool.

Michael and Mandy are members of The Gem, but we met them through a pet sitting business we started last year to supplement our income. Looks like God wanted us to make more than a few bucks on the deal. Now we are busy making disciples with this beautiful and dynamic group of people. Each one of them is hungry for the Word and growing at light speed. And to think we had "Africa Survey Trip" written on our calendar for this very week! No wonder that didn't pan out.

Even our kids got into the spirit of the day. They all jumped in the pool at the end of the night. Here, Ben is "baptizing" Dee's youngest:

Please continue to pray for Dave, LaRae, Dee, Emily, Mandy, and Michael--and our family as well. They are all recently baptized and now comprise the bulk of this group that meets almost daily to read the Bible, share meals, educate our children, and encourage one another to walk the Christian walk. It is truly inspiring and humbling to be a part of this ministry, full of young Christians who truly love God. Thanks to those of you who support us in any and every way.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 2: Emily)

I left you with this photo of Dee and Emily:

When I said Dee was baptized first, you may have guessed that Emily was next. She was actually in the water when Dee was baptized.

Emily has been a Zumba instructor at The Gem a bit longer than John has been the director. You may recall the rough patch we hit in November when John revamped the aerobics classes soon after assuming leadership. We wanted to ensure that all of our programming was in keeping with Christian principles, which is the crux of our new mission statement. Most people appreciated the new family-friendly Zumba classes, but others did not. What started out as a simple restructuring project quickly escalated to an all out war between and among staff and members alike. John and Emily's relationship was caught in the crossfire. She considered quitting at the same time John daily scrutinized the staff to identify the trouble makers and know who to let go. In the end, she was exonerated and continued on with her classes, which complemented the Christian atmosphere.

Emily would later join our Bible study group and Sunday church meeting. Much like Dee's story, we believe the enemy was trying to keep Emily from the truth. Saturday, she was set free by it. It was also her 31st birthday! Now she has two causes for celebration on September 6. Happy birthday and happy birthday, Beautiful Sister.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 1: Dee)

Several months ago John went to an elementary school health fair to represent The Gem. He spent the day working alongside a woman he described as "contrary" and said he was relieved when the unpleasant event was finally over. Within the next few weeks, a staff member recommended a friend for the position of nutritionist at The Gem. John agreed to interview her only to discover that the highly recommended food counselor and the cantankerous woman from the health fair were one and the same. John asked me to sit in on the interview; he was looking for a reason to not hire her. Instead, we both admitted we liked her and that he really couldn't afford to say no. 

Over the following weeks, Dee proved to be invaluable to The Gem, fitting into the staff like the missing thread in a tapestry. The employees admire her and the members love her. When she began to frequent our Bible studies, we began to suspect that the enemy had something to do with the reason she and John didn't hit it off in the beginning. After meeting with us, not only for Bible study each Thursday, but also on Sundays for church, Dee felt God was calling her to be baptized and start her life anew. Even though she has been part of a local church for years, she confessed that reading the Bible has opened her eyes to, among other things, the importance of baptism. 

Dee was the first one in the water on Saturday. As a rule, we preserve Saturday as a our family day and Sabbath and normally wouldn't even be at the gym. But Jesus says in Matthew 12:11, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?" Anyone who has not been clothed in the saving blood of Christ is certainly in that pit, and we were honored to spend the day resting in His presence and in the presence of the angels who were rejoicing as Dee was lifted out of it.

These are my friends and sisters, Dee and Emily: 

You'll read about Emily in my next post.