My 85th Birthday, Baptism,
This is a story of how being baptized on my 85th birthday changed my life and drew me nearer to my family, my friends, and my Lord.
Previously published by Barbara Brabec as a blog post in March 2022,
now expanded with photos, additional baptism content,
and a brief excerpt from Barbara's Testimony for Christ.
Do you believe in Godwinks? A Godwink is an event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention, especially when perceived as the answer to a prayer. To me, it’s also evidence of how God works in our lives. As Romans 8:28 confirms, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I’ve shared my faith in articles in the Christian Encouragement archives but haven’t yet written about the important topic of baptism. I was born again in December 1994, and for most of my life I thought I’d been baptized as a baby. It was only while studying my mother’s writings as I was writing my memoir about her that I learned my sisters and I had never been baptized as babies, something I’d always assumed but somehow never thought about discussing with Mother (a long family story that didn’t make it into my memoir).
For a long time I believed that being baptized that way was sufficient. But the person being baptized must profess their faith publicly, which of course babies can’t do.
As Jesus says in John 3:5, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
I was finally baptized by sprinkling in 2015 when I joined Knox Presbyterian Church. But I left that church in 2020 when they decided to start marrying same-sex couples. I began to search for a new church but couldn’t find one that was right for me until last June, when God miraculously led me to Cross of Christ Fellowship Baptist church five minutes from my door. (That amazing Godwink story is here.)
A few Sundays later, I knew I was exactly where God wanted me to be. By year’s end, I told the pastor I wanted to join the church and be baptized by immersion. Three drops of water on my head wasn’t the kind of baptism my soul needed now.
My church doesn’t have a baptistery, but Pastor Tom found another church that could be rented. With an available date in hand, he asked me and Caly—the college student who was also joining the church and being baptized—if March 5 would work for us. He was amazed to learn this would be my 85th birthday—a Godwink for sure!
As my friend Rita said, “How wonderful that you’re going to be spiritually reborn on your physical birth day, and on such a landmark day in your life!”
I have two younger sisters in California. Mollie was with me when I was baptized at Knox but couldn’t come this time because she was recovering from knee-joint replacement surgery. So I was elated when sister Mary said she was flying in a few days before my birthday.
We spent one morning reminiscing as we looked through a collection of letters, photos, notebooks, and other family memorabilia, all the while remembering how blessed our family has always been. We spoke with Mollie on the phone several times over the weekend to include her in our activities.
See me above in my kitchen, whiffing air scented with White Chocolate Raspberry from the birthday cake Mollie sent me as a surprise. Below, Mary and I in the congregation before the church service began, our joy evident.
Baptism Service and “My Big Plunge”
The church’s service was very special to me. Before being baptized, Caly and I gave a short testimony for how we’d come to faith and how being born anew had changed our lives. My baptism was unusual, given my bad balance, age, and girth. I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but suffice it to say that with my weight being what it is, it took two men in the water with me to lay me back underwater and then pull me back up. I went down with a big splash and came up with a joyful shout, raising my hands heavenward in thanks to God for all I’ve been given.
After sharing news of this upcoming event, I received many calls, cards, and congratulatory emails. Over the weekend, I spent joyful hours with people I loved and felt uplifted and renewed in many ways. I’m closing with the card that came with a bouquet from Linda Lewis, an author God put in my life a few years ago. Linda said she had fun playing with all the B’s related to this event. But limited in the number of characters allowed for the message, she was forced to edit for space. Below is what I consider a work of writing/editing art—and a reminder that we need to be bold in sharing our faith and the Gospel with others:
BARBARA-Bask in a Bouquet of Blooms-Be Blessed on your Beautiful 85th B-DAY & Blissful Baptism-Don’t be Bashful-tell your Brethren about Being Born again-Be Brave! Sharing beliefs Because of the Bible. Benediction, then Behave at the Banquet-BRAVO! Love, Linda
(The original blog post ended here.)
Prior to being baptized, Pastor Tom asked me three questions:
1. Are you trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins and for the fulfillment of all His promises to you, even eternal life? (“I am.”)
2. Do you renounce Satan in all his works and all his ways? (“I do.”)
3. And do you intend, with God's help, to obey Jesus’ teachings and to follow Him as your Lord? (“I do.”)
After coming out of the water and taking a moment to wipe my eyes, I raised my hands heavenward in praise to God for bringing me to this special moment in my walk with Christ. The enthusiastic round of applause with encouraging “hoots and hollers” made this one of the most memorable events of my life.
NOTE: “The waters of baptism do not save or contribute to a person's salvation. But Jesus calls those who are saved by faith through grace to be baptized. Baptism is a public profession of one's faith in Christ and a church's recognition of an individual's faith.” – Pastor Tom Schmidt
Sharing the Gospel
(Excerpt from Barbara’s short testimony at the service,
given just before being baptized.)
After I was born again in November, 1994, my life changed dramatically.
Throughout the first four years of my walk with Christ, I had a great hunger to read the Bible and bought many Christian books and tapes. I began to journal the daily lessons I was learning as a new Christian and wrote my first short testimonial, quickly becoming an evangelist. I still do this kind of Bible study and writing today, but now I’m offering my detailed testimonial on my website as a PDF download
Until I was born again, I didn’t know I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. I also didn’t understand that Jesus died on the cross carrying the weight of all the sins of mankind on his shoulders. And when He said, “It is finished,” He meant that He had fulfilled his mission by dying for our sins and suffering the pains of hell so we would never have to experience them ourselves.
One of the pastors on radio finally made it all fall into place for me when he explained that it was like bookkeeping:
Christ’s death on the cross paid for all our sins, and when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, our sins are debited to Him and his righteousness is credited to our account. And it is His righteousness—not ours—that will get us into heaven.
I know that God allows challenges and hardships in my life—and your life too—for good reasons. As Romans 8:28 confirms, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God doesn’t want us to worry about anything, asking only that we love Him, trust Him, and wait to see how He will work in our life. I can’t believe all the wondrous things God has done for me, all the small miracles I’ve had—even before I came to faith. Whatever may come in the years I have left, my faith will see me through because I believe the Bible’s teaching, and especially God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
May God bless you for reading this. Please share the link to it with others who need to hear this message.
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