My wedding day occurred just one month after my college graduation. Two years later, my husband and I were settled in a suburb outside Atlanta – a nice cookie-cutter starter home complete with a garage and a dog. The church we decided to join required potential members to attend a special class. Some churches call it Membership 101, Covenant Membership Class, or the like. The session is designed to inform potential congregants of the church’s purpose, basic doctrine, and future plans. It also is designed to make sure potential congregants are true Christians.
The church required each attendee to submit a written testimony of his/her salvation. The leadership attempted to make it easy for us by providing a brief outline (1. Your life before Jesus. 2. How you accepted him as your Lord and Savior. 3. Your life after Jesus.)
I knew deep down that the day I prayed with the Vacation Bible School pastor was not the day Jesus saved me. However, I couldn’t put my finger on any particular moment in history in which Jesus struck me down and blinded me as I walked the Damascus Road. And that scared me.
I broke out in panic mode, took a few sick days, and my husband drove me home to speak with our former pastor. I explained that I was afraid for myself, my parents and my brother. He didn’t mince words. At one point he said, “The majority of the human race WILL end up in Hell.”
You gotta appreciate the honesty, I guess.
He assured me of my own salvation the best any human being could. Though I still left his office feeling worse than when I had arrived.
A few years passed and my husband and I moved and therefore needed to join a different church. Our new church did not require a membership class, however it did require us to narrate our testimony to the pastor. Slightly nervous, though not overcome with panic, I briefed the pastor on my prayer and baptism at age 11, and my re-dedication at age 17. I gave all confidence of my salvation not to the prayer at age 11, but to my re-dedication at age 17. They greeted us into the church with open arms.
Five months later, as our baby hit the four month old milestone, I hit the post-partum milestone. I couldn’t just have a simply case of the baby blues. Destiny gave me a good case of severe depression and anxiety once again. All my fears resurfaced. Though this time I seemed to focus more on my baptism.
“What if my Church of Christ friend was right? What if baptism is necessary for salvation? After all, Acts 2:38 says, ‘Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, for the forgiveness of your sins.’ Looking back, my baptism preceded my salvation. I need to get baptized again!” And I did.
Normally, in the Baptist church, baptisms are scheduled. But I wanted my baptism and I wanted it NOW! My husband planned to be out of town the following Sunday and delaying it an extra week was out of the question. I could die at any moment. Our pastor agreed to an emergency service. We invited our Bible study group, and a few other friends, one who was an elderly man named Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry had a special relationship with the young married crew. One by one, he befriended each couple and gave them his heart.
When my parents met him the night of my baptism, my mom said, “I don’t know why April is so troubled by this, she has always been a good kid.”
Mr. Perry responded, “I was always a good kid too. Good enough to bust Hell wide open.”