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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. WJC

    Then RUN, don't walk to the nearest baptistry, because there is no promise of tomorrow.

    May 25, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Sean

    I think it's more than a bit pathetic how this comment thread has been (yes amen) desecrated since the last time I've looked at it. Since I've last checked in, I've finished work, watched an episode of Lost with the wife, played with my kids, gone grocery shopping, had a family meal, made a raised bed for my garden, read stories to the kids, and tucked most of them in (one is falling asleep on my shoulder now) to bed. Meanwhile, a significant portion of this thread has been removed, presumably because some people don't want free speech to interfere with their worldview. How sad, how narrow-minded, and how utterly predictable. This will be my last comment on this subject: while I have been living, what have the "faithful" been up to?

    May 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  3. Thorrsman

    It would make more sense to be baptised as an adult than as an infant. I've been told that I was baptised–Luthern, I think. No memory of it and it made no difference when I judged that the time had come to decide if and what I believed.

    May 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
    • WJC

      That is correct. According to scripture you must BELIEVE and be baptized (Mark 16:15,16). Babies and young children are not accountable yet to God for their sins.

      May 25, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  4. Monson

    It is not us who can change...**people's beliefs**

    May 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  5. Monson

    This is the problem. Yes, Christians are called to spread the word of God and tell the world about Jesus. However, it is not us that can change us. That's Jesus' job. I think people get too caught up in trying to save someone and feel that it is up to them to make people change their minds. I'm a Christian too, but remember, it is not our job to actually change them. We can share the love and salvation that Jesus brings, but beyond that, it's up to them and Jesus. Let's not twist things anymore than they are already. Jesus loves everyone no matter what, it's not up to us to say if people are going to Heaven or Hell, but if there's one thing I can say and that is Jesus loves you and is waiting.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • flip

      right on. good word.

      May 26, 2010 at 12:41 am |
  6. Really People?

    You know what? We'll all find out when we die who was right or wrong. Religion if nothing else is solace for hard times.For weak minded people though? Some of the strongest people I have ever met went to church and prayed every day of their lives. I respect them for that. As well do I respect the non-believers who though criticizing other people's beliefs lend a hand to people in need.

    May 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • Really People?

      Which is what really matters.

      May 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
    • WJC

      What if you find out you were wrong?

      May 25, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  7. Michael

    "When you die, nothing happens." Brian

    Brian, when you die, nothing happens. It doesn't have to be like that though, but it's entirely up to you.

    May 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  8. Angel

    No matter what you are or what you think but more importantly, that God loves you so as you are and is waiting for that your come to the. Amen.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  9. serg

    ScottK

    So if you came to the conclusion the bible is not true...it safe to say you belive in evolution.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • ScottK

      Serg:
      I did not say I came to the conclusion the bible is not true, I came to the conclusion that 99% of the churches & organizations out there are misinterpreting it for the sole purpose of building up their member/$$ base. And I just havnt met the 1% that might be out there with the right conclusions who isnt trying to fleece its flock with tales of babies burning in hell because their parents didnt get them baptised soon enough, or that people who are sinning every day of their lives for 70-80 years should be potentially tortured for eons, those thoughts never originated with the God of the bible.

      May 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  10. ScottK

    Food for thought in all this religous dung flinging:
    1: Where would Adam & Eve be now if they had not sinned?
    a: In Heaven?
    b: In Hell?
    c: Limbo?
    d: Still Alive

    Answer: Still Alive – Rom 5: 12 says "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"

    So if God is infallable, and his original intent was for Adam to live forever on the earth, since I assume he did not WANT Adam to sin so that he could create a Heaven & a Hell where you either get eternal bliss or torment for a measly few years being good or bad on earth, why change his plan for Man after one piece of fruit? I mean he went to all the trouble of getting us here & making such a nice place to live (at least it was) and now it seems most Christians want to treat the earth as some temporary pergatory while they wait for some puffy clouds & a harp.

    After reading the bible 3 times and spending 28 years studying at several different theocratic schools, I think it finally makes sense to me, None of the religions out there know squat about the bible because they are so hung up on traditions and control, much like the priest class during the time of Jesus. Hopefully you'll rememeber how well they treated God's son on earth.

    P.S. Hell doesnt exist either, another invention from the conversion of christianity by Constantine, fear works better as a motivator. The original hebrew word that has been translated "Hell" was sheol which meant the grave, pure and simple. Infact the bible refers to death as sleep over 50 times, not some place where your awake being tortured.

    Signed
    No Longer A Sheeple

    May 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • kyle

      ScottK,

      You are right about Adam and Eve. They would still be alive. Much like believers will be in heaven 10,000 years from now.
      But he created us with a free will. And humankind messed it up.

      Let me ask you this...If you were God, would you create a being and program it to only say "I love you" or would you let them choose to love you? Which is more rewarding? I would say that the being that chooses to say "I love you" is more rewarding. The being that is programmed is merely a robot.

