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. judy

    You know, I just wish that CNN along with other mainstream media corporations would devote 1/10 the space to we atheists, agnostics and other non-religious people as you do every single day to 'believers in supernatural beings'. I support the Secular Coalition of America and the right for everyone to believe as they wish. We never get a crumb of respect from you and your media cohorts. I have VERY strong moral beliefs that are not based on religion. Believe it or not atheists are compassionate, caring people and some of us even believe in a just war. We are diverse, intelligent humans who choose to live a life in the 'reality-based' world.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Bill

    I can't believe that this is the subject of something on a major NEWS network. What utter nonsense.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Dee

    One question...why are the atheists on this belief blog? If you don't believe in God then fine. What are you doing here? God does exist and He loves you. SO GET OVER IT. Every knee shall bow and every toungue will confess and acknowledge that God is God. You're either going to do it now or in the judgement. So you might as well accept Him now.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Yzma

    There's no record in the Bible of baptism of anyone but adults being baptised, so what's with "how does it feel to ber baptised as an adult"? Infants and children were simply not baptised by the apostles.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  5. glennrussell

    To the non Christians – you are spouting way more hate than any religion ever did. I just read a sampling of this garbage. No one can SAVE anyone who doesn't WANT to be saved either...

    May 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • strukingfuggle

      All part of a fools game ... there are no Map Quest directions that allow us to access GOD ... that is what structured religeon is all about ... gave my life to the LORD ... bunch of fools that don't realise that they are unique ... may as well give yourself to a book of Superman comics ...

      May 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • freetime1

      "To the non Christians – you are spouting way more hate than any religion ever did. "

      Yes, non believes flew plans into buildings and and blew up a building in OK. No wait, those were believers acting on their belifs in god. Now there have been atheist that have done bad thing also, but the differance is they do not do those things in the name of god or because of how religion programed them. Both the bible and the koran are fild with messages of hate and lot of people act on these messages of hate. A dip in some water will not make that evil go away. Doing a way with a belief in god might help make this a better world for all people.

      May 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  6. kmcwilliams

    If someone dunked me in a tub of water so that a magic fairy would like me, I'd call the cops

    May 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • pazyfe

      oh yes the same magic fairy that allows you to see each day, by grace`, and the same magic fairy that when you are hit with a crisis are so fast to call on.

      May 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  7. Chris

    While baptism doesn't work a miracle for the believer (that has already occured in the heart) it comes with incredible significance, as does the wedding ceremony of two people. The wedding ceremony doesn't cause the two to love each other more than before, but it cements their love commitment to each other in the presence of witnesses. In the same way baptism doesn't change the way I feel about Jesus, but cements my love commitment to Him. Jesus said, 'He that believes and is baptized shall be saved ' (Mark 16:15, 16). While baptism doesn't save anyone, in the eyes of Jesus it is extremely important.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  8. hilda

    I am a committed christian, got baptized as a grown up after I have decided to follow Jesus. My question or thought is not about baptism, but about CNN having articles about religion everyday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that is something I can't understand the reason behind it. It is not a religious organization or a place for people to get their religious info, so what is the point CNN????? no more regular news in the world to cover????

    May 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • pazyfe

      Listen hilda God uses whoever He needs to use, for His will to be done! Luke 19:40″I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

      May 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • cynthia

      CNN recoginzes that the majority of the American people are Christians, in which the network is catoring to the core beliefs of our society. Its obvious that CNN has some Christians working behind the scenes that have a desire to spread God's word thru some of the inspiring braodcast that they present. I pray that God will continue work thru CNN and bless Ted Turner and the whole CNN Staff.

      May 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  9. MuDdLe

    "Baptism! You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers." –UEM

    May 30, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  10. pazyfe

    I have learned Thanks to Minister Bazikian, a wonderful Bible Teacher where I worship that the inherent sin that is in you is what allows you to think those thoughts that are nothing to be proud of, but at the same time God who knows your heart watches to see if you act on those thoughts, that is with Rebirth is all about. Now you see the world in a different way., your spiritual eyes are focused. That homeless brother or sister is now your concern, the drug addict that you ignored and never looked at now catches your eye and you ask God what can I do? You are now less inclined to hurt another person with your words or any other way. Yes, you do make mistakes, but His mercy and grace touches you, but let's not get this twisted, God knows your heart, and God cannot be fooled.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  11. Amanda

    WOW beautiful article! Thank you CNN! For once Christianity is well represented 🙂

    May 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  12. freetime1

    Q: "Those of you who do not believe, why do you come to this blog and others like it?"

    A: To try and save you. You believe in a lie that is bad for mankind and that is a belief in a god. There is no god and the more people that believe this the better the world will be. It is not to late for any of you. We are not cavemen or women any longer, start to act like it.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Advent Truth

      'The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no God' (Pslm 14:1). Not only is there a God; He has His road map by which we should live and find our way back to Him. It's called the Holy Bible. I strongly recomend it to you. I also would recomend that you go back a llittle bit in history to the French Revolution and discovered the experience of that nation when they officially declared that there is no God except one's reasoning powers. It didn't take them long, only three and a half years, to change their minds. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and we are feeling the effects to this day. Unknown to you, that is perhaps where you got your notion that there is no God. He loves you so much that despite your denial of Him, He still allows you to breathe His air and live. What would you do if He withdrew His breath of life from you.
      My prayer is that someday you would come to know Him.

