|Pastor Pedro & Pastor Jon with candidates for baptism|
The day dawned bright and clear for Sunday's baptisms. With the help of many hands and by God's grace, everything came together. A group of teens headed to the beach early with trash bags and made sure the area was neat and clean for our gathering. Pedro and Pastor Jon along with a few strong young men did delivery runs, transporting tables, toldos, sound equipment, chairs and anything else that might be needed. At home and in the church kitchen, food preparation was done in anticipation of our lunchtime fellowship.
|setting up and visiting prior to the service|
It was encouraging to see a great group out to celebrate this special day. We have many talented young people in the church, and two of them played guitars for a time of open-air worship. Pedro shared an evangelistic devotional with special encouragement for the five candidates to be baptized. Several of them were accompanied by unsaved family members and friends, so we pray that the seed of God's Word was planted and will bear fruit!
|Pastor Pedro leading a time of open-air worship|
|Sebastian and Alexis practicing prior to the worship service|
One scene I especially loved during the baptism was that of our deacon Jose leading the candidates to the pastors in the water. His job was to make sure they didn't slip and fall on the rocky shore, but to me it was a picture of the true "helping" ministry of a deacon. He has a huge heart for people and it was evident in his joyful and gentle manner.
|Deacon Jose accompanying a young Jose into the water|
Every person has a story. Of the five candidates, two were young people from our youth group who have been saved, discipled and grown in Christ just in the past couple of years. Another woman grew up in a different denomination in another city and has been saved for many years, but chose to take this step of baptism by immersion and wishes to join and serve in our church. Two others have attended our church fairly regularly for years but finally decided to follow Christ in this public step of obedience.
|Grace witnessed her daughter's baptism some years ago and this year it was her turn|
|the water was a bit cold! but it was a joyful ceremony nonetheless|
After the service, a team quickly went to work to create over a hundred completos and to serve those who were gathered. The great thing about baptisms at the beach is that there is plenty of room and time for fellowship and play afterwards! Our teens gathered for games and singing, the adults enjoyed time to talk and catch up, and the children cooled off in the water of the "Poza de los caballos" (which is something of a natural inlet with gentler waves.)
|a great food prep team|
|kids enjoying the beach and waves|
It felt like a lot of work in preparation for this day (late night visitation by the pastors and deacons, baptism classes, etc.) but the joy of seeing people walking in Christ's footsteps far surpasses the extra time and energy invested for this purpose. After all, this is why we are here! We are privileged and humbled to be a part of God's work in Iquique, and trust Him to continue to do great things. To God be the glory!