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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. Al J

    Amen to the Home Church in Atlanta! To God be the Glory!!!!

    June 1, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  2. Kathy

    I will be praying for those who had the special experience of baptism. Old and young are can accept Jesus and dedicate their lives. As for many youth, if they are not allowed to be baptised early they sometimes are influenced by peers with unacceptable behavior. If parental permission has been given, we should not complain.

    May 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
    • LouAz

      Kathy – What about the parents with unacceptable behavior ? Sounds like you know what "unacceptable behavior" is. Are you a god ? Does this baby or very young child baptism stuff work when the child does not even know a language and apparently is not self aware ? Doesn't make much sense . . .

      May 31, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  3. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Personally, I approve of adult baptism, as opposed to doing it to small children who cannot defend themselves.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  4. Eva Johnston

    Starting when I was about 3 years old, when my mom took me to church I used to sit there looking around going, "The stained glass windows and architecture are kinda pretty but what the heck is all of this hocus pocus hoopla!? This can't be real–it all looks like a big put on to me, just like Santa Claus! Are the adults attempting to 'put me on' again?!" I always felt there were better things I could be doing on a Sunday than sitting in doors being threatened with eternal damnation.Then at age 11 our church offered a special baptism session. My mom asked me if I would get baptized since she didn't have me baptized as an infant. So I agreed thinking, "Maybe if I get baptized I will finally be able to feel, understand and believe in all of the religious hokum. So I underwent the ceremony, fully expecting a ray of white light to shine on my literally and figuratively and that I would understand this impulse toward religion, feel different and finally believe. Well, it didnt happen–I didnt feel one bit different. On that day I had to admit once and for all that I was being scammed–that this type of religious observance was not for me. Now 41 years later, I still feel the same way, but I understand what religion does for some people. They need to tell themselves these tales and believe them to make the pain of living a little more bearable, to calm their fears, frighten them into being good, salve their guilt, give them a purpose and make them feel more important and powerful. I have absolutely no problem with other people needing their religious beliefs, as long as they dont try to force them on me. I am an Agnostic, meaning I truly don't know if there is a God or not, and I refuse to pretend that I do. It may surprise you to find out that even though I am not traditionally religious I believe that life is worth living, that it is right to be kind and honorable for their own sake and that every ordinary thing and moment of life is truly a miracle.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • LouAz

      You say that you are not religious, yet write that "life is a miracle". What do you mean "miracle" except "all of this hocus pocus hoopla" ? Are you trying to have it both ways ?

      May 31, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  5. Lathrop

    News must be damn slow today to show something like this on CNN's main page! Who cares!

    May 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  6. Cheri

    Being Jewish, I always wondered why Christians put such huge stock in the ceremony, then go out and live an un godly lifesyle, thinking that because they've been dipped, they have been 'saved". Judaism doesn't have baptism. The closest to it iswhen someone converts to Judaism ( after 1+ years of study) and they go to the mikveh( a pool of fresh water used by Orthodox Jewish women each month), submerge, symbolizing their new faith, receive a Hebrew name and that's it. this is rather simplistic, but close enough. Jews beleive you must do good in this life to earn a peice of the world to come and face G-d for how you led your life when you die. Since most Jews believe that this life on earth is hell enough, there is a better world to go to at death. ergo- we don't believe in hell, since we're already there now! My born again mother-in-law could never believe that I didn't beleive in hell- we had many an interesting discussions over the years. Some of my fellow Jews may disagree with this, bu that is how I was taught. I find our different belief system fascinating, and feel the more we know about each other's faith, the more we can understand and have tolerance for those who believe and worship differently

