Getting a 'clean start'
May 25th, 2010
12:20 PM ET

My adult baptism

What was it like to go on a pilgrimage? How did it feel the first time you spoke in tongues? Where did the experience of a week-long meditation retreat take you?

The CNN Belief Blog will occasionally share the spiritual journeys of others and begins with this one from Jascinth Hall, a 26-year-old wife and mother of three who was baptized - along with 109 others - on Saturday, May 8, at Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. This is her account of the experience, in her own words.

There’s a generation of people in our churches, in all churches, that never left the church but left the church. You're there every week, you hold down a pew, but sometimes you're not even listening to the preacher.

My father’s a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, so I was raised Seventh-day Adventist. When you’re a child, you do as you’re told. But as an adult I wanted to make an independent decision of my own to be re-baptized.

It had been a long time since I'd prayed. It had been a long time since I read the Bible. But it's never too late. It's only too late when you give up on yourself.

Re-baptism is a common thing in the church. As a teenager, even as an adult, I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve sinned. I wanted to just give my life completely over to Christ again and say, “Lord I know I’ve made mistakes. But I know that you forgive me for my sins. I know that you’ll take my life and make it worth something - make it of some value.”

I hadn’t told anyone I was getting re-baptized. I wanted it to be a surprise. I'd been praying about it, and I knew it was something I needed to do just for my own soul.

When I woke that Sabbath morning, I just felt that the Lord was saying, “I can see in your heart that you're good, and this is me giving you a clean start. It may not be the end of all of your mistakes, but I'm here, and I always will be here.”

Having that feeling that you have a God that's always going to be there for you and always going to care for you and just loves you is a good feeling.

We wore nice white robes. Even though before you may have sinned, it signifies that when you come out of that water you're going to be clean. Every sin you've made in the past is gone. So even if you can't forgive yourself, it's as far as the East is from the West with the Lord.

Before you join our church, there are beliefs or foundations that we want you to understand. We [those being baptized] don't recite them, but they go over them and you agree to them in front of the congregation.

You go up to the baptismal pool. It's an indoor baptismal pool – not a big space, but it's enough space for you to get three people in and baptize side by side. It’s located behind the choir loft, and it's lifted up and seen by all.

It's like a little journey in that traveling time going up the steps. I just thought about a lot of things. My children. My husband. The choices that I’ve made. How I'm seen as a person. Who I come off as, and who I want to come off as.

I was waiting to go into the water, standing at that window, just looking out and thinking. I do hear the Lord talk to me. We do have conversations. So at that time, I was having another conversation. There was just a moment when I looked out the window and I was like, “Lord, I don't know what the next step for me is. I don't know what you want me to be in life. I'm not perfect, but if you'll have me, I'm coming back to you.”

Going in the water, it feels very tranquil, like a bath, like a warm bath. When I read the Bible, you hear about Christ baptizing in the Jordan River. You could just imagine how great that water must have felt. We don't have Jesus baptizing us, but it still feels that same way. You’ve got people who support you there at the church standing up, and they're singing, and there's music. The pastor’s got this great smile. It's almost like going into a concert and being the featured guest. It's just a great feeling to go in there, and when you go into the water it’s just like peace when you come up.

It was quick. It's probably all of maybe five or 10 seconds, but it feels like forever when you're waiting.

That experience is one of the best experiences that you can possibly go through. If it’s one time or five times, it's a great experience because every single time you go into that water you feel that pressure, or that burden of guilt, just lift and it's gone.

I felt happy – a real sense of the word happy. It's not a material thing. It’s not something that you can buy. It’s not something that you can render to somebody else. Only the Lord can give you that sense of peace and that's what happiness is, I think.

CNN’s Jessica Ravitz, who interviewed Hall, condensed and edited the transcript for length and clarity. Most of the featured photographs were taken by CNN’s Robert Johnson, who attends Hall’s church. If you want to share your own spiritual journey, tell us about it in the comments section or send us a note at journeys@cnn.com.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Journeys • Traditions

soundoff (339 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    "When I woke that Sabbath morning, I just felt that the Lord was saying, 'I can see in your heart that you're good, and this is me giving you a clean start.'"

