Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Word Was Out
By Johnna Stein
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My feet could not move me forward quickly enough. I struggled to keep pace with the crowd. Before I knew it, the hour long hike to the riverside was behind me and I had arrived. I ducked under shoulders to catch a glimpse of the happening. My brain could barely comprehend what my eyes were witnessing. One by one men and women alike slowly advanced toward the strange man standing knee deep in our river. As the first woman stood before him, he gently placed his hand on her head and I saw his lips moving, though I could not draw close enough to hear his words. She responded with a quiet nod. He then moved beside the woman, cupped his hand around the back of her head, laid his other hand on her chest and deliberately dipped her under the muddy water. She arose with a gasp and a cry of joy. She seemed unhindered by her soaking garments as she was enthusiastically received into her awaiting friends’ arms.
The crowd grew as I observed those ahead of me take their turn being submersed. I was slowly being propelled forward toward the river’s edge due to the pressing group. I didn’t want to resist and felt an excitement at the mere thought that I too might meet the godly man in the water. I now could hear what he said to those anxiously awaiting. With quite some authority, he challenged each of us to leave behind our sinful ways and receive new life in God.
I became mesmerized by each person who went before me. My heart was thundering in my chest as I realized I was third in line. I knew in every fiber of my being that this was the right thing to do. As I timidly approached this amazing man, my hands trembled, but my heart was open and expectant. He placed his palm gently on my head and asked me if I was willing to leave behind my old ways and if I would follow God and trust in Him. I nodded quietly in agreement and he slowly lowered me under the surface of the water. As I rose, I felt as if scales had been removed from my entire body. I felt renewed, refreshed and electric currents seemed to undulate through my limbs. The exhilaration was unsurpassed; I now completely understood the woman’s shout of joy. I wanted to share this with the whole world; everyone needed to come meet this man of God. As I reached the shore, I was overwhelmed with elation as I ran into my cousin’s arms. We both now shared a unique bond and immediately wanted to share it with the rest of our family.
As we turned arm in arm to head towards home, the crowd parted to allow a newcomer to pass through towards the river. He walked up to the edge and bent down to take off his brown leather sandals. He bowed his head and humbly walked into the water. Both men stood across from one another, heads bowed, lips moving. From our position it was impossible to understand their dialogue. Again the same scene repeated itself as the strange man lowered the other under the muddy surface. I was almost certain I saw tears stream down the cheek of the strange man. As the man who had worn the brown sandals came up out of the water, the whole sky seemed to open up like a big picture window. White light beamed from above and the most amazing dovelike figure seemed to descend over his head. Thunder resounded and again electric currents raced though my body. Word was out.
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