    May 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  7. James

    I think that everyone should just leave each other alone on the issue of religion. If you believe, then you believe and you do not need to defend yourselves. If you don't believe, you don't and you do not need to defend yourselves. If there is a judging god then that god will decide who was right and who was wrong, not any of you. This piece from CNN is about some people who believe in a god and that belief is washed over them through the metaphor of baptism. It is a very beautiful metaphor but it doesn't necessarily mean it's true or fact or the only way. That's the thing about belief and non-belief: it does not need to be proven and can't be anyway. Perhaps CNN was wrong to do a story on such a personal, private thing and perhaps these people are inauthentic in their pursuits – but perhaps they are striving for authenticity and, in this struggle of a life, baptism through Christ was the best way for them to feel as closely authentic as possible. No one is to say.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Lauren

    I am 21 years old and was just baptized and confirmed this year, after becoming a Christian the summer after I graduated high school. This was such a wonderful article, CNN. Thank you for providing the world with honest and realistic portrayals of regular people walking in faith. I really appreciate that a major news organization would be willing to take some of the limelight away from bombastic and fame-hungry people who have unfortunately become the face of contemporary Christianity for the rest of the world. At the same time, I am grieving for the people who have commented here who have not experienced the love, grace, mercy, peace and hope that comes from knowing that Jesus is Lord. It is not a fairytale, or a myth. There's a really great book called "Simply Christian" by a respected New Testament scholar named N.T. Wright, and it has a lot of wonderful answers and explanations for people who think of Christianity as only a community of ignorant, insulated people.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  9. AGuest9

    I can't believe in this day and age that we still have these discussions!

    Like the one the other day where my neighbor (a NASA employee) mentioned the "firmament of the waters".

    Folks, I've watched many a shuttle attain orbit. Nowhere from the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure (remember Challenger's "go at throttle up"?) to the point where they jettison the external tank on orbit, do they pass through a big floodgate.

    Please wake up and realize that it isn't God, it's man, and man is trying to keep you down (or, at least, tagging along like a sheep)...

    May 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  10. Apostolic1

    Baptism doth now also save us is what is written in the Scriptures. However, the manner of baptism is what;s important. When the church was born on the Day fo Pentecost and Peter stood up (after being filled with the Holy Ghost), he preached his first message to the Jews concerning Jesus Christ death, burial and resurrection. When he finished, they said, 'Brethren what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'repent and be baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS for the remissin of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). This formula of baptism is the only formla that is acceptance before God. This formula of baptism allows your soul to be covered by the blood of Jesus that was shed on calvary by faith, and places you in the body of Jesus Christ (the church). It sbrings remission (fortgiveness of sin). both past and present. No other formula of baptism will workk in the eyes of God. Unless the congregation that you are a part of uses Acts 2:38, your being submerged in water is in vain. You will be a dry sinner and come up a wet sinner. Now many will balk against this. But Jesus brought ONE PLAN OF SALVATION for every man or women, boy or girl who would believe. Alll must believe the same thing concerning Christ Jesus and must be taught the same as in line with the first apostles of the church who followed diligently the teachings of Jesus Christ. There is no baptist, 7th day adventist, methodist, presbyterian...etc mentioned even in the Scriptures. Just the church of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that they continued steadfast in the apotles' doctrine (Actgs 2:42). also known todayh as the Apostolic faith. So, if you plan of starting off on the right foot, the first thing to do is be baptized right according to scripture.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  11. Rachel

    To Prometheus:

    Our ability to use critical thinking and laws of logic to explore the universe is not in any way in conflict with the human desire to explore spirituality or faith in the unprovable. I understand the temptation of a scientific mind to reject spirituality outright, to dismiss it as an antiquated and obsolete method for understanding phenomena that occurs in the natural world. I think an educated, intelligent and open-minded adult can come to a point where they are able to embrace both faith and science simultaneously, in all of it's seemingly contradicting ways. I'm a Christian and also an allied healthcare professional who spent 7 years studying chemistry and biology in college. I see math as the language of our creator, in all of it's simple eloquence. It is said that all human beings have the knowledge of the existence of their Creator written on their hearts. Those who have not yet found their faith, can deny the Creator's existence all they want, but deep down they have a nagging feeling that there is something else out there just beyond the grasp of their logical mind.
    It keeps drawing them back to the topic of faith, even as they argue against it....
    For instance, what draws YOU to write a comment on this belief blog in the first place?

