LAKE MICHIGAN BAPTISM 2015 

Alexandra Kaye Biggins(age 8)
I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was at Spring Hill Camp. It was the third day and we were talking about having Jesus in your heart. I didn’t yet, so they talked to me and that night I did! I am ready to be baptized.

Emily Elizabeth Biggins(age 6)
I took Jesus in my heart when I was at VBS. Now I know more about Jesus and want to keep getting to know Him better, and I pray more, too. I want to show people that I love Jesus and get baptized.

Riley Patrick Biggins (age 10)
I accepted Jesus into my life when I was 6-years-old (at VBS). When I was young, I lied and was mean a lot, but now that I know Jesus, I like to pray more. I want to thank Pastor Bill and my parents for teaching me about Jesus and helping me get to know Jesus better. I am ready to be baptized.

Tara Deam
I want to be baptized to show the world that I am a follower of Jesus/God.

Noel Nicole Dickey
I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 7-years-old. My mommy prayed with me after devotionals one night before bed. Before I made Jesus my Savior, I was mean to my brother and just wanted my way all the time. But now that I want to follow God for the rest of my life, I try not to complain and be mean. My small group leader is Mr. Leaf, and he is really cool because he helps me to understand the Bible more. I would like to thank my family members for showing me what it’s like to be a child of God. I am excited to get baptized, because I want everyone to know that I love Jesus!

Nancy Dunlop
I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church and went to church everySunday, really just going through the motion because that's what was expected of me.
I have always believed in God, but did not truly feel the Holy Spirit within me until now!
I want to be baptized to show God that I accept him and want to walk the rest of my days with him, here on earth and in heaven.

Deedy Fowler
I was born into a large Catholic Family and christened as an infant. I meandered my way through life pretty much doing what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. Still I felt something was missing from my life as I had no relationship with Jesus, only head knowledge I learned in passing conversations.
I was married to the love of my life in 1982 and when our daughter was young she asked why we did not attend church like other families. Fortunately my mother and father in-law would take her to church with them and she would attendSundayschool most weeks. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I really began to experience a huge void in my life and felt I was not giving my family the best of “me” because I did not know who that was. I had a very special Sister in Christ come into my life and lead me to Jesus in October of 1996. I started attending FCOG in St Joe and visited a few others. There was one sermon I will never forget when Pastor Bob Moss was reciting the Lord’s Prayer as if it was a personal conversation between Jesus and I. I only knew this repetitious recital as part of ritual during the Catholic Mass. It brought me to tears to understand it for the first time on a very intimate level with my Lord. He loved me and had a plan for my life.
My decision to finally get baptized as an adult has been way overdue. I have the very special honor of sharing this blessing with my husband Larry. God is good and ever faithful, extending grace to even someone like me.

Larry Fowler
I first started thinking about being baptized as an adult after going to watch the one at Jean Klock beach in 2011.I really wanted to do it the last two years in the lake but driving schedule kept me from doing it. Then after going on mission trip to Paraguay earlier this year I felt that this was something important I needed to do. I also want to show my daughter the change that Jesus has made in my life.

Mark Fry
I was baptized as an infant, and when I came to know my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ while in high school, figured that was done. As I came to know Jesus, I was stubborn and kept telling myself that I was baptized. So, after many years, Jesus and others I love said, “but your baptism was not your act of obedience.” I love Jesus and want to be obedient to His will for me.