    This is a theologically incorrect statement. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). No one is good. Romans 3:10-12 makes this clear: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

    I am saddened that you do not fully understand the depravity of mankind, because only when you understand this can you fully appreciate and find overwhelming gratefulness for the gifts of grace and mercy, purchased for you on the cross.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  2. ToolMan

    Joel3, I think you have been hanging out at the golden coral eating fried chicken mashed potatoes and some icetea. Everyone knows that the only way to build a relationship with someone is you have to get to know them first!! Come On Joel3 catchup man!!!!!

    May 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • SueK

      Everyone also knows that the first step to building a relationship with someone is that they have to exist in the real world.........oh I'm sorry, you guys actually think he does.....in a book !!

      May 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  3. MG

    Hey Pastor Byrd! Praise God for your ministry! 110?! Wow!

    May 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  4. serg

    Jay Bors

    You are correct…we cannot prove the existence of God.
    I will also ask you one question…
    You prove to me evolution.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  5. Sue

    Oh believe me, the nutjobs will come up with a million "proofs"......they should really look the word up in a dictionary though....

    May 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
    • kyle


      "Proof" is a tough word. You prove to me that God DOESN"T exist.

      "Evidence" is a much better word. Take your evidence and try to convince the next person what you believe.

      -It is evident to me that Jesus lived about 2000 years ago (Bible, Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, etc.)
      -It is evident to me that Jesus lives today in the lives of millions of changed individuals (myself personally,
      and many more whom I know)
      -It is evident to me through science that God created the world. Just look at the complexity in nature that cannot be duplicated by
      humans through science. Ask a scientist what force holds the very basis of life together (atoms, sub-atoms). Look at the second law of
      Abiogenesis and tell me how life comes from non-life.
      -It is evident to me that the Bible is historically correct. Archeology has proven many things in the Bible to be correct (previously
      thought to be in error). For instance, the Bible called Pontius Pilate a proconsul. Historians said that there was no such thing as a
      proconsul. Archeologists found a door lintel stating both Pilate's name and said he was a proconsul...just one example among many.
      -It is evident through prophecy that the Bible knows what the future holds. Just look at its track record for the things that have come to
      pass. Example: Jesus death (a historical fact written about by many extra-biblical historians) was predicted IN DETAIL by Old
      Testament writers hundreds of years before. Crucifixion was not used commonly as a form of execution when these prophecies were

      I could go on and give you more specific examples of why I believe in Jesus. Can you give me any EVIDENCE why you believe there is no God?

      It really comes down to a matter of choice. I will respect your choice you have made from the evidence you have gathered. Will you respect mine?

      May 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  6. serg

    Jay Bors

    You are correct…we cannot prove the existence of God.
    I will also ask you one question…
    You prove to me evolution.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • denco8

      I think the best challenge is.. prove to me God doesn't exist.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • LouAz

      You are your own proof of evolution. Seems many christians would like to return to the days when the earth was flat however. Similar to soccer players, who thrill in a game that gigve you a pnalty for using your hands. Evolution in reverse.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jim

      I don't think it's possible to prove anything to you. You have relinquished your rational faculties in order to accept the completely irrational but very comforting fairy tale you espouse.

      May 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Joel3

    @ Jay Bors- The EVIDENCE will come to you AFTER you take that step and say that prayer ON YOUR OWN. It will come to you depending on your own personal situation. But you have to build a relationship with Him FIRST.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  8. ToolMan

    Well, Jay the Bible does say that the fool has said in his heart their is no God. Also look outside up in the air to the moutain tops and the river valleys. There is proof all around you, now let's go to the golden coral and eat some fried chicken!!!!!!!

    May 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  9. Something

    Pascal's Wager as its commonly called is not true faith (Romans 4:18-25) and hence nobody will be saved through this fake faith.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Saved from what? "Satan", the big red boogeyman with horns, cloven hooves and a pitchfork??? You're kidding me, right? Saved by the preacher with his girlfriend (or boyfriend) on the side and his hand in the collection plate?

      PLEASE, when the lights go out, the last neuron in your brain fires, your heart beats its last, and your lungs collapse for the last time, you'll realize that there's no bright light waiting for you, just like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy...

      May 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  10. MG

    Welcome precious souls to the family of God! I will keep you in my prayers and may we one day meet on the sea of glass!

