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A Happy Birthday Baptism

Faith and Identity in Japan
Learning Center  »  A Happy Birthday Baptism

Celebrating as a church family
“What is happening?” asked our 4-year-old in his very high and very loud voice during a recent baptism at our partner church.
It wasn’t the time for a long theological and historical explanation about sacraments, so I (Roberta) whispered, “It’s a celebration of someone showing their love and commitment to Jesus. It’s kind of like when Daddy and I got married. We had a ceremony and celebrated with friends.”
It’s an incomplete answer, but it’s true.

Eight year process
Something else that is true: several of us blubbered as we sang Kimi Wa Ai Sareru Tame Umareta a popular song among Japanese Christians about being born to know the love of God. So many of us have gotten to see S-chan grow from a squirrely kid to a confident, cheerful young woman.
Her eight-year journey to this point includes an interest in English, regular interactions with patient Christians, walking up a big winding hill from her house to the church, helping with weekly kids English classes as an aid, regular discipleship meetings with our pastor’s wife, and lots of time with other young people at our church.
I love how many people at our church have gotten to see and be a part of her journey. I love that our boys have known her their whole lives, that Robert has spent significant time with her as a big brother (or uncle), and that we got to be a part of praying and cheering for her even though we weren’t the ones doing most of the discipleship.
It was a special day, indeed.

20 years old
In Japan, people are considered adults when they turn 20. Even though S-chan decided to follow Christ in Junior High, her mom requested that she not be baptized until she became a legal adult, which she did in July.
What a special way to celebrate entering adulthood.
We praise God for her: for her faith, courage, perseverance, and joy. We praise God for His work in her life: for being a Father to the fatherless, choosing her in His mercy, and having good works for her to do.
And we praise God for our partners: faithfully, steadily walking with her at her pace and seeking a way to honor Christ and her mom. Please pray for S-chan: that her faith would grow in good soil and that she will be salt and light in her family and community.

Baptism = big deal
I’m still surprised at how Japanese people respond to baptism. It seems that a lot of people don’t react strongly if they hear about a friend or family member identifying as Christian, but it can be a different story when they hear they want to get baptized.
Yet, words are often easier than actions. Saying “I love you” is easier than daily showing sacrificial love. The words “I’m sorry” are easier than changing habitual, hurtful behavior. Saying “I’m a Christian” doesn’t carry the same weight as participating in a ceremony that communicates you’re dead to your former self and alive with Christ.
Please join us in prayer for Japanese friends who want to follow Jesus but are hesitant to take the step of baptism.
We are so thankful for your prayers and partnership with us.

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