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.