    May 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  12. David

    You must be born from water(Natural birth) and also the spirit(Spiritual birth or born again). Everything is within, without a clean conscience towards God none of this details are worth anything towards God.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Charles

    Adult Baptism has been practiced in Christianity from the beginning and before than in certain circles of Judaism. It is an intrinsic part of the Anabaptists. But be aware, Roman Catholicism does not approve, and has mutilated, tortured and murdered people for it back when it could.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  14. AGuest9

    It was said earlier, " It's not about common sense;" No truer words were spoken about organized religions.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Angi

    The photographs in this article are beautiful. Congratulations to those who have started this journey. It's a wonderful thing to share with us and not something to be mocked our criticized. I love reading articles on CNN but don't understand why some people feel the need to criticize and belittle others choices, beliefs, and opinions. No one is forcing anything on anyone. What makes our country amazing is the freedom to live our own lives. Live and let live.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Anita Chancey

    I have read through many of the posts. And for those who think I am off my rockers for believing, I want to say that I, as a Christian, am sorry for what some say here. I replied to a poster and said that 4 years ago today, I believed in a living, loving God, that Jesus died on the Cross and He rose again-for me. The day I got saved was both the hardest and easiest day of my life because it looked to me like I was crazy. But I knew I wasn't perfect. I also knew I wasn't evil. But, I couldn't figure out where the line was drawn until I saw that no one meets that line on their own. I mean, seriously, why was I better than someone in prison? I tried to use my smarts to figure this out (I'm egotistical-I am very book smart). I couldn't figure out why the Bible said something was wrong and it didn't look wrong. I spent 10 years as an adult being taught the truth at a great Church. It didn't make sense to me. I turned my back, walked out of Church, walked out on God, went to a point that I said there is no God. There were welling-meaning people who said I was stupid. Who said I thought I was better than God. It hurt because I thought they were my friends. However, they were right just used words that sounded judgmental. Luckily, God didn't give up on me, even though I gave up on Him. That hymn, based in Scripture, is so true, "I was blind, but now I see." I am not going to judge you or call you names, because I was there. All I can do is hope and pray that you can get in on something that is so powerful that it is hard to describe.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  17. WhyTheAnimosity

    I've been reading these posts and I have to admit I'm a little confused as to why people are posting comments with such viciousness. I'm a Christian who wholeheartedly respects people's right to choose what they want to believe in. I,myself, have chosen to put my faith in God (Jehovah) and his son (Jesus). If another person chooses not to do so, it is their RIGHT. Banging someone over the head with a Bible and threatening them with a nonexistent hell will never, I repeat never, persuade them to believe in God. It is a personal choice. With that thought in mind, it would behoove many of us to remember that we need to respect the choices of others. Also, I would like to clear up the general misconception that all Christians are uneducated swamp dwellers. I have attended university and taken many of the same philosophy, ethics, and logics classes as my peers. I still choose to believe in God and once again that is my personal right.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  18. Kate

    I think it's great if someone wants to be baptized again. A friend of mine is 18 and although she had always professed to be a Christian, she decided to be re-baptized as a way to symbolize her new commitment to the Lord. I was able to be there for her, and have seen her grow so much then.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  19. strukingfuggle

    Why would you give a perfectly good life away to a book? Religeon is for the poor and disenfranchised ... and most of all the cause of hundreds of millions of deaths and damaged people for millenium on this planet ... there is no book or way that can give a person a difinitive direction to an exclisive access to God ... He is accessed by every human, every day in billions of different paths ... so all those that say this THE ONLY way to GOD ... are much like the lobbyists at the white house ... just a bunch of self interest groups

    just my .02

    May 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  20. Kolabami

    I
    Matt: 3v11/- Indeed baptism with water unto repentance always must be followed with the baptism with the HolyGhost and with Fire!

    May 30, 2010 at 3:24 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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