The Scriptures teach us that we are one in the Lord Jesus and the faith into which we were baptized. But each of us walks a different and unique road as we follow the call of God into His Kingdom. Three men have recently been baptized here on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. And each one walked a unique pathway to reach the Lord Jesus and the waters of baptism.
Alman Hare and I met at a Gospel tent meeting held last summer near Cass Lake. As we visited, Alman explained to me that he had recently been released from prison where he had turned to God for the first time in his life. “I want to go the right way, but I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to do,” Alman explained. I offered to meet with Alman at his house and read God’s Word together so that he could get to know God and His plan for us. Alman jumped at the chance and thus began a process that lasted several months. We met to go through the Scriptures together from Adam to Moses and then the life of Jesus. And on a clear October night, Alman was baptized in the hot tub on the back porch of one of my friends homes. (Alman had said, “I want to go all the way under the water!”) When I was talking to Alman a couple weeks after his baptism, he said to me, “I really feel different since being baptized...sometimes it seems like I’m actually breathing different air.”
Joe lost one of his best friends to a death that resulted from complications of alcoholism last summer. As a result I ended up meeting with him in his house to go through the Scriptures. Joe himself suffered from acute anxiety that had limited his social and vocational life. We also met regularly to go through God’s Word starting with the seven men in Genesis and Exodus and then going through the four main parts of Jesus’ life: His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. When I came to see Joe a few weeks ago, he asked me, “Can you baptize me today?” And so I did. After he was baptized and prayed from his heart, I asked him, “How does that feel?”
“It feels like a load has been lifted off me!” Joe replied.
In the next few visits, I gave Joe some teaching about reading God’s Word himself. He got started and later told me, “I usually read something from the Book every day. If I do miss, I try to read twice the next day!
Jerry moved to the Bemidji area about one year ago. He and his girlfriend, Mara, were looking to resume taking care of Mara’s three children who had been living with their grandpa for five years. They expressed the need for some help knowing how to parent and I went to see them. I explained how there are lots of ideas about good parenting, but they will only work if we have the power to carry them out—power that only comes from God. So I offered to meet with them for two things: to talk about parenting, and to go through God’s Word to learn to know Him and what He’s done for us.
Thus began our process of going through the Scriptures, a process that would take about seven months. Two weeks ago, Jerry asked if he could be baptized. We held the baptism at my family’s home. Jerry’s mother and girlfriend were there to witness his baptism. After having the baptism and a time of prayer for Jerry, we all sat around the table and celebrated with pie! There was lots of good conversation and laughs. At one point Jerry got a big smile and said, “I feel so alive! I’ve told Mark that I’ve felt kind of nervous about the thought of ever going into a church. But I don’t feel that way any more, I feel like I could go anywhere! I just feel so alive.”