Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Rural Missouri Baptism

It's September and the creeks are nearly dry now. While other parts of the country face flooding in record amounts, we watch as Swan Creek struggles to cross the slab just down from the house.

It's Sunday, and a girl who had been considering it since Bible school this summer has finally come to a decision for Christ. There's a big dinner after services and an hour just to visit. Then we all go down to the creek. A long line of cars park on the side of a one-lane dirt road. I'm on the passenger side and have to exit the car in weeds waist high, hoping not to surprise a snake.

Picture of Swan Creek, down by my house.
It feels twenty degrees cooler in the shade, so a group forms under the sycamore trees. Some of the women have on dresses or skirts with slick blouses while others wear jeans. The men wear western shirts, and some (including my husband) are dressed in overalls. We wait a few minutes for people from neighboring churches to arrive. Soon songbooks are passed out and we have a prayer before we all sing, "Shall We Gather At The River."

The preacher says a few words, hands his cell phone and Bible to his wife, then wades with the girl to the deepest part he can find. He states the girl's full name and says, "I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I hold my breath, hoping there's enough water to fully submerge her. She goes under and comes back up a church member. She pushes back wet hair and everyone claps. They walk back to the shore and a line is formed for everyone to shake her hand.

My daughter, who is painfully shy, clings to my side, and as I take her hand to leave, I hope in my heart that the next baptism we attend might be hers. She's eight, with a strong belief in God, but hasn't yet asked Him into her heart. I smile at my husband, remembering the first day of spring when I was twelve and he and I were baptized in Swan Creek. Suddenly my worry dissolves into thankfulness that God's timing is nothing like ours and I have faith that my daughter will answer when He calls her.

Tattie Maggard is the best selling author of The Amish of Swan Creek series, where she combines her own Missouri heritage with that of the local Swiss Amish community. Her books are available for Kindle or in paperback exclusively on amazon.com.

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