Baptism in Mozambique
On March 23, 1997, my husband Martin was very happy to baptize my son Joseph in the baptistry on the mission property in Maputo, Mozambique. The baptistry was a concrete box that we filled with water just outside the church. Joseph was seven, but quite intelligent and mature for his age. He was also small for his age, so in some ways he reminded me of a little drowned rat when Martin held him up, dripping with the baptismal waters, but he was a lot cuter than a rat.
He is the only one of our three who was baptized in Mozambique, Africa, and it was so different from any baptism I’ve ever seen in the US. We were outdoors, and local children and were pressing in around all sides, so excited to watch the event. There was no stage, and no safe distance between the spectators and the baptism. There we were, all smashed together, a vibrating mass of humanity, with a man and his son in the middle, and the little boy saying I want to follow God and have a new beginning. In his seven years he probably had not done much to be forgiven of, having always been a kind, sensitive child who looked after his little sister and adored his older brother, and never complained, even when his mom accidentally gave him chili powder toast instead of cinnamon toast.
Whether he was too young or not, whether we did everything right or not as we tried to raise our kids, I don’t know—I doubt it. But I do believe God’s mercy is great and that He will honor our trying. I think He will honor your trying too, because His grace is big enough to cover us all, and He knows we are made out of dirt.
Just a bunch of dirtbags trying to get by, and yet there is also something divine about humanity. We are made in the image of the divine at least, and I saw that day, dripping with water, sparkling in the African sun, one of God’s kids declaring his love for his Creator, and all of the glorious God-made people pressing in close enough to touch him, and I think that’s as it should be. We need to press in close at times, and open our eyes to the glory of God in each other, and celebrate the sacred moments when we get a chance.