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. Reality

    Questioning like an adult:

    Adam and Eve did not exist therefore there was no original sin. So why do we need baptism?

    May 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Rational

    where is the non-belief blog CNN?

    May 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jesus Is Real

      To Rational – You are the non-belief blog!!!

      May 27, 2010 at 7:15 am |
    • kyle

      Do you BELIEVE...that there is no God?

      No matter what you think, you have a set of beliefs.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:51 am |
  3. LouAz

    Appears that CNN has purged 200 (or more) comments from a broad group of people that do not believe in imaginary friends.
    Wonder if they would have purged Galileo comments about the Earth not being in the Center of the Universe. So much for the First Ammendment. Come on CNN, if you can't stand the answer, don'rt ask the question !

    May 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Feels like jumping into a swimming pool, and having someone hold you there, until you almost drown.

    Not much fun, and certainly nothing but a ritual.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  5. Enthalpy

    Remember – God loves you. He loves you, as long as you don't do one of 10 things; 'cause if you do he'll send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to stay forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you – he loves you. And he needs money.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Atheism4Ever

      In memory of George Carlin. He put it better than anyone else.

      May 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  6. Dennis

    It is truly amazing how fast the religious can organize, I wish the democrats would rally around and support each other as much as the religious can.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  7. Johnnie J.

    Shamrock6, that incredible intelligence who created all of us and all things is an unseen spirit we the Christians describe as our Almighty God, his only begotten son is Jesus Christ, born without sin, crucified died on this earth and resurrected in 3 days. He thought and showed us the way to his father, our God, the unseen spirit and to know him in spirit, obey his commandments, worship and praise him spiritually. All this knowledge of him can be experienced spiritually by his grace of understanding. Therefore is all mystery of faith and extraordinary mysterious. It’s just like not knowing your natural parents, and as such never experienced their love and caring. It takes time to get to know them eventually and establish a relationship. It gets even more confusing and strange to love and build a relationship with an unseen spirit, and yet asked to form a relationship. This is the mystery we as Christians describe as faith that comes by a spiritual gift of God's grace and mercy through the Holy Spirit who manifest itself and renew your heart and mind in the knowledge of God's son Jesus Christ and his teachings of his father’s ways. The difficulty is our past ignorance of believing and sometimes obeying only in things we see, observe and follow. But to obey unseen God is a supernatural gift of grace bestowed on the obedient who surrenders to humility and love of thy neighbor as thyself. The knowledge and understanding of who this unseen God, is what we Christians undergo through the immersion of water as understanding and renewal of our heart and mind called baptism only after the profession of faith mysteriously.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  8. Dennis

    What is the purpose of this story, it is not news in any way shape or form. Is CNN now a church, using its access to spread the word. I am very disappointed, CNN write more stories on Global Warming, Corrupt Politicians, BP for god sakes!!

    May 26, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • Chris

      Its a blog, you idiot.

      May 26, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • Dan Gilgoff

      We write a lot about global warming, corrupt politicians, and BP, and will continue to, but we want to cover religion, too, because it's one of the most powerful forces in the world. You're right, this isn't news. But one thing we're trying to do with the blog is cover religious experience - in addition to news - as a way for people to learn about traditions and rituals that have millions of adherents. Others have thoughts on this?

      May 26, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Amanda

      I am impressed that CNN chose to tackle religion in this way! Only the cooky extremists make the headlines. Maybe this way we can actually learn something of value!

      May 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  9. Karen

    To those taking exception to persons electing to be baptized..Being baptized is about a desire to walk in Christ's foot steps. It is the awakening of our faith and acceptance that we have eternal life. As humans we are prone to doubt. If "it" can't be packaged or banked then it can't be real...right ? We are not mindless or looking for a justification of our 'sin'. We are reaching out...to our heavenly father, and reaching inward so that we may be open to all of the possibilities of Christ's love and sacrifice. For some baptism is symbolic. for others ...there is a palpable sensation of the Holy Spirit. No wrong or right. Just what we experience. To those of you with anger and bitterness at the persons who chose to be 'reborn'...Just know that that next time you are caught in a rainstorm...wet from the deluge...you may have the sudden realization that you were baptized by the holy spirit. You could have used your umbrella...but something kept you from opening it. It may be that simple, brief or natural. God be with you and help you to know his constant love.

    May 26, 2010 at 8:20 am |
    • Allen

      Pick up a history book and do some research. If putting water on some one makes them born again than I am baptised ever day when I take a shower. God gave you a brain use it!

      May 26, 2010 at 8:45 am |
    • John


      Born again is of the spirit. It is a spiritual state. Obviously one can not go into the womb again and be re-born. Nor do showers, give you that. But when one recognizes that one wants to shed with the past, one is born again through baptism, as a conscious decision and as a witness to others, that one wants to walk with Christ as a savior.

      Ultimately this may sound foolish to those who are in a spiritual journey, but it is a symbolic step to acknowledge God's presence in our lives, and the beginning of a new life, that is filled with purpose, and actions of love and care for humanity, is a transformation.