      Case in point, as scientists try to invent artificial intelligence, the goal is to get these machines to "think" on their own. It's way more rewarding. Otherwise they're just glorified tape recorders.

      He gave us that choice to love him, and he also gave us that choice to reject him. There are consequences to each decision. Heaven is the consequence (reward) of believing in him and hell is the consequence for rejecting him.

      Jesus talks about hell more than heaven. It's a real place. He describes it as a place that has unquenchable fire and torment. Since we're talking about Christianity, shouldn't we kind of listen to the founder of it?

      As for it being an invention of Constantine...When you make a statement, you should back it up with evidence. You can't just make a statement, and expect every one to believe it just because you said it. That is the problem with these boards...too many blanket statements, not enough evidence.

      May 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  11. serg

    You have to have more faith to be a atheist than to be a christian.
    Check to the evidence for the scriptures, do the research.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  12. Jeff

    just another part of the brain washing experience

    May 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  13. relians

    it's a worthless ritual that does nothing but reinforce the lies. "Threatening a kid with a non-existent hell is child abuse" Lying to children is child abuse. Anyone who tells a child that the bible is the word of god and perfect is lying to a child. We all know the bible lies, all preaches pastors, and other religious fools also know it lies, that is why they go to the doctor when they have a disease, because, contrary to the bible, disease is not caused by sin. Stop the abuse, stop the lies, join the human race.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • Sid

      Oh why are you on a belief blog? Jesus defeated death on our behalf. And all are welcome to receive Him if they seek Him. I'll pray for you.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  14. tiki

    @ sally just look at the most important thing like eternal hell or wat ever the punishment maybe that life time of not being free of this world and following christ that nothin compare to whats going to happen to the people that choose not to believe money will be spent anyways no matter how u look at it and what u call a bed time story has been here soooo long some of it has to be true its just that finding the truth i mean really seeking it and not casting down cus u dont believe in it u just need to seek for your self i dont believe in what most people believe in because i seeking and have not cast anything out yet so i tell you too seek whats the true meaing of life

    May 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Whatevah

    I did it as a teenager, to get my mom off my back. I was incredibly shy and was always too afraid to go up to the front of my Southern Baptist church to ask them to baptize me. When I got there that day, the heater was broken, so it was ice cold, in the middle of winter. The pastor we had at the time, who was an idiot by any standards stood in there in his waders, waiving me in. There was a dead lizard floating belly up on the top of the water. I remember all those things and a sense of relief that my mom would finally leave me alone about the ridiculous ceremony, but I don't remember any feeling of being "saved" or whatever. It was just a dumb ceremony. That's what it felt like to me.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Sid

      That's cause your heart wasn't in it. You didn't do it for yourself, but for someone else.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  16. flatcopilot

    This article made me happy. It's always encouraging to read about people encountering God in their lives and being inspired on their faith journeys. I really understand what she's talking about when she says "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."

    That feeling is the best one there is in the world. 🙂

    May 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  17. Nicole

    You know, us non-believers make up the largest minority group in the US. I would like to think I am smart enough to figure out right from wrong without some man in the sky telling me so. Where I come from people who talk to people in the sky are called crazy.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • NyteShayde

      Nicole, people who push their beliefs off on me and sneer at my faith: I call them zealots.

      May 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • evansing

      I would like to know where you reeived these stats on the vast majority who are unbelievers in God!!!!

      May 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  18. Chris

    Definitely is that desired to be with him now that will get us there, but that desired would be nothing with out His atoning sacrifice, his grace. that is the bridge but we have to choose to cross it by exercising or faith in keeping His commandments.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  19. Jumper53

    Absolute Love. That's a hard concept for us humans to understand because we live in the relative: left-right, up-down, good-bad etc. Absolute love. The shortest sentence in the Bible is Jesus wept and the second shortest is God is love, GOD IS LOVE. That's absolute. Love is defined by a bunch of things that you can you can research any way you so desire. Condemning, judgemental, revengefull, spiteful, hateful etc, do not fall in the category of love. Test all things. Keep what is good and stay away from what is not. This is the reason we know not what we do.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Maggie

    We die because we are programmed to die. Scientist can not tell us why we die because the way the human body works we should have been able to leave for ever. However we do die? You may ask yourself then why would God programmed us to die? The answer is simple. Because it is impossible for God to lie. He told our first parents they would die if they disobey. They did and they died. Then You may ask yourself would not it be easier for God to just remove the couple and start all over again? You need to understand God soveignty was brought into question. If God had destroyed the couple, then the millions and millions of God's son that were watching the situation in the garden unfold, some of them would have thought maybe Satan is right. God is withholding good information from his subjects. Maybe if he would let them lgo on living they would not have died.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • AGuest9

      So, you really believe that people without modern medicine, lived for hundreds of years???

      May 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
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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.

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