Sandy Hahn
I have always been a follower of Jesus, but I have not yet had the chance to publicly declare my faith as an adult. I was baptized as an infant, but it was not until sometime around high school that I was really able to grasp the reality of what it was that Jesus had done for me on the cross. From then on, it was a process as I began to dig deeper spiritually. My greatest influences continue to be my mom and my Godmother. Both of these women not only introduced me to a Christian life, but have continued to show what it looks like to live your life for Jesus, no matter what troubles come your way.
When asked to write this testimony, I found it very difficult to sum up my story. Fortunately, at the next service, Pastor Dave spoke about “storms.” The best way I can describe my reasoning for wanting to take the next step and be baptized is due to a “storm” in my life this year. I realized from the start that there was a strange, yet amazing, sense of peace and reassurance that Jesus was, and still is, with me in the boat throughout this storm. I guess you could say that this year removed any and all doubts…and as Pastor Dave said, we all need this “Who is this?” moment. This year I had mine. I pray that everyone at some point will experience a similar moment that shows the mysteriousness, greatness and love of Jesus Christ.

Benjamin Harlan
When I was nine I asked Jesus into my heart. He forgave me of my sins and I want to be baptized. I want to do what the Bible says and be baptized.

Cindy Jakeway
I was raised in a wonderful Christian home, andChristhas always been the center of my life. I attendedSundayschool, and later taughtSundayschool, I have been singing in Church choirs since I was about 4, since my mother was the choir director. I gave my lifeto Jesus when I was in MiddleSchool at aCrusade Meeting in Muskegon, Michigan. It changed my life. Of course things weren't perfect, I was young andstill went throughgrowing pains, but I always turned to myfaith to get me through any turmoil in my life.
I had always prayed to marry a wonderful Christian man, and God sent me one!! We have raised our three children inthe church and they have become wonderful Christian adults! I know now that I am older and feel even stronger in my Faith every year, I wanted to bebaptized. I don't remember my first one as a baby, since I was only three months old, and my parents dedicated me, and theysaid I cried andmessed my diaper...thank goodness I don't remember that day!!!
My parents werebaptizedin the River Jordan on a trip to Israel, and said what an spiritual experience it was ,so I wanted to bebaptizedin Lake Michigan because it is almost like John TheBaptist, baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan, or as close as I will ever get to that experience.Jesus is my Lord and Savior and Ifeel so blessed that I can do this as anoutward sign of my Faith, and rededicating my life to Him.

Benjamin Ian Osborn
I was a Christian ever since I was about 6-years-old. I have also grown up in a Christian household. In VBS, Pastor Bill asked if anyone would like Jesus in their heart, and I said “yes,” so I prayed, with them. I just know that I am ready to be baptized! And I really want to follow him/Jesus my whole life.

Grace Newman
I decided to be a forever friend of Jesus at Warner Camp 2014. We where carrying crosses to Mosquito Hill, after an encouraging talk by Pastor Bill.  From then on, I've been praying every night before bed, and have memorized the Father's prayer. That's how I know, it's the right time to devote my life to Jesus.

Nancy Rambow

I have always been a believer that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, but never knew the importance until I married and had children and wanted to bring them up in a Christian family. With many struggles in life, including losing my mother, father and brother, I know that it was my faith in God that got me thru it. But until this last year, facing the most difficult time in my life, was it that I truly understood the depth of how he worked in my life and how he prepared me for many of the challenges I faced. I live my life in a different way now, knowing that he has always been there with me. Each day takes on meaning, knowing his presence is there with me and that I take that special time with him each day.

Sean Ramsey
I asked Jesus Christ into my heart at the age of five. I have been praying to God almost all my life and have seen prayers answered. For the past couple of years I have drifted from my faith through and looked to possessions and substances to fill the void and slowly just started to feel more and more empty inside. I started to feel more and more empty inside. I started to shut out friends and family and was just heading down a dark and lonely path. I am ready to let go of that path and to start walking the path God wants for me. 

Bailey Rank
I have always believed in God and Jesus. I have always wanted to be baptized. The reason I want to be baptized is because I want to be a follower of Jesus and God, and I also want God and Jesus in my heart through the good and bad. That is why I want to be baptized.

Beverly Rank
I’ve had Jesus in my heart now for 40 years, but never have been baptized. Now I am going to be, along with my family. What a blessing. God is good. He’s so good to me!

