International Ministries

Yes, I’m Ready

March 9, 2011 Journal
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It was a grey, overcast day last December.   We had gathered all 90 New Life Center residents, 40 NLC university scholarship students, 19 NLC staff and volunteers, and a dozen activity leaders and dynamic speakers at a camp near the little town of Wiang Pa Pao, 90 minutes from Chiang Mai. The camp was going wonderfully. The girls played sports games until they dropped, happy and breathless, on the grass. The compelling speaker captured the girls’ rapt attention with his delightful humor and solid Biblical teaching.   At dinner one night the girls delighted in assembling their own shish kabob skewers, and gathering around the grills strewn out across the lawn to barbeque them.
 
Then came the big day. I was glad for the cloud cover, because that meant it wouldn’t get too hot. That morning, I walked down to the edge of the pond. I moved the fishing rods, swept off the pier, and dragged the rowboat further down the shoreline. Next, I slowly lowered myself down the ladder into the dark water, wondering what my toes would find on the bottom. After slogging around in the mud for a few minutes, I found a sandy spot where the water was waist deep. I cleared away the branches, and leaves brushing against my ankles.   Satisfied that the space was ready, I went back to my room to change into my robe, and gather my notes.
 
The 21 baptismal candidates met me at the pond’s edge, and listened carefully to their instructions. I reminded them of why they had come and each one reaffirmed that she had made a decision to give her life to Jesus, had received baptismal classes and fully understood what she was doing. All of them were shining with joy and excitement, and were talking with their neighbors in giddy whispers. All except Suriya*.   Suriya hugged her knees to her chest and had big, juicy tears welling up in her eyes. So one of our NLC Bible teachers named “Bun” and I went and sat down with her. Suriya tried to tell me what she felt, but the words just stuck in her throat. So Bun spoke on her behalf. It seems that Suriya has had a lifelong fear of the water. I offered to baptize her on land with a cup of water. But Suriya said that she wanted to get into the water to show that she was surrendering herself to Jesus with full faith and trust in His protection.

In the end, we agreed on a compromise - that she would come down into the water, and I would douse her with a bucket of water so that she would get wet, but would not have to put her head under the water.  

 The rest of the campers started trickling in, and sitting in a circle on the grass. We sang some songs and I gave a short devotional message. Then I went down into the water. The Bible teacher led her students to me, one by one and presented them for baptism. I wish I could tell you the story of each and every one of these precious daughters of God. It’s such a joy to witness the remarkable transformation in their lives.
When we came to Suriya, she bravely climbed right down into the water. I could feel her little body trembling as I held her tightly with my left arm.

I whispered, “Are you sure you are ready to do this?” She looked up at my face and whispered back, “Yes, I’m ready.”
 
And so I baptized her there in that pond, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.   And I prayed that the indwelling power of God would continue to give her strength and wisdom for the journey that God has called her to. After the ceremony, Suriya came up and thanked me. I said, “You showed great courage today. I’m very proud of you. Do you feel proud of yourself that you were able to overcome your fear?” “Yes”, she nodded, and then buried her wet head in my shoulder and cried tears of joy and relief.

Suriya has joined the worship team. She heads up the student-led worship at our Chiang Mai residence. She is growing and maturing in faith, confidence and leadership abilities. I have learned from Suriya that in our journey of faith, there are sometimes moments when we are called to climb right down into the very thing that scares us the most, despite the trembling fears that threaten to consume us. Because it is there, in that place, that we discover God’s strength within us. As God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Cor 12:9)

  With Love,

-Kit

 

Thank you for your kind prayers, encouragement and financial support that enables me to participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ in northern Thailand. Your faithful partnership means so much to me.

 

kitripley@pobox.com
http://www.newlifecenterfoundation.org/

 *The name of this resident was changed to protect her confidentiality