On Wednesday we focused our visits on one extended family (going into four separate homes belonging to siblings and cousins). While we were pleased to see that there have been some improvements to their living conditions, we were reminded of how difficult life is in Armenia, even under “better” circumstances (relatively speaking). We had opportunities to console those mourning the recent death of a loved one, counsel those seeking advice about life choices, answer questions about the Bible, and even help someone purchase a new mattress (their old one’s metal springs were sticking out and causing injury).
Thursday was the big, big, baptism day! About 45 of us (including children) gathered in a beautiful and spacious home in Sargsashen we rented for the afternoon. We served refreshments and gave everyone a chance to visit before Pastor Joseph addressed the group and reminded everyone of the significance of baptism—the public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Afterward, we moved on to the pool house farther back on the property. Once the baptismal candidates (19 of them!) had changed into their white gowns, Pastor Joseph and Arayik invited them one by one—beginning with Emmi, who helped us organize the event—into the water to be baptized. Each one confirmed their commitment to live for Christ before entering the water.
To watch the baptismal service click here. (Baptismal video courtesy of Mariam Hajian.)
A few of us observed later that out of all the baptismal services we’ve had in Armenia over the years, there was something special about this one. It’s hard to explain but we’ll try: Not only was the venue conducive to an extended time of warm fellowship, not only was the number one of the largest (with the ages ranging from 10 to 70-ish), but the sincerity, solemnity, and joy with which each person stepped into the pool were almost palpable, and the stories behind each person’s decision to be baptized were moving.
After the baptisms, we returned to the house for communion and another prayer before dismissing everyone. We took care of a few errands, had a bite to eat, and then returned to the hotel feeling blessed and happy.
Five more days—and still lots to do!