During our season serving a church plant in South Africa, Sweet Bridget and I heard that an elderly woman who lived high in the hills was requesting a pastoral visit. She wanted to be baptized!
While this was certainly a special request, what added even more to this scenario was the reality that this dear woman was physically disabled - unable to move her feet. Usually, our practice of baptism looks like being fully immersed under water as a picture of dying to sin and coming alive through faith in Christ (Romans 6:1-5). We often celebrate baptism publicly, surrounded by friends and family, to announce our new life in Jesus to commit to support new believers on their spiritual journey ahead.
We also recognized that Scripture uses the symbol of water being poured to depict the cleansing and forgiveness that Jesus provides, which has led some faith traditions to sprinkle with water in baptism (Ephesians 5:25-27, Hebrews 10:19-23).
Prepared with a water bottle in hand, we made the trek up to her hut.
When we arrived, she explained: “I’ve believed in Jesus, so I have been born of the Spirit, but I haven’t been water baptized! The Bible says unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom of God! I’m afraid. I don’t want to die and go to Hell."
She was referring to the words of Jesus about being born again (John 3:3-8). We were encouraged to let her know she definitely had already been born of water! In fact, every human being has been. When the water breaks and we emerge from our mothers, we are born of water.
Jesus emphasized the need to also be born supernaturally by the Spirit through faith in Him! Once we have been born again by giving our lives to Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, a next step of obedience is to be water baptized to demonstrate we are His followers (Acts 2:36-39).
The next step for this dear woman was to affirm that her faith rested in Jesus alone to save her and to bring her safely home to Himself (1 Peter 1:18-21).