Eric Rank
Growing up, my family and I attended church on a regular basis. I’ve always felt comfortable with my faith of Jesus dying on the cross for me. But, judgment of others has been a mental obstacle for me for years. The judgment came from other Christians who were friends of the family, acquaintances, and even family. They were quick to pass judgment on others and myself, using faith as a measuring stick and oftentimes holding themselves in higher regard.
I’m not perfect and I realize those individuals passing judgment weren’t either, but I’ve always believed that looking upon others around you as equals is actually easy and the right thing to do. I guess it has been a no-brainer for me so it’s been hard to understand why it happens, especially from a Christian.
Even though those experiences still hang with me I have come to a place where I realize that I’m good with my faith and those experiences have nothing to do with my relationship with Jesus.

Marie Rank
Being with God and Jesus makes me feel comfortable and happy and safe. I want Jesus to be my forever friend.

Natalie Rank
I was raised to believe in God, but wasn’t brought up going to church regularly. I began going to church more often when I met and was dating my now husband, Eric. We were married in 1994 and moved to St. Joe in 2003 where I met many people who attended First Church. Having children of our own, we wanted to have them belong to a church family and have a relationship with Christ. Since attending, I have felt a sense of peace that I didn’t have before. I feel my relationship with Jesus has grown and I would like to make an external commitment to follow Christ by being baptized. I have always wanted to be baptized, but when I was young it was because my friends were baptized. Now that I am older, I realize I want it for myself.

Roddy Ray
I was blessed to be introduced to God by my parents, who also taught me Jesus is Lord, the only son of God, and the Bible is God's holy word. I fear God and though I often fall short, I want to obey Him. Getting baptized is one way I can obey Him. I am grateful God drew me to Him and that I can talk to Jesus, that I receive so many blessings in daily life and most of all that I am saved. I will be baptized a grateful man. Finally, I hate Satan, and I suspect he hates my getting baptized. With my baptism I will proclaim I am the Lord's.

Monica Viviana Salvo
Over the last couple of years I've been felling a tug in my heart and recently that voice has gotten louder.I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I want to follow that with gettingbaptized. Having God by my side over the last year, especially, has helped me make changes and work towards a better life. I know I am not perfect and we are born sinners, but having Jesus during the work of life makes the steps of life easier and knowing that I have a home with God in heaven is an unbelievable feeling. In gettingbaptized, I am professing to those around me that I am a child of God.

Sawyer Reed Satanek
When I was in first grade, I heard about baptism. They said, “if you get baptized, you’re letting Jesus into your heart.” So, I wanted to learn more about baptism. I went to VBS and learned more about baptism. I started to think about getting baptized. In third grade, I asked my mom if I could be baptized, but she said, “you should learn about Jesus before you get baptized.” We started listening to the Bible together. After I get baptized, I will be so happy, because Jesus is my forever friend.

Raiden Spoelman
My family is Christian, but I first came to Jesus for myself at Warner Camp in 2014 and have grown stronger ever since. I realize that as a Christian, I will never be alone on this journey of life.I enjoy be active in D Groups, Warner Camp, devotions with my mom, and volunteering for VBS. I want to bebaptizedto be publicly acknowledged as a believer in Christ and to be more Christ-like in all I do.

Alyssa Swanson
Ever since I began school, I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve always gone to church and prayed. But this past year, I’ve noticed that I’ve gone to church just to “be there,” and I was praying solely for what I wanted, instead of giving thanks or asking for forgiveness. I always believed, but I never felt that I fully let go and gave everything to Him. I felt that I could deal with everything by myself, and now I realize that I can’t anymore.
In a book I’ve been reading called, “Unashamed,” it says that your body is God’s temple 2.0 and by trusting yourself more than you trust God, by self-harming and by wanting control, you are destroying his temple. I never wanted to let go of control, even though it’s best for me. I want to feel good again and I’m ready to make that promise to God.