    May 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  11. Sally

    Actually Serg, you've lost a lot. You've lost time praying to a deity that doesn't exist. You've lost critical evaluation of facts and objective opinion about the many things that matter in this world. You've lost credibility with free thinking individuals. You've lost money supporting a system that has historically preyed upon the weak-minded, weak-willed, and weak in stature. Most importantly you've traded free-will for a good bedtime story. I feel sorry for you.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Laura

      Actually Sally, we are not concerned with trying to gain favor of the unbeliever as far as our God is concerned, nor our beliefs. We are prefectly happy with living for Jesus and in his way! We know it is not us that can cause anyone to come to Jesus, that has to be done by You, no one can do it for you.
      It seems more are concerned about us believing in a diety that does" not exist", but hey, we KNOW he is real! So, we are not living in grief, but in the pure love of our Father.

      October 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  12. sian rose

    I believe that being baptized has made a difference in my life. I cannot speak for other organized religions but, before being baptized in the baptist church there are a number of classes that I had to take. Prior to taking these classes I was determined to change "my ways" and be baptized. After my head was dipped I really did feel lighter physically and emotionally. In the 3+ years since I have had my trials and I have even behaved in a questionable manner but, I can honestly see a change in myself and the way I relate to others. I do not attend church every Sunday and I still fall short of Biblical aspirations but, those classes and the act of Baptism has made me more aware of my actions and by extension a better person...

    May 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • LouAz

      You felt lighter because humans float in water. Old Circus trick. Great Sise Show man that John the Baptist. Those were the days !

      May 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  13. Sue

    So, baptism takes away your responsibility to correct your sins because God will do it for you ? “Lord I know I’ve made mistakes. But I know that you forgive me for my sins. I know that you’ll take my life and make it worth something – make it of some value.” The "making it worth something" is left to God, while man can sin away to glory ! Cool deal ! Where can I get one ?
    Oh and by the way, all the Christians here cannot even make up their mind on whether Jesus baptized or not......just goes to show that your book can be easily misinterpreted. Because it was written by PEOPLE (and lots of them at that) !! Please reach a conclusion amongst yourselves before bashing atheists.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Lamonte

    "...you hear about Christ baptizing in the Jordan River. You could just imagine how great that water must have felt. We don't have Jesus baptizing us, but it still feels that same way."

    I've read of Christ be baptized in the River Jordan but not where he was "baptizing" others. Can you help me find the reference?

    May 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  15. Sharon

    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is...

    May 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • sian rose

      You summed it up wonderfully....As a child I remeber asking my aunt if she beileved there was a God. her reply was; "there is definitely a higher power. How else woudl you explain human creation and all of the things we depend on but cannot create" Her response has been a guiding light for me since!

      May 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
  16. psychodogman

    baptism is as effective for anything as putting on a New-Age bracelet.

    May 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  17. rosie

    for the people who do not believe in baptism read Matthew 28:19,20 and Marc 16:15-18 this is the great commission.
    And also read James4:6 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’"
    Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
    Verse 8. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

    May 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jessica

      So if im a humble murderer, that believes in jesus, I should be alright? Just trying to figure this all out.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • SWBeth


      What scripture is saying is that ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. We are all missing the mark. It's stating that the murderer who comes to believe that Christ is his only way to redemption is spiritually redeemed, but that the person that lives a benign life, never coming to a place of relationship with Jesus.. is not spiritually redeemed. And spiritually redeemed means to be back in relationship with God. The coolest thing about it.. is that I don't have to figure out whether or not some one is sincere. God knows a person's heart.. and knows if its a con.

      May 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Allya

    Jeremy I couldn't agree more. Just this morning a man started preaching to me in the elevator on my way to the metro. I'm a polite person so I waited for him to finish and left the elevator. My beliefs are my own and I don't care what YOUR religion says about spreading the good word. Keep it to yourself.

    May 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  19. Len

    You know, I respect others opinion but is it me or are the Christians on here acting very non-christian. Just because you can recite scripture doesn't mean you are a Christian. Forcing others to take on beliefs does not make you a Christian. If you want to know what makes Christian's non-believers, look at this forum. Going to church does not make you a Christian.

