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. Mithra

    Baptism is fine...as long as you keep them under the water for 30 minutes!

    Oh..yea....where were you before you were born....? Because when I die...I hope that is where I am going...

    May 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Would that be to a testicle or to an egg?

      May 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  2. wilypagan

    Enough of the religious nonsense already. As if it isn't enough that they are using taxpayer money for "faith based initiatives". Soon we will be like Afghanistan. How about an article on what happens when religious freaks take over government CNN? Oh – I forgot. Ted Turner thinks god is trying to tell us something.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  3. God is Truly Loving!

    For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Pleace choose to accept Him today! It will be the best thing you've ever done!

    May 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  4. Linda Robinett

    I took it as the initatory expierence that it was meant to be. Most Baptists convert when they are young children but I was about 20 years old. The denomination I belonged to did not believe it cleansed one of sins but was a symbolic cleansing from sins and the step that made you a member of the church. In this particular church's beliefs, you joined a lineage starting with the Apostles who passed this down to their converts who passed it to a lengthy line of converts, unbroken to this day. I could argue that this is probably inaccurate for this church to claim but I think the spiritual part of this is much more important than the literal part.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  5. JibraeelWing

    Religion should be practiced as a very personal experience. I wonder why it is necessary to display our intentions in front of the public that we have turned to the Jesus Christ. I may be wrong but I think religious experiences are kind of Placebo effects. The human mind can make its own rules about deriving spiritual experiences from certain practices which may differ from society to society and person to person. The following equation may be used to interpret human experiences

    Actual Reality= Objective Experience + Subjective Experience(Placebo)

    Actual human experience is the sum of objective and subjective experiences. The religion falls into the subjective experience therefore if certain people can enhance their reality with subjective experiences then there is nothing wrong with it.

    Experience things as infinitely bountiful unless you can not do it.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  6. Annie

    Being that we are to be like Jesus, we get baptized because he got baptized. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Baptism is used as a symbol of our sins being washed away. We must, however, live in a way that pleases God not man. So to you atheists, why don't you find a mentor we already have one and his name is Jesus.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Jesus

    I'm make believe. I don't exist. You're all stupid.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Cynical Randy

    Somebody PLEASE tell me which Grand High Poobah at CNN found religion?? I thought this was hard news, albeit so liberal it does have two left feet, but not esoteric junk about how it feels to get wet because a clergyman did it. Speaking in tongues...?? Really??

    May 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Owen

    When did baptism become news, and how did it get the lead story? CNN should leave baptism announcements up to church circulars, and get on with reporting on national and international news. Meanwhile, if you're still waiting for CNN's guide to atheism, don't hold your breath.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  10. AshannaK

    When you rise from the waters of Baptism, you are clean. God has forgiven all your sins.
    That is to say that you won't make new ones, but being baptized gives you a connection to
    forgiveness. You will be forgiven your sins if you truly repent. I offer my heartiest
    congratulatiojns to those newly baptized and to those rebaptized. May His light forever
    shine upon you.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  11. sweetsugarrr

    AS an adult being baptized is a real choice for your faith and life in Jesus Christ. More meaningful and realizing that you are a child of God. When you were a baby you were told that you were baptized but really didn't take part in your mind or soul. Listen for the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit and be glad and proud of who you are!! Amen

    May 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  12. Wade

    I was RE-baptised in my early 20's in a ceremony held at a baptised church in Abilene, TX. The pool was in a loft at the front of the church, and had clear glass so the congregation could watch. Your asked to strip down in a adjacent room, and then told to put on a cotton robe (white) to wear just as pictured here in this story. Two problems happened during the proceedings......one, I forgot to hold my breath and nearly drowned.....and two, an air pocket got under the robe and lifted it above my waste so the congregation got a free look at my expense. Needless to say the entire congregation was laughing it's you know what off when I got out. Other than that, I didn't feel anything different, no big change took place, and I went on to live my life in sin per usual. Getting baptised doesn't make you anymore sinless than the next door neighbor, but at least God (?) knows I gave it a try, and embarrased myself in the attempt!

    May 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Tina

    WTH is up with all these Christian articles that make the top of the CNN page? Did this just turn into the Christian News Network? Leave it to news to force lies upon people!