Jaime Swanson
Growing up, I've always been a part of the church, I don't remember a time when I wasn't praising God. I accepted Christ into my life in elementary school and have furthered my faith every single year since then. Now that I'm going off to college, it's a whole new experience. I wanted to get baptized to publicly declare that I am a follower of Jesus and to make our relationship stronger. College comes with many temptations and adulthood, and I want to walk through this new chapter in life with Jesus right by my side. I don't want the stress of school and life to tear our relationship, I want to commit to living every day for Him. Getting baptized is the next step in my faith, and being 18 and becoming independent, I feel that this is the right time for me in my heart. It's time for me to declare that God is my Savior and that I want to follow Him, not just follow what my parents have done thus far. I've always had a passion of helping others as well, so this will also allow me to reach out to others at college next year and help them find Christ, and share all the good he has done in my life. I want to fully commit my life to Jesus because living with him in your heart changes your life. We all go through struggles and hard times and looking to Jesus provides peace and comfort. I'm very excited to share with everyone my new commit to being a follower of Christ, and living my life for the sole purpose of serving Him and spreading his love and word to anyone that I come across.

Trisha Treat
I was raised by an agnostic mother and a post-Lutheran father. My grandparents on my father's side took me to church when I was very young, however my grandmother was somewhat of a tyrant. She instilled God in me with a sense of fear based on her singular personal belief and opinions. Eventually I went inward and shut God out after witnessing my grandfather have a massive heart attack next to me in church. I left my faith behind for 14 years until recently. I lost myself out there over the years. I was very depressed and feeling very muchalone and bitter. I denied God completely and went into a negative mode and eventually lost faith in myself as well. After losing my grandmother early March 2015 (not a whole year after losing my grandfather), I called on a dear friend who works at first church to pray for me. I don't know what came over me. I was drowning so deep in depression that I began to question the value of my life altogether.

I met with this friend just to find peace of mind. He invited me to the GoodFridayservice at the St. Joseph campus. Ever since, I have been going every week, to the Benton heights campus. Sometimes I wish I could tell my grandparents how much this means to me and how loved I feel. I found myself relating to the word. I began to feel chills when we would pray. I began to understand, and I began to know and love myself again, and love the God that never left me after all. I have never beenbaptizedand I want to give myself back to God, for him and his discipleshave given me another chance, a new understanding and a new loving feeling and friendship that has washed over me. No counselorcould ever make me feel as loved and wanted as my Benton heights family, as God himself does. Thankyou for this opportunity. I owe Him everything.

Anna Huyen Vi
I have always grown up in a Christian home, but when I was 6, I finally understood what it meant to be saved. I didn’t want to get baptized at first because I was scared to be in front of so many people, and then later I just never prioritized getting baptized. I have finally decided to lay down my concerns and become a new creation in Christ.

Dave Walberg
I used to knowaboutGod...now, I’m getting toknow God! I was baptized before as an infant, but this baptism is my decision.

Mary Zech
I'm excited to follow Jesus' example of getting baptized, which was pleasing to God, as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and he began his ministry. I was baptized as a baby, but now that I'm an adult, I want to show the world that it's my choice to belong to God and to follow Jesus.
I've been a believer my whole life, but kept living the way I always did, not thinking about the sinful things I was doing, or allowing into my mind. But, after hearing many sermons and reading Christian books, something finally clicked , and now I desire to put away my old, sinful self and become a new person in Christ and to be a better Christian, representing Jesus well here on earth. I feel like it's something I need and want to do, and that God is laying it on my heart to do it now.

I have tried to be a better person on my own, but I believe that being baptized will help me feel renewed and remind me that I am a new person, born again in Christ, and help me feel closer to God.

EASTER BAPTISMS 2015

See more stories

TERRY BLAKE At the age of eight I was baptized and started attending parochial school. Even though we were taught about God and the Bible, I never seemed to "get it." I left the church for many years and only talked to God when I needed him. I looked to people and things to fill an empty spot in my life. After much hurt in my life, God came knocking at my door. I began to slowly open that door and developed a relationship with him and now seek him daily. I now feel I am ready to walk this journey of life with God next to me holding my hand all the way. I now know that he is the one thing I was seeking and will always be my unfailing love. I look at baptism as the next step I need to take as a testimony to my faith..

