God uses the smallest of things to help us reach incarcerated youth. Here’s a story from Chaplain John about how a promise of cake and lemonade helped bring young men to baptism at Rockdale RYDC.
12 were baptized in Rockdale RYDC recently - what a blessing to be a part of that! That made 20 baptisms in the last 60 days (and in a facility that holds 52 max). 40%. Can you say revival? God is saying something.
Those baptized ranged in age from 14 to 16. Some had been baptized before (don't tell my bishop!). Rules were set aside for the experience of being born again. Scandalous!
Striking to me was the volition. Some are baptized as infants. Some were baptized around 12 under the inescapable peer pressure of the proverbial altar call and an unending chorus of ‘Just As I Am.’ These kids chose to be baptized. God called them. They said yes. I'm vain enough to wish I had something to do with it. Nothing.
One kid shook in fear. Quietly he said, “I don't know how to swim.” Talk about peer pressure. Admitting you are scared of 24 inches of water is embarrassing. Didn't stop the boy from being real. I made him look me in the eyes. Just as quietly I said, “You got this. I'm not going to let anything happen to you.” This particular kid was no stranger to gunfire and a life at risk. He chose to die last Tuesday. He chose.
One 16 year old was called to court at the exact time he was called to baptism. He was crushed. He was released yesterday. He’s already texted me about putting together a baptism on the outside. It wasn't an act. Not for show.
A couple of days after this baptism, some of the newly baptized came to me and said, “You know pastor, some got baptized because there was cake and lemonade after.” To their surprise I said, “So what? They said they wanted to be baptized. I can't know their hearts any more than I can know yours. I'm not their judge. That's between them and God.”
Cake and lemonade? God uses the smallest of things. I read somewhere about a mustard seed. Perhaps cake and lemonade were the draw. The faces of all those who were plunged under the cold water of baptism signifying the death of the old self emerged with the expression "I'm born again." I can't know for sure. God does. And He is the only one worthy to judge in this case. To Him be the thanks. To Him be the glory.
Pastor John Richardson
Chaplain – HeartBound Ministries