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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: There's More Than One Way to use a Canteen
By Nancy Jo Wilson


It was hot, searingly hot, bone-crushingly, steal-your-breath hot. As a Florida boy, Patrick thought he knew hot. But the muggy heat of home couldn't compare to this Middle Eastern oven. He wondered if his end would be in this desert. For four days, he and his unit had been stuck at this staging area waiting for follow-up orders. Uncertainty and boredom made everyone edgy.

Patrick joined a makeshift bible study; six guys sprawled under the only available shade, discussing memorized scriptures. Thumper was the one currently talking. He had led Patrick to the Lord and was the unofficial group leader. Thumper was short for "Bible Thumper," a nickname intended to mock, but borne with pride.

Normally Patrick listened, trying to absorb as much as he could. He was amazed at how easily the Word rolled off the lips of these guys. He didn't think he'd ever know so much about the Bible. But today, he had something on his mind. "Umm, I've been thinking," he interrupted. "What about baptism? I've been saved for almost three weeks and I've been reading; aren't I supposed to be baptized? We don't know where we're going and we don't know if we'll come back. I want to be baptized if I'm supposed to be."

Everyone looked to Thumper. He was quiet a moment, then asked, "Do you know what baptism is?"

"I know Jesus did it."

"That's a good place to start. We follow His example when we're baptized. It says in Matthew that He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. But do you know what it is?"

"Not really, I just know that I'm supposed to do it."

Nate piped in, "Never do anything you don't understand. Then it's just stupid ritual. We're saved by Grace not action."

"Exactly," added Thumper. "You are saved whether you're baptized or not. So if you're worried on that score, don't be. Baptism is the public show of what happened to you inside when you prayed that prayer. You're showing everyone that you've turned from sin and to Jesus. We're doing what Jesus did. When you go under the water, it's like you're burying your sins. When you come up it's like when Christ rose again. You're a new creature."

"So I have to go under water?" Patrick asked.

"Well, that's the guideline," Nate said. "They have pits dug for that back at the base, but we can't do that here. You can wait or we can figure out something else."

"That would be okay?"

"Sure, we're not under the Law anymore."

"It's up to you." Thumper finished.

"I still want to be baptized."

The group brainstormed for a few minutes trying to figure out the best solution. Thumper's eyes fell on his canteen and he exclaimed, "I've got it. We can use our canteens."

The group agreed and, without debate, decided that Thumper should do the honors.

"Should I kneel?" Patrick asked.

"well, you're taller than me. I can't reach your head if you're standing!"

Patrick went to his knees and the group gathered around him. "Lord, please bless what we're doing here and bless Patrick as he says publicly He is yours," Thumper prayed.

"Amen," said the soldiers.

Thumper twisted the cap and upturned a full canteen over Patrick's head. Water gushed out and rolled down his cheeks and over his ears. This process was repeated two more times, water dripping from his hair and running down the shoulders of his uniform. "As Jesus said to do, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

"Yeah," screamed the men as they picked up Patrick, soggy fatigues and all. They smiled and slapped him on the back, saying "Welcome to the family, brother."

Nate ran to get Patrick a towel, but returned with a solemn face. "We've got orders," he said. "Breifing at 1100."

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This article has been read 699 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 10/25/07
Great description AND dialog - I was on the edge of my seat, and very engaged, from beginning to end. That last line really hit me too.
Debbie Wistrom10/25/07
The title made me think of church camp, so I'm glad you drew me to a soldier's story instead.
Jan Ackerson 10/25/07
Wonderful title, great first sentence, and the whole story maintained that high level of excellence.
Elizabeth Ingersoll10/26/07
I felt like I was there. Nice job.
Seema Bagai 10/27/07
Wonderful story. Engaging and realistic. Keep on writing.
Paula Titus 10/29/07
I felt like I was there and knew the characters! Great story.
Cassie Memmer10/30/07
Nice story! I'm sure there are many such stories and moments going on over there. Keep up the good writing!
Christine Rhee10/30/07
You did a great job drawing pictures with your words. A family friend leaves on an 18 month tour to Iraq next week so this caused tears to well up too. Please keep him in your prayers--his name is Eric.
Sheri Gordon11/01/07
Congratulations on your EC. This is a very moving story -- I want to know what happens to them next. Nice job with the topic.
Mo 11/01/07
Great job; I'd like to hear more of this, too! Congrats on your EC!
Laury Hubrich 11/01/07
Congratulations on your 2nd place! Great writing!