On May 7, 2023, God blessed Hi-Land Christian Church with one of the most amazing services of which I have ever been a part.
It all began with the Rodriguez family, who several weeks prior began visiting, looking for a church home. After several Sundays & quite a bit of conversation about repentance and how to get saved, they informed me that they were ready to surrender to Christ and be baptized. Therefore, as I always do, I encouraged them to “invite all of your family and friends” to come and see your baptism. Their response was typical: “We don’t think anyone will probably come, except maybe a grandmother who lives over in Borger.” Then I said, “Please don’t decide for others; let them choose whether to attend or not.” And so they did. They invited relatives and friends, expecting one person. About a dozen showed, much to their amazement. Two of their very best friends, Shelby and Canyon, drove 40 mile from Stinnett, said, “We wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”
Now to part two. Shelby and Canyon, who live in Stinnett, began to attend each Sunday. On one of their very first Sundays I learned that they had been living together for 15 years, but were not married. I mentioned, “If you ever to get around to the “I dos”, I’d love to help.” I began texting them both to encourage them. They had been having that “marriage” conversation, but hadn’t followed through. In our texts during the week I asked them if they had ever honestly surrendered to Christ as their LORD & Savior; they said they had not. Shelby added that she had never been baptized and Canyon had been, but really didn’t know what he was doing. That is when I suggested, “You know, if you are truly serious about making Christ your LORD and Savior, we could do both on May 7. We could have the wedding first, a true sign of your repentance from the old way of living and then have your baptisms as your new life in Christ begins, “raised to walk in a new life.” Rom. 6:4 They both said they were ready for both.
So this past Sunday, May 7, we began our service with the wedding ceremony for Shelby and Canyon, delivering them from a life of living together as a man and woman (not what God intended) and escorting them into a life as husband and wife, exactly as God intended. At the close of this part of the service I was thrilled to announce, “I now present to you, for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Canyon Dougherty.”
Then after a few songs of praise, it was my honor to explain to the 20+ visitors present what was about to happen; what Christian baptism was all about, what it wasn’t and what it was. Then I asked Shelby and Canyon each the same question that Phillip asked the Ethiopian Eunuch: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” They each replied, “Yes.” Then as he immersed each of them under the water, my fellow elder, Marvin Carlton, said, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins.” As each arose from the water, the crowd cheered and applauded and heaven declared God’s glory.
As Shelby and Canyon changed, we completed the service. Then I announced to the whole church, “If after what you have seen and heard today, you think you still need a sermon, I don’t know what to tell you. What you have seen and heard is the sermon. Now we will have our closing prayer.”
Who knows what God will do in the lives of the 15+ who visited that day? God is always at work. Therefore, INVITE, INVITE, INVITE.