AUDREY BOUGH I have been a Christian all my life, but since I have started D-Groups and you gave us the devotionals it has been testing my faith for God. I have found out that I am a fan, not a follower. I feel not close, out of his family, not invited. Also, since I have been in 6th Sometimes I feel I’m not even in this world. My life has God in it I know, but I don't feel it, and sometimes I test it. I want to feel close to God and be in His family. I was baptized when I was a baby, but I want to say it is my choice, not my parents’ choice. -grade, I feel like I have floated away from God, and it is hard.

SHERRI DOBBINS As an infant my parents had me baptized in the Catholic church, so I have always be- lieved in God, but something was always missing. Like many, I have praised God for the many blessings he has given me, but when life got tough, I would get angry and turn away from him. This last year has been filled with sadness, regret, guilt, lost relation- ships and a deep emptiness. A dear friend convinced me that I needed nothing more than God in my life. She said, “there is nothing you can do to make him love you less!” Those words gave me hope on some of my darkest days, and the courage to visit First Church. I will never forget that day as I sat in the back of the church, almost hiding... God seemed to be speaking directly to me through Pastor Colp, as though nobody else was there. It was a very emotional and fulfilling day. I believe that baptism is just the next step and a symbol of faith that I am choosing to follow God’s plan for my life.

MAYBELL PLUS My father was the pastor of the church in Jarabacoa, Dominican Repubic, since I was 7-years-old. Through him we learned about the love of God and experienced the Christian life. I met Kevin Pluss during a missions trip in 1996. We saw each other in 1997 and 1999 and then did not see each other again. Around 2001 my father grew apart from God and so did the whole family. For many years I felt sad and lonely. I knew I needed God back in my life but wouldn't let him back in. One day I asked God to bring back to my life someone who could bring back happy memories, someone who could help me experience the Christian life again. Kevin Pluss contacted me after 11 years. We are now married, have a beautiful family, and are back in church. Being baptized is my testimony to the world about how God has changed my life. I am following his command, thanking him for rescuing me from a very dark place and for giving me the life I have always desired.

LAKE MICHIGAN BAPTISM 2014

ADULTS

GRACE MORRIS I would love to be baptized. Now this point in my life I fully understand God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have heard and read that when you go into the water, it is like dying and being buried with God and Jesus. And when you come up, it is like being born again. I have always wanted to be everlasting friends with God and Jesus. Hoping I prayed right and for everylasting friendship, and when it is time for me to walk the path of death, I hope God and Jesus will accept me. Also, our friendship will last forever with God and Jesus.

KAILEY MORRIS At this point of my life, I want to get baptized because I want to be Jesus’ and God’s everlasting friend. I want to live again with Jesus and God!

KATHY MORRIS I was baptized as a baby; I never knew a time when I didn’t believe in God or Jesus, nor not love them. I remember each of four times that I either went up to the altar or rose my hand to the prayer of “those of you who wish to accept Jesus Christ into your life…” Yet, as I grew into an adult, I always doubted my ability to be accepted into heaven just by accepting and believing in Jesus, for many churches said unless I was baptized into the water (unlike baby baptism), I would not know everlasting life. As my two daughters [stories below] have grown old enough to learn, love, and understand the meaning of God and what it means to accept Jesus Christ into their lives and live to honor Him, I also want to share in the baptism. In preparing for our baptisms, I have a better understanding of the symbolism and how the Holy Spirit can more completely enhance my life to honor Him by improving my abilities to see my spiritual gifts and pray. I look forward to being marked by ownership of God and to have my heart blessed to truly want to live and learn about God, and not to feel I need to out of fear of the consequences or due to rituals. I look forward to everlasting life with God and Jesus and with my family in Christ!

