Although they often baptize infants, both Catholics and Lutherans call upon the believer – sometimes every year – to “remember your baptism” into a life of discipleship.
Former MWC general secretary Larry Miller learned this through the five-year process of trilateral dialogues between Mennonites, Lutherans and Catholics.
“I confessed to them with some embarrassment…that [although I was baptized as a young adult] I could not even remember exactly when it had taken place!” says Larry Miller.
We are inviting our leaders to remember their baptism. What about you? What is your baptism story?
Don’t forget to read the study guide to the report on baptism. Your responses to the questions are welcome until November 2024.
When I was baptized at a Mennonite congregation at age 20, a woman was also baptized at the same time.
During the service, she gave a powerful witness, telling her story of so much suffering, spiritual turbulence and family struggle leading up to her drastic conversion. She finally found the genuine Lord of her life.
Her testimony overwhelmed me, a young university student, still innocent, successful and easy-going in life.
Then my turn came: I was so intimidated that I could only mumble that I decided to follow Jesus just because I felt it was somehow right and natural to do so.
Reflecting on my embarrassment, I figured out later that I became Mennonite because it most clearly addressed nonconformity to the world as its core value.
Though not so dramatic, I was struggling with the casual but persistent pressure to conform to the surrounding culture in the Japanese high-context society. Anabaptist emphasis on believers’ baptism and discipleship as an alternative way of life conveyed to me a clear message that I was valued as an individual and that it was OK to be different from the majority.
—Hiro Katano, General Council delegate for Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kyogikai (Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference), Japan
My parents told me: ‘now it is time to think about baptism. You have to ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.’
We were all going to church, but that time I didn’t understand much about a personal encounter with Jesus. The pastor taught me about the Bible in a class for 10 days.
The day I was baptized was 16 November 1986. I was 20 years old. I dressed up in white clothes and was baptized by pouring in Bethel Church (a member of Bhartiya General Conference Mennonite Church).
The day before, the whole family prayed together.
On Sunday morning, I shared my testimony in front of the whole church then was baptised. Everyone came and kissed me and blessed me, so I felt really special. Then I became a member of the church.
After my baptism, I felt that I have submitted my life to someone so I have to be careful. That understanding was with me but I made mistakes. I learned slowly.
Many times, I prayed and I received answers. When I graduated, I prayed for a job where I can serve the church as well. God led me. My father advised me to take a teaching job. Many years later, I got opportunity to serve the church.
Slowly you experience growing relationship with Jesus. For me it was like that. It took me a while to fully understand what it means to surrender your life to Christ. Baptism was a day I surrendered my life, but the strong bond of relationship developed later on.
—Vikal Rao, pastor and executive secretary, Mennonite Church India