I am a 32-year-old Christian living with acquired brain injury and low vision as a result of a car accident. I graduated from the Child, Youth and Family Program at Guelph University. My life motto is, just because I have to do something differently doesn’t mean I can’t do it!
I wanted to get baptized. I wanted for my faith community to know that my intention was to be a faithful follower of Christ. Technically speaking I was baptized when I was a baby. I appreciate my parents taking that step and making the commitment to raise me in a Christian home. However, I am now at a point in my faith journey where I understand baptism a little differently. I believe it is a step of obedience that can only be taken when you are at an age when you can understand what it means to follow Christ. The church that I am part of believes in full immersion adult baptism. It is an expression of a person’s love for and commitment to Christ: A recognition that we are broken and sinful and are in need of a Saviour. I believe this and wanted to be baptized.
There was one crucial problem; due to medical reasons I can no longer go under water! I guessed that meant baptism wasn’t really an option for me. For a long time, I decided not to pursue it because I didn’t want to make things complicated. To be honest, I’m not really sure why I thought that was a good solution. I wanted to be baptised and I now know that I should be able to, regardless of my circumstances.
I approached one of my pastors and asked if there was any way I could be baptised without going under water. Without hesitation he said that we absolutely could make it work. I had avoided requesting to be baptised because I didn’t want to be a nuisance. I didn’t want to stand out and be different. I was focusing more on what others thought than about the act of baptism. I began to realize that having my baptism look a little different could be a beautiful testimony to God. It was decided, I was going to be baptised.
I invited my friends and family. I went over the details of the service with my pastors. I began to write my testimony. I was thankful to have an opportunity to not only share my faith journey but to also explain why my baptism was going to look a little different. Instead of being fully immersed in water I had water poured over my head. I still went into the “dunk tank” as we call it and was standing in water up to my waist. After confirming that I am a sinner and in need of a Saviour, I was baptised by the pouring of water over my head. Everyone clapped in celebration and I was filled with joy.
Having my church support me by allowing my baptism to look a little different showed how much they love me. It confirmed that they value me and want me to be able to participate in all aspects of Christian life. My experience of being baptised gave me the opportunity to show my love for and dedication to Christ. It also enabled others to realize the importance of accessibility in everything, even baptism.
Thanks to Ashley for sharing her story with us. More from around the forum:
Check out the video of Greg’s Baptism. Greg says “Hello. My name is Greg Cloud. I’m 29 years old. I have red hair, blue eyes and I am right-handed. I also have an extra chromosome. I was born with all of these. Like you I was beautifully made by my God.”
Maria shares about her son Michael and his love for all water in Baptisms and Bathtubs
Read theological perspectives on baptism and intellectual disability in Question of Baptism and Understanding or “Should we baptize people with intellectual disabilities?“