      This can happen at any time, but baptism is a conscious voluntary decision to accept God and give withness to our faith.

      May 26, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  10. Shamrock6

    All organized religions represent a platform of intolerance, division and judgment. They were created as a way to control extremely large groups of people in the easiest way possible. They also represent an attempt to explain esoteric concepts such as "where did we come from", "why are we here", and "where are we going" to a collective mindset that otherwise cannot explain these things. Put simply, they are no longer necessary. Several centuries from now there won't be any Christianity except in the history books alongside the Egyptians worship of the sun and the Greeks and Romans worship of multiple Gods. Religion, like anything else, has a timeline and a storyline. For centuries our main mode of conveyence was by horseback....now it's by car. The same will be said for organized religion. For centuries man used religion as a way to explain certain "unexplainable" things. At some point...hopefully soon...it just won't be needed. BTW – some incredible intelligence did create all of this....I'm sure of it. I'm also certain that we will all get to see what happens when we die...we do go somewhere...although I'm not sure where that is...but I hope it's beautiful.

    May 26, 2010 at 7:06 am |
    • HamletOgaard

      You're probably right. The primary goal of organized religion seems to have essentially been controlling people's lives. Before the existence of an effective civilian police force, a more basic form of behavioral control was necessary–religion and its threat of unending torture in the afterlife for those who don't adhere to its commandments.

      May 26, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  11. cbs

    OMG, is this for real?!?! There is only one true God!!! The Flying Spaghetti Monster!!! You are all blasphemers!!!

    May 26, 2010 at 2:07 am |
    • James

      HAHAHA! May HIS noodley appendages wave over all of us!

      May 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  12. HamletOgaard

    Baptism seems almost like a Christian version of waterboarding. Does simulating the sensation of drowning during adult baptisms scare them into believing nonsense?

    May 26, 2010 at 1:28 am |
    • K

      Baptism is simply a representation of your faith. There is no torturous feeling of drowning. For me, baptism was my way of saying I believe that Jesus died, was buried and was resurrected. I guess it is different for different faiths. This is a way of remembering the life of a man who did no wrong punishable by death, yet who took it anyway, in a way most cruel, to save the eternal lives of his friends. I don't know why God allows such evil to occur, and I won't until I get to ask him. My life is supposed to be about loving my friends (and really that should be everyone) and loving my God. I am allowed to ask questions.

      May 26, 2010 at 5:27 am |
    • Rebecca

      It is nothing like waterboarding and there is no feeling of fear. You wouldn't be afraid going under the water for a second in a swimming pool, right?

      May 26, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  13. The_Mick

    Like Ben Franklin, and many other founding fathers, I believe that the organized religions got it basically wrong and that any Supreme Being that exists must be so far above us he could care less whether we worship him or not. And I agree with Thomas Jefferson's belief that Jesus is misrepresented (he wrote a version of the New Testament treating Jesus as an ordinary man, not a divinity). Obviously, I don't agree with Texas's re-writing of history to mis-portray the founding fathers as basing their lives and government on Christianity.

    Still, the sentiment of LucyJean is worth repeating: "I would rather die living as if He does exist then living as if He doesn't." That makes a lot of sense. The precepts of modern religion – the secular parts of the Ten Commandments, the Parables (Good Samaritan, etc.) etc. are things worth emulating. But expecting a God to come and rescue you from your troubles when He can't be motivated to lift a divine finger to right the greatest wrongs, like saving a little girl who's being tortured by a pervert and then set on fire, is expecting far too much.

    As Abraham Lincoln said when people complained that he didn't go to church: if there's a religion that says you can quietly admire the Great Spirit, do good to others, and lead a just life, I'll join it.

    May 26, 2010 at 1:23 am |
    • Another Ben

      responding to "The_Mick": It seems your main argument is that the presence of hideous evil in the world negates the possibility of there being a Supreme Being who gives a damn. What are the alternatives? the Supreme Being could allow there to be no evil, no bad decisions: then wouldn't life be pretty robotic, and I think so much of our appreciation of the good and beautiful comes from a deep and painful understanding of the evil. the Supreme Being could allow some evil, up to a point: but I'm not sure how that would play out, would it be like we all had invisible electrical dog collars on, that would let us go only so far, but if we were about to stray into the "too evil" zone, we would be shocked?

      May 26, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • Mike


      When you find the absolute sinless, perfect person(s) in this world, let us know.
      THOSE are the people who "deserve" all the "good" that you feel we are ALL worthy of.

      It's funny that most people (especially atheists) think they are "good people"; at least "good enough" (the "I'm not Hitler" argument) and yet, if all of the "good people" DID good, then why is the world the way it is? There are definitely MORE good people in the world than BAD, right?

      I say, when all of you "good people" take in the homeless, feed the hungry etc etc instead of just paying lip-service or throwing money at a cause w/out any true involvement, THEN you can get rid of religions. As it stands right now though, Christians were in places Haiti BEFORE disaster strikes, and they stay long after everyone else leaves.

      Christians are around the world DOING instead of "talking".