    May 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Cliff Vegas

      Well, Tina. MOST of the reading public believes in God. You can see from the posts, not everybody is on the same page about it, but most of recognize that there is a higher power, moreover we hold that through this higher power, our faith gives us comfort for all the suffering we endure on this planet. Sounds kinda important, doesn't it? Sounds like a lot of people are interested in reading about it, yes? Perhaps the only lie is the one you are telling yourself – that you are ultimately responsible for your own fate. The fact that you posted your unkind (and rather uncreative) remark shows that at least you are struggling with the question itself – is there a God? Who knows, maybe in a few years you may find yourself splashing around in the baptismal pool with the rest of us.

      May 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
    • pazyfe

      Jesus is alive no matter how dead you may want Him or His purpose to be!!!!

      May 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  14. Dan

    I love how the atheists hang around on the belief blog and try to evangelize the Christians! HAHAHAHA!

    May 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  15. Boldly

    I'm just curious. Those of you who do not believe, why do you come to this blog and others like it? Most of you criticize Christians for seeking to convert those who disbelieve. Are you not trying to convert the believers to become disbelievers? If so, how can you criticize the believers for being evangelistic?

    It is possible that there is another motive. Perhaps you just want to pick a fight. Maybe you want to ridicule those who do not agree with you. It could be that you are dissatisfied with your disbelief and you hope that someone will give you the answer for which you are looking.

    If you are a disbeliever and have a good reason for contributing to a blog about faith, I would love to know it. It might help me understand some of these posts a little better if I knew.

    May 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • Jennifer P.

      Amen to that!

      May 30, 2010 at 6:05 am |
    • Joey

      Thank you. I feel like a dying breed.

      May 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • Sridhar

      perhaps they are trying to pump some sense into those confirmed block heads who have nothing better to do in lives than worrying abt baptism. I bet most of those weirdos dont even plan to have a career for themselves Or thier future generation...what a pity!

      May 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  16. MeMeMe

    This is a wonderful story. This is what she wants to do with her life. Why does anyone else care?

    May 27, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  17. Egocentric21

    God looks after women, children, and fools... So I thank him so much for watching over the people with these ignorant post!! I think that baptism is not only a redemption of one's soul, but a symbol of rebirth!!! God is Love... Love is God!!! God is the reason for Life!! Thank You for life Lord!! Congrats on your rebirth Jascinth!!

    May 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jumper53

      And yours is a heart that will be blessed with the peace from an All-Loving God.

      May 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  18. DMX

    The reason the world is in the shape it is now is because of the people get baptised and believe in the god nosense, The same thing that happened to Joseph Smith should happen to those the force religion down peoples throats.

    May 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
    • Dan

      Whereas those who try to force atheism down others' throats are to tolerated?

      May 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • pazyfe

      Not trying to force religion, just trying to change your character, deepen your love for each other and give thanks to the one who gave you life!

      May 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • kyle

      Who is trying to force their religion down the throat of whom? You seem pretty forceful, yourself.

      It's your choice whether you believe or not. Christians happen to realize that someone who is forced to be a Christian is not a Christian at all. We can't force you to believe and you can't force us to not believe. Civil conversation backed up with evidence, on the other hand, may persuade someone.

      May 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  19. DMX


    May 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • Jumper53

      And you DMX are still forgiven. That's the beauty and wisdom of a Loving God. Regardless of what you believe, he sent his son as atonement for you and everytone else. There is not for you to do. You have been forgiven. That is a done deal. You just won't reap the benefits of that forgiveness here in the form of blessings unless you accept it.

      May 27, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • MuDdLe

      Shhh! Keep it down, pal. You're screaming.

      Oh, and what an original post.

      May 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • cynthia

      Dear DMX, I understand how you feel about not believing in God. When I was in my twenties after going through some obstacles, I lost my faith and no longer believed in God. Until I cried out to him and than he revealed himself to me and showed me that he really did exist. So, If you have no desire to know who he is that is your choice. But if you have a desire to want to know if he exist than make an attempt to know him. If you approach him in the right way and have a sincere heart you too will see that he exist.

      May 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  20. righteous-in-Christ

    Everything that the bible has spoken is being manifested all over the world!

    May 26, 2010 at 6:47 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.