JULIE GARDNER ‐ MOORE I never was brought up in a church but I have always had the desire. Thankfully my aunt, Sue Jennings, kept trying to expose me to the Lord. I would go in and out of Sunday service as well as the amazing Just for Joy ministry. I have struggled with my mental health since I was in high school. I was a cutter, as well as, had several suicide attempts. I had my first child at 19 and spiraled into post‐partum depression. I frequented a therapist office for Prozac and counseling. I started back into Just for Joy and my life started taking a turn for the better. However, I became complacent and I let my daily life overtake my church life. I ended up stopping my Sunday and Wednesday church attendance. Over the past year I have ended up becoming addicted to narcotic pain pills and my mental health has taken a turn for the worst. I have spent time in rehab and a psychiatric hospital. I have a new diagnosis of severe depression and mood disorder, borderline personality disorder of which there is no medicine to help control this illness. I’ve turned my hope to God. Only God can save me. I’m committed to help show God’s love to my four children. Medical professionals cannot help me, only God and His almighty love and grace can help heal me. I’m devoting my life from now and eternity to God. Thank you, Sue, and thank you, Jesus, for never giving up on me. over

Sherry Kreiger At age 18 I was encouraged by my mother to get baptized. Now, at age 67, I have found that I need to be a follower of Jesus through my free will, not because my mother encouraged me. I look forward to being re-baptized as a symbol of my love for the Lord.

Linda A Nelson I was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a teenager in the church I attended, only because all of this was expected of me; I wasn’t given any options. As a young adult, I attended my husband’s church and, also, the church I was brought up in, which led to my church removing my name from their membership, since they don’t recognize other faiths. The removal from the church’s membership was done without any contact with me from anyone in the church. I felt abandoned by the church and by God. Over the years I divorced, re-married, and raised a son, six step-children, and many grandchildren, never attending any church, thinking that, if I believed in God, that was enough. I always had an empty feeling, though, and no comfort or peace. I did feel that there were times God was trying to get my attention as things happened and I felt He had a hand in the outcome. I wanted to return to church and God, but was afraid or another rejection. Then, I re-met a very special woman, Sherrill Wesner, whom I had gone to school with as a very young child. We were now working in the same place. She invited me on several Prime Time bus trips and programs, then one day asked me to go to church with her. She didn’t realize that she was a disciple of God and that she had opened the door for me to return to God. Thank you, Sherrill, for who you are and your friendship. With Pastor Bob Confer’s help, I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and have found the peace, happiness, and love that God has been trying to show me. Since then, my life has become so enriched and I have met the most warm and loving people; it like coming home. I am so excited, and I feel strongly that it’s time to re-commit and acknowledge my relationship and commitment to God through baptism. I feel so blessed; praise be to Jesus.

Cindy Casper I grew up without knowing my birth mother and was raised by an absent father--absent because he spent a lot of time drinking. Because of this, I spent a lot of time making bad decisions throughout my life. Running from the problems that I created over the last several years, has caused me and my children a lot of stress and grief. I had no hope for our futures and felt very alone. I stopped and asked God one day “Why are you doing this to me?” I instantly had this hunger and desire to find out more about something, anything, that was higher than me. Although I feel I have always believed in a God of some kind, I had no clue what that meant. I struggled for several years and still understand that there’s room for growth, but after many discussions, prayers, books and church services, he has shown me the things I have done to create my current reality. I can see the things I need to work on about myself and ways to deal with my situation instead of running away from it all. I don’t feel so alone anymore and I have some hope about our outcome in life.

I want to get baptized to show my gratitude for helping me to this point in my life and to show those around me who may be struggling that if I could come from where I came from and get to this healing phase in my life, they can, too.

Alyssa Ann Curry I have been in private Christian schools my whole life. I have studied the Bible and memorized verses, but I have always felt alone in my life. I had never asked for God in my heart, I just thought if I believed, that would be good enough. I want to be baptized again to symbolize that I completely give my life to Christ.