      May 26, 2010 at 6:51 am |
      • Allen

        Good Point Mike! I think if people just took care of those who need it, regardles of why they need help. This world would be alot better. I know alot of people who go to church everytime the door is open and feel that they are doing good by giving money to the church; when they could take that time that they were at church getting baptised to help their poeple in their community that need help.

        May 26, 2010 at 8:51 am |
        • mommac

          The reason the world is in the shape it is now is becuase enough people dont get baptised and stay true to the commitment. The bible says do not conform to the ways of the world. If people would stand on the solid word of God and trust and live in faith. People always talk about Christians being those people, but when times are hard and you need something to help you after you have put yourself in bad shape by the worldy choices you made. Where is the first place you look for help. The church and the people in it.

          May 26, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
      • Jeremy

        I don't disagree that churches promote a sense of well-being and community, and often provide humanitarian assistance. However, you don't need religion to be a good person. There are bad Christians as well, just as there are good atheists. Further, religion (Christianity absolutely included) has been responsible for some of the worst aspects of humanity, including war, discrimination, and countless others.

        May 26, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  14. The_Mick

    I've literally walked in the Jordan River -right near where a well-known minister does baptisms. But I didn't get baptized. I agree with the sentiment of a bumper sticker I saw that made me laugh so hard I'm lucky I didn't crash: Born OK the first time!

    May 26, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  15. flip

    where'd u come up with that crazy idea? certainly not from Jesus

    May 26, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  16. Sheila

    God and You. That is what is real. Your personal relationship with him. But people rejected God a long time ago. Jesus his son was sent to reconcile us to God. Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are "one", they do not disagree on any matter.

    They want you to live in beautiful love and peace too. A life in God's Kingdom where there is no hardship, hurt, or pain is offered to you. You just have to want something better than this life. Just ask for forgiveness and call on him. You can talk with the Lord and share with him, your deepest feelings and thoughts. He hears you. And he does answer prayers that are righteous and pure.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  17. LucyJean

    Can you give any proof that God DOESN'T exist?
    I would rather die living as if He does exist then living as if He doesn't. Ask Him to prove Himself to you, and I promise that He will. God bless!

    May 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  18. Greg

    What a pathetic display of humanity's greatest liability;
    a celebration of total abdication of personal responsibility.
    From now on, these brainwashed people will ive in pursuit of
    reward in life after death (oxymoron), or to avoid punishment in life after death. (Oxymoron again).
    Nothing they do will ever again be for the sake of doing it.
    I feel so sorry for these zombies and those who will depend on them.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • Michael

      Baptism is the rite of initiation into a life of following Jesus. Properly understood, it is the undertaking of huge responsibility, not only spiritually, but toward humanity as Jesus stated that authenitic mark of his followers would be their love for one another and their service to the world. Any theology or philosophies that suggest an abdication of these responsibilities are not Christian and certainly are not consistent with scriptural, historical, or traditional view of baptism.

      May 26, 2010 at 5:24 am |
    • LaDiva

      Please don't feel sorry for these so called zombies as u so eloquently stated.
      Apparently the ones u should feel sorry for are the zombies who do not know or want to know the word of God.

      May 26, 2010 at 6:31 am |
    • Mike

      I believe that "living death" is an oxymoron you're looking for if I stick w/ your zombie analogy but you've got it otherwise wrong. Phrases like "jumbo shrimp", "awfully pretty" and "accurate estimate" are examples of oxymorons.

      "Life after death" is the definition of "afterlife".

      As far as religion goes, "abdication" is only true in the sense that Jesus TOOK ALL the responsibility for our sins.
      So, yes, -I- won't be held accountable as He was. That is the source of Christian remorse, shame, repentance and motivation for a less sinful life (not sinless, as we are corrupted) but mostly our lives signify His GRACE.

      I will agree on one note that this person being baptized is putting too much emphasis on a symbolic act and not the life afterward. We get baptized to let everyone know who we are, what we are doing and what we believe in; as it is prescribed in the Bible.

      May 26, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  19. nonny

    I think the Christians here have made a serious mistake. They have been judging those who are not Christians. That's so not our place! How can we judge those who don't subscribe to our belief system? Talon7, Brent and all the others who don't identify themselves as Christians – we should not be judging them! Yes, we need to hold each other accountable for our actions and beliefs, but not people who don't belong to our group! Spreading the good news is completely appropriate for this forum. But really, are threats of hellfire and a dissatisfying life part of the gospel – does that sound like good news? Y'all I'm just saying, keep your judgments where they need to be.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
    • Happy

      I'm happy for you and your decision to be baptized. I was baptized when I was 12 and it was a happy day for me too. It was a lot like my wedding day. A ceremony to show publically that I have decided to dedicate my life to this man. When I was baptized, just like when I was married, I knew I wouldn't always be perfect. But that is not the point. It is a decision to be in a relationship. I love my husband and I love my God. God bless you and your relationship with Him each day.

      May 30, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  20. WJC

    I was once a lot like you. But don't worry, as long as you are still living and breathing there is still hope.

    May 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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.