04 May, five years ago, death, and life occurred.
“…Alright, let’s read Romans 5, uuuuhhhh, 6 through the end of the chapter.” The bible study facilitator’s request prompted that melodious sound which comes from the pages of God’s word being searched. A Brother began reading, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NAS
“Thaaat’s why He did it,” I interrupted?
The room became awkwardly silent while everyone adjusted their eyes on me. Anton’s stare made me the most uncomfortable. “Why y’all lookin’ at me like that?” My husband was the only one courageous enough to respond, “You didn’t know that?”
Simultaneously, Anton and the bible study facilitator asked, “So why did you get baptized?” I told them it was because I wanted to be a member of this church. I was then asked why I thought that. I had to explain that when I attended a gospel meeting two years prior, my “membership” had been questioned and I said that I did not belong to a church here, (Japan), but I was a member of ********** Baptist Church in my hometown because I’d been baptized there.
At that moment I was informed that I was not a member of the Church, and had to be baptized to be a member. I thought, okay, fair enough. I should join a church locally and try to get back into going. The lady, whom I was speaking with, was only going to be in Japan for two more days and encouraged me to study with someone who would be there longer. So, I gave her my telephone number and she passed it along. I began meeting with a Brother and his wife.
I had questions about worldly things, nothing really about God’s word. I was more concerned with what I’d have to stop doing if I did become a member. The meeting was ended with this question posed to me, “What do you need to do?” I wrote it down and acknowledged the invitation to mid-week study and Sunday services. On Sunday, I decided to go to the Chapel for their 1300 service because I’d been out Saturday night until about 0700 Sunday morning and yeah, I was a bit hung over, so there was no way I was going to make it to the 0900 service that I had been invited to.
The next Saturday, I had a hair appointment during the day. My hairstylist, (it was his wife who invited me to the gospel meeting), attended the 0900 service that I’d been invited to. He mentioned that he’d heard about my meeting and was “looking” for me Sunday morning. “I was tired,” was my simple reply.
I went out again that night and a friend questioned me about going to church the next day. I told her that I was going to go to the Chapel again. Well, Sunday morning, I decided against the Chapel and attended the worship service that I’d been invited to. Everyone was very welcoming and they seemed to have had a bond. No one gave off the impression that they didn’t belong; everyone knew everyone, genially. I was impressed!
So, at the appropriate time, I stood, introduced myself and how I had come to the knowledge of that congregation and said, “Brother ****** asked me a question and I know the answer.” He turned around with a smile and said, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?”
“Yes, I said aloud,” but was thinking, “Why is he asking me that? What does that have to do with anything?” We went to the pool and I was baptized. I was now a member of their church. Anton began attending services with me and three months later, he too, was baptized! That was all in 2002.
Now back to the bible study in May of 2004. After hearing, ‘My Story,’ Anton shook his head in disbelief and said, “I didn’t know that you didn’t know that.” He and I had not really talked about our salvation. I hardly listened to a lesson during