James Dickey I am so excited to be baptized! I grew up going to First Church as a child, but after high school I drifted away from God and stopped going to church.  But God never gave up on me.  I woke up one day, tired of trying to do things my way. Doing things my way cost me some lost time that I can’t get back and it hurt my marriage.  I had asked Jesus into my heart many times, but I didn't seem to have the staying power…till now.  I finally reached a point where I can’t deny God anymore, and I asked him to forgive me of my sins. The burdens that I carried disappeared.  I feel such a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and want to take the next step by being baptized. Praise and Glory be to God!

Irene Fiskars I was baptized as an infant in the Roman Catholic Church, and I still acknowledge the forgiveness of sins through that baptism. I feel deeply that, as my faith grows and I continue maturing and having a relationship with our Lord and Savior, I need to be obedient to His Word and Commandment to be baptized, with my own understanding of what that means and how that will help me grow further as a Christian.

I also would like to set an example for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren through, not only my many words of advice to them, but through my actions as a Christian woman.  As all of us have, I have had my many ups and downs in my lifetime, and I know with all my heart that the only thing that kept me moving forward was my relationship with the Lord.  This is a very important next step in that relationship and I praise Him for putting it on my heart to finally acknowledge our relationship through baptism.

Mitch Sluder Since I have given my life to God it has been amazing. Not all exactly easy or smooth sailing, but I have never felt so much love, peace, understanding and grace. I have my beautiful twins, Jett & Max, who are a blessing from God. I just want to be a great Christian father and husband to my wonderful wife, Carrie. From here on out, I want anything I do to be for Jesus Christ.

Dawn Valdez I was baptized at 13 because it was what I was “supposed to do.” After graduation from the church’s education system, I continued to maintain and be faithful to the church’s beliefs, but fell to the wayside and stopped attending. I felt like my entire life had been based on what my parents and church wanted for me, not what I needed/wanted for myself.  During my 20-year marriage, we attended church when it was convenient for us; we could never find a church where we belonged. Devastating life changes--death, divorce and other life-altering events—helped me to realize that I was missing a piece in my life. I had allowed myself to walk away from the One who stood by me…God.  Still, I only leaned on Him when it was convenient.

Two years ago I was finally at a good place in my life. I moved to Michigan, happy to move forward, only to be set back once again with excruciating disappointment. Then, I was brought to First Church by two amazing young women who had no idea at the time what they were doing for me. Some would say it was all coincidence—I see it as God’s hand working in my life.  It has been First Church and these two amazing young women who made me realize I am home now.  With much thought and prayer over the past nine months, I acknowledged I need Christ and a church family in my life full-time. I am getting re-baptized because I am ready to re-commit my life to Him and let his love shine through me.  I have been blessed!

Julie Gardner-Moore I never was brought up in a church but I have always had the desire. Thankfully my aunt, Sue Jennings, kept trying to expose me to the Lord. I would go in and out of Sunday service as well as the amazing Just for Joy ministry. I have struggled with my mental health since I was in high school. I was a cutter as well as had several suicide attempts. I had my first child at 19 and was spiraled into post-partum depression. I frequented a therapist office for Prozac and counseling. I started back into Just for Joy and my life started talking a turn for the better. However, I became complacent and I let my daily life over-take my church life. I ended up stopping my Sunday and Wednesday church attendance. Over the past year I have ended up becoming addicted to narcotic pain pills and my mental health has taken a turn for the worst. I have spent the past month and a half in rehab and a psychiatric hospital. I have a new diagnosis of  severe depression and mood disorder, borderline personality disorder of which there is no medicine to help control this illness. I’ve turned my hope to God. Only God can save me. I’m committed to help show God’s love to my 4 children. Medical professionals cannot help me only God and His almighty love and grace can help heal me. I’m devoting my life from now and eternity to God. Thank you Sue and thank you Jesus for never giving up on me.

