New Life in Antofagasta: Our first Baptisms
I knew as soon as I woke up that today was going to be a great day, not just because it was a hot summer day, or that we were going to the beach, but because I knew that God was going to change lives today. Luckily we had planned for the baptisms to be a little bit later in the afternoon, because everyone showed up an hour early! Lane & I stayed behind to help Bárbara and any stragglers that were late because the place we chose was outside of the city. We ended up leaving quite a bit later than everyone else, and we were joined by Giovanny one of our contacts from the house of prayer.
By the time we arrived at the yellow beach, the kids were running around and playing in the sand, parents were setting up their sun umbrellas, and Alyson was setting up the table for food and snacks. It was great to see everyone together, people from the church, families who have one member who attends the house of prayer, and our leaders in formation helping set things up. It was about 5:00 when we finally got the ceremony moving, we started with an opening prayer followed by a time of praise and worship led by Leah and Camila. We had 6 people in total be baptized: Daniel Calle, Ferley Cork, Giovanny Sandoval, Lucrecia Bartolomé, Seba Rivas, and Wendy Torrico. The actual baptism was pretty short, each one of the 6 persons was accompanied by a 40/40 and Pastor Angelo, each one done in quick succession with bouts of applause and hugs of congratulations. After each one had been baptized, Pastor closed with a small word from Matthew and a group prayer.
It was lovely spending time with those who are active and inactive with the church, because we could see the impact of having a family style time as a church on each person; people opening up, openingly sharing stories, and lots of smiles. With all the food out, sunscreen on, and beach towels out, we shared an afternoon of celebration on the beach, swimming in giant surf sized waves and enjoying a game of volleyball in the sand. It is safe to say that even though not all were baptized, being able to share a moment like this brought our church closer together, a bigger sense of community and union.
One of those who was baptized was Giovanny, born and raised in Colombia, just moving to Antofagasta about a year and a half ago, and currently lives with his mother and her boyfriend. He had been attending another church with Marcos and his family, so when he was invited by Marcos back in September, he took part in our house of prayer for about 2 months before coming to a Sunday service but since then has become more active in the church. It has been great to see his personal changes little by little over the past months, from when he first showed up to where he is at now. He says that we are his second family, never having been baptized before was excited to do so, seeing others who have previously attended the Encounter left him motivated, he spoke up about going to the Encounter in March, and how he couldn´t wait to go. We have high hopes that God will his life in the Encounter.
Another one who was baptized was a contact of Camila and Leah, who wrote about her: “Meet Lucrecia. She's a fighter, witty, driven and has huge desire to know the Lord more. When I met her 4 months ago at the park, she was broken, alone and without hope. Seeing her growth is awesome, and such a testament of the faithfulness and love of Jesus. She's got a bright future and her baptism was just the beginning.” Each one of those who was baptized has a story similar to Lucrecia, and now each one is on a path of redemption, hope, and new life.
MEET THE AUTHOR Maia Reynolds is a 40/40 Church Planter for the project in Antofagasta, Chile. Along with the rest of her team, she has been working in Antofagasta for a little over a year. You can read more about Maia and her work with Extreme here.