Baptism welcomes new believer to the church
Posted by Laura Rendall | Published July 13, 2017
On a hot Sunday afternoon, on the banks of the Skunk River, Du stood before our church cluster ready to be baptized. Using the words of Joshua he testified to us, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When he came up out of the water we broke into cheers. It was a joyful moment, and we weren’t only glad for Du’s salvation. We were celebrating the growth God had produced in our midst as we lived our lives according to His principles. Du had been a much-loved part of our community for four years. His baptism was a product of the many conversations each of us had had with him, and of the many ways we had sought to demonstrate God’s truth through our behavior. In Du’s own words, “Without a church, this day wouldn’t have happened.”
Du was first connected to North Campus Church through Kelsie Olsen. When Du and his wife, Gabrielle, moved to the US and settled in Ames, he and Kelsie worked in the same ISU chemistry lab. When Kelsie heard that Du and Gabrielle were between apartments and needed temporary housing, she connected them with Sarah and Curtis Spence. Du and Gabrielle stayed with Spences for three weeks and on the very last night came with them to church. But that’s not when Du’s life changed. In fact, we didn’t see Du and Gabrielle after that for a whole year.
Through work, Kelsie stayed friends with Du and Gabrielle and would invite them to church events occasionally. Eventually, the two of them started coming to hang-out type gatherings. During that time Du started noticing a difference in the people of our church. “The people I saw were happy, hospitable, and had a focus in life. I thought to myself that I wanted the kind of life they were living.” Du and Gabrielle started coming to our church meetings.
Du entered our community very observantly. “I always watched people’s words and interactions,” he told me. “I watched all the people here [at church] in their families and communities.” He respected the lives that he saw and became more and more curious about how to get that kind of life for himself. He realized that Christians are different than other people. He admired the focus we have on Jesus, and the peace and confidence we have as a result. “I wanted to have the things the rest of the church had,” Du says.
As he was mulling over these thoughts, our church began a First Principles study. “As we studied the first principles, I found that a new man was rising inside of me,” Du told me. “I began to have two different thoughts every time I faced something new.” Du felt a conflict inside of him. When approaching a situation he would have two thoughts about how to approach it – the first being the way he was used to thinking, and the second being the way he had learned through the first principles. “I could feel there was something new in my mind. It was difficult. I struggled between two thoughts and could not solve it.”
Du wanted to believe in God but had trouble making the final leap to faith. He felt that if God proved Himself, then he would be able to believe: If he saw God transform his life, then he would be able to have faith. He was hungry to understand more, and had been told that the best way to resolve his conflict was to study scripture. So he began a one-on-one First Principles study with my husband, James.
“Studying Romans 14 with James gave me relief in my conflict.” Du told me. “It helped me understand how to balance the new man and the old man inside of me.” He realized that Christian faith isn’t strict and rigid – Christians have freedom to behave differently while holding to the same principles.
Du decided to try a different approach in his struggle to believe. Being a scientist, he formed a hypothesis to test Christianity. Instead of holding to his previous attitude – that of needing to see personal transformation in order to believe - Du decided to work the other way around. His new hypothesis was that if he believed first, and let the Word guide his life, then he would see personal transformation through God’s principles.
Over the next year or so, Du studied hard, discussed freely, and observed constantly. He used the first principles he had learned to guide his actions. And as a result – his life started changing! His hypothesis proved itself true. “As I worked, I found that I was making great improvement,” Du says. Transformation started happening in his personal, family, and work life.
As his life changed, Du found that the struggle he felt between his old man and new man resolved itself automatically. “The Holy Spirit worked inside of me and worked away my concerns and reservations.” Du could feel the new man inside winning.
Finally, after a four-year journey, Du stood in front of us ready to be baptized. “I have found that the best way to follow and obey God is just to follow and obey Him,” he said to us. “'So as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'”
Later that night, after we’d spent time around the dinner table talking and laughing, Du shared a paper with us in which he did some reflecting. Here is a part of what he wrote:
“My life is completely changed since I came to the US and North Campus Church. Most importantly, I became a Christian from an atheist. It’s a tough journey for me to be a Christian. It takes 4 years for me to complete the inner struggle between old man and new man. Finally, I understand the reason why I want to be a Christian is that I believe there is a God he creates the universe; there is Jesus Christ who died for our sins and wants us to receive his endless grace not only for Jew but also for us Gentiles. I want to cite one of our songs 10,000 Reasons “Sing like never before.” As a new man, I want to “think like never before, behave like never before.” I really appreciate all the efforts from the North Campus Church. Through your words and actions, I end my old man and new man battle. Thank you for letting me know the new world.”