Justin Alan Watkins I was raised a pastor’s grandson and a pastor’s son, so I have heard God’s Word my entire life. I’ve also spent my whole life running away from God. It feels so good to finally be at peace and no longer avoid God, but live for Him!

José  Pedroza I have felt lost on a path that was taking me nowhere. I felt that I was keeping something great from my kids, now I know that was Jesus. I want to be a model for my kids to follow and I am finding who I am in Christ. Jesus has been pursing me and I’m tired of pushing Him away. So I am choosing a new path and that path is Jesus.

Doug Hoffman On May 9th, 2014, I was given a second chance at life on this earth after suffering a heart attack that morning. I went to work like a normal day and began to have chest pains. The Lord above told me that something was not right. Since I have found First Church I have found the thing that has been missing in my life. I feel I should be baptized again since I have a new beginning on this earth.

CHILDREN’S TESTIMONIES

Sarah Jean Bartz I accepted Jesus into my life at camp when I was 7 years old. I wanted Jesus in my life so He can tell me what is right and what is wrong. I was not very nice to my sister before I accepted Him. Now I try to be nicer and make better choices. I am excited to be baptized because I want to get closer to God.

Cali Jordan Allen I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I am taking this next step and professing my faith and love for Jesus.

Zoe Price I accepted Jesus when I was 9 years-old at church camp. I know Jesus is my forever friend and I want to live my life pleasing to Him. I am excited to be baptized because I want everyone to know I am a Christian.

Andrea Hisle I believe in Jesus Christ and am ready to take another step like Jesus in baptism. At VBS I started thinking again about asking Jesus into my heart. When I was at church talking about baptism service I decided to allow Jesus into my heart forever. I would like to thank my pastor, Mr. Bill for telling me about Jesus and what he did for other people. Also I would like to thank my mom and dad for bringing me to church and talking about Jesus around me. I am excited to be baptized because I want to give me whole life over to him.

Jared Svetlev One time when I was 7, on a Saturday evening in KidZone, the lesson was about accepting Jesus to be your forever friend and that in John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one goes to the Father except through me.” I realized that I wasn’t doing everything I could do to devote my life to Jesus and decided to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and become my forever friend. I would like to thank Daniel and Joyce Teich, who were my small group leaders at the time for the help they gave to help me accept Jesus into my life.

Collin Thomas Ingwalson On the 3rd day of VBS Pastor Bill Shepard did a prayer to accept Jesus into our hearts. So I said the prayer in my head with him. My whole life I’ve been learning about Him and now I am ready to follow Him.

Alivia Abram I have attended First Church my whole life. Last year, I thought I was ready to be baptized, but after attending the baptism class, I felt I didn’t understand everything I needed to know about baptism. This year when Pastor Bill talked to us in Vacation Bible School, I knew I was ready. My heart felt warm and loved and peaceful. My tummy had butterflies and I cried when I asked Jesus to be my forever friend. I know that Jesus came to Earth to be a good role model and show us how he wants us to live. He has given me a good home to live in, food to eat, and family and friends that love me very much. That is why I wanted to be baptized and to ask Jesus to be my forever friend.

Blake Flanagan My name is Blake Flanagan and I am 10 years old. I am from a Christian family, so I grew up learning about praising God and serving Him. But it was not enough. Even though I knew about Jesus I had to have my own experience with Him. So, early this summer I attended a Christian hockey camp. And the camp director was preaching about doing something crazy for God as we do crazy things for somebody or for our favorite team… So, at that time, my craziness was surrendering myself  to God! When you surrender yourself to Jesus, you start walking with him. He is always there to encourage you and to lift you up! I came home from camp and talked to my mom and dad about my decision to follow God. I knew later in the summer our church was holding a baptism service and I wanted to be a part of it. I am choosing to be baptized to show the world my love for God and my intent to follow Him.