Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Baptism at the beach

We spent the day in between Brethren National Youth Conference (BNYC) and Adult Conference at the beach with our youth group. Laura and I said good-bye to many of the teens and youth sponsors who were at conference from our former church in Osceola, Indiana. It was so wonderful to see them again and very meaningful to us to see how excited they were to see us again. We then headed off with our group for a great and relaxing day after a very impacting BNYC. The weather and the water temperature of the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach in Southern California were absolutely perfect. It was spiritually uplifting for me to simply watch as our youth group started their day at the beach by getting in groups of 2 or 3, holding hands, and praying for God’s safety for the day and for ministry opportunities as they spent the day at the beach.

But the real highlight came right after that time of prayer. We had some 12-15 teenagers from our group who had never followed the Lord in water baptism since they had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. One of the High School guys came up to Andy Brightbill, our Pastor of Student Ministries, and asked if it would be possible to be baptized in the ocean that day. Before long, there were all of the others who wanted to do the same thing. How can you say “No” or “You probably ought to wait” to young people who are so eager to take a step of faith? You can’t say “no.” You have to encourage and accommodate their passion and their zeal.

What a thrill it was to watch as the whole Youth Group waded out waist deep into the pacific and witnessed these steps of obedience as Andy had the privilege of baptizing each one of them. As each teen came up out of the water the rest of the group applauded and cheered as we all shared in the excitement of their steps of obedience. Realizing that the parents of these teens would most certainly want to be able to witness their child’s baptism, Andy baptized many of them again at our recent youth led communion service. I also have pictures of each one of them being baptized in the ocean that I will be sure to get to them and/or their parents. Hallelujah!! What a great morning it was.

The rest of the day was very enjoyable and relaxing, including lunch at Ruby’s on the Pier capped off by one of their famous Peanut Butter Cup Milkshakes. Our family then left the beach about 2:30 pm to start our 2.5 hour trek over toward the Palm Springs Desert area for Adult Conference. The traffic in Southern California is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It took us 5 hours to make that trip as we crawled at 10 mph along California Highway 91 east for what seemed like an eternity. The only saving grace was being able to listen to our daughter, Joy, tell us all about her very exciting and life-changing summer touring with Operation Barnabas.

There were just two casualties of the day . . . my two feet. I never go barefoot. My little tootsies are as wimpy as I am. Spending the day walking on the hot sandy beach took the top layer of skin right off my feet. I had to have my wife put some of her vanilla scented foot cream on them that night. Boy, that’s the best my feet have smelled in a long time!

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