    If you want to show others what it means to be a Christian, be respectful and actually LEARN the teachings of Christ. You don't have to be a 'Christian' to take these lessons. Help your neighbor, respect your elders, etc.

    Being baptized is nothing but symbolism and most of the beliefs are hogwash made by the Catholic church during the middle ages. Think for yourself and show that you actually UNDERSTAND what it means to be Christian. If you want to make others believe, show them with actions, not words.

    May 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Talon7

      Len, that's the problem. Christians CAN'T think for themselves. They just blindly follow archaic old myths like sheep. You need to have some intelligence in order to be able to think.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Brad H

      I agree that there are a lot of things people do to call themselves "Christians". This goes for the pastors, chuch members, sunday school teachers, etc. I also agree that "christians" are some of the most judgemental groups on the planet because they are not willing to listen to anyone elses point of view. I consider myself a christian but I don't think that I kow everything or have the right to tell anyone else how to live their life. I am only worried about my own life and belief system and if asked then I will gladly share with you waht I believe but if you disagree that is OK with me as well.

      I wish everyone could learn to live their life, serve their God (whoever it may be) and be of good moral character, help your fellow man when in need. If you choose to not believe in God or the teachings of the Bible then that is your right. If you choose to believe that is also your right. Figure out what is going to help you live the best life, be a help to your neighbor and quit being arrogant because someone does not believe the same as you.

      Love your fellow man, regardless of his life choices!

      May 25, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Jessica

    What I love about Jesus Christ is that I can be a major F'ing jerk all my life, cheat, steal, lie, abuse...and then one day, I can say "Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I am so unbelievably sorry, I really really really really mean it" and BAM! Just like that, I am forgiven. Its like, nothing ever happened...it's like all my past sins are just forgiven, all because I am truly – deep in my soul – sorry, and Jesus knows this. Of course, no one will admit this is their TRUE line of thinking – it sounds bad to say "hey, im going to gamble that I get to ask Jesus to forgive me before I croak"...and gamble it is. Because if you spend 40 years of your life being a POS, and bam, a bus hits you...well, sorry charlie. But on the flip side, I could molest kids for 60 years and then "see the light" and well all be drinking margarita's in heaven!
    I guess, if you thought about it hard enough – thats just how america is. We've gambled on everything – and true, many people lose...but the house always wins. So, I just have to believe – nay – have faith – that im part of the house, and i'll come out on top! Faith, thats where it all starts and ends...just gotta have faith! dont ask questions, dont think too hard, just believe and the rest...as they say, will be fine!

    May 25, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Joel3

      So you're the source of your own understanding? This is why Christ came, if He hadn't, we would ALL be using your twisted logic Jessica. He is the only way out, I guess that's too much for your ego to handle. Regardless, what I have inside of me is undeniable, no matter how much your clever logic convinces you otherwise. There is a source to your life and conscience, I just hope you finally humble yourself and receive it someday.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • xyx25

      you will have all your questions answered in ebiblefellowship site. Nothing gaurantees your salvation. Youjust have to wait and hope on God for your salvation. Btw, don't confuse remorse with repentance.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • Jessica

      Joel3 – thats not my twisted logic, thats christianity's twisted logic. We were all born sinners, and we sin because we are sinners – just gotta get right with jesus at some point, and POOF – salvation. If thats not how it works, let me know...cuz i think there's some lost christians who spent their lives being just like me – or far worse, who then saw the light – and they now think they are saved, or some BS like that. Im just saying, there's lots of people roaming this earth that have spent their lives being miserable POS and suddenly saw the light, and christianity embraces them as success stories. Meanwhile, ive lived a good, peaceful life...ive made mistakes, ive done some bad things, but overall, nothing major or really bad. Im kind, albeit sometimes sarcastic, but at the end of the day I have a huge heart and I do right by people. If thats not enough for some man in the sky, so be it. I am not going to spend my life thinking about HIM – im going to spend it enjoying my time on earth, enjoying my family and friends. I suspect you think my thinking is prideful, but its not. I simply have faith in myself, the way you have faith in Jesus. call it pride, call it whatever you want. Im not arrogant enough to believe I can solve every problem, im just smart enough to believe that I might solve a lot of them if I at least try...

      May 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.