      May 31, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  13. e

    Religion = Insanity by consensus.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Charles

      I have noticed a marked increase in murder/ suicide over the past twenty years. I suspect this comes from people who have no fear of what a just God might do to them in the next life. If there is no next life, then why not show your disappointment with this one by taking as many with you as you can? But if you know there is an eternal punishment to avoid, and I pray everyone goes to Heaven, then walk gently through life until you exit when you must, but do no harm.

      May 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  14. brian

    I am a Christian, but i would speculate that most of the Christians who read this will say I am deluded and uninformed. My relationship with God is very private. I do not attend church and I do not constantly read the bible. I know two things for sure and these are; Jesus is my savior and God exists and does not have ultimate control over the lives of his Children. It is clear to me that there is more to faith than the ability to recite scripture or attend a house where people who accept you agree to worship with you. I am a good person, I do my best to try to help those in need and I give back to society what I take. I thank God for the food I eat and grow and I thank him for the wonderful place I have come to. Feel free to tell me I am a bad Christian, but hear this; there is nothing I could say right now that would change your view on faith or the way you worship so don't think for one second that there is anything you can say to me that will change mine. I believe in consideration, reason, rationale, freedom to worship, acceptance, forgiveness, and humility. Responses?

    May 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • Charles

      Christians left to their own devices without can lead to confusion, falling away and even dangerous delusions. This is how some cults get started. I recommend a small evangelical (but not fundamentalist) church and a program of Bible Study. Ask your pastor for a good site or a booklet.

      May 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  15. JPGard

    I don't apply any labels to my beliefs/disbeliefs, so feel free to apply the one you see fit.
    Having said that, I feel sorry for you individuals that have subscribed to a belief structure with a built-in "reset" switch. So, you sinned all your life? You beat your wife? You took a life? No problem.....simply claim penitence and *poof*, you're forgiven all your sins. It's irresponsible, to say the least. There's no accepting responsibility for your actions. No learning your lesson.
    I have had the experience of attending many types of services representing many different faiths. The one constant is this belief that you can be purged of and forgiven for all your sins through some kind of ritual. There's no accountability for your sins other than your . What goes hand in hand with this belief is a whole lot of hypocricy. It seems the more devout the follower, the more extreme the hypocricy. However, most choose to turn a blind eye to this.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Shannon Underwood

    Being an adult is being responsible for your own actions.l Its time the media quit reporting on this religious behavior as valid news and charged them as advertizers. The media would be more stable and people would realize this is a business recruiting customers to pay.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  17. Lisa

    Brent, it's my understanding that Catholics are baptized right after birth, unless they have converted later in life – for Baptists and 7th Day Adventists it is a conscious choice once one becomes old enough to make the decision independently, and, of course, with the counsel of Christ Himself.
    I was baptized as a Catholic, and even though I'm not a churchgoer per se, I'm happy I was given this gift.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  18. Vanard

    What an inspiration THANKS CNN

    May 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  19. Jay

    I am a Christian, but I will say this. Alot of Atheists are here telling of the evils of religion. Well, they're right.
    We tell Atheists they are free to believe what they will, but then tell them they are wrong and NEED to convert. Why wouldnt they resent us? Are we not supposed to be an example of Christ? We're supposed to live the good news, not dress people down with it. We should be a living example of Christ's love. So when they say we act like an elite society, all in all, they have a good argument. Religion as a whole IS corrupt, a money-making organization that gives Christians, Muslims, Catholics, and Jews the negatie stereotypes.
    What's missing from all this debate, of whether or not God exists, is, the Faith. Faith and religion are NOT the same. I abhor religion, it's a big corporation that needs money and creates controversy. But Faith, Faith is why no one can tell me that the God of Abraham who, for that matter, is the God of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, is real.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Rachel

      It takes all kinds of witnessing to draw in new believers. The best method to use, I think, depends on whom you are trying to reach. I agree, we Christians often further alienate those who we are trying to reach. Sometimes it's best to let our own actions speak for themselves, and to leave the bible tracts at home. When we display the deep love and empathy for others that Christ has put in our hearts, by treating ALL of our fellow human beings with respect, dignity and kindness -– that's when the hearts of unbelievers become softened. Sometimes we try too hard and we end up offending people. The walls that are built up between Christians and the secular world are often very hard to tear down. When we go about our business in a kind and gracious manner people notice that. When we do our best to not be judgmental or hypocritical, people are more able to see the light of the holy spirit in us. When they see that peace and light in us, they will want to experience it, too!

      May 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Jeremy

    this is not NEWS. when do we get to have a news channel that actually reports REAL NEWS? this is not front page material. This is CNN trying to capitalize on religious people, which is why it was posted on a Sunday & not any other day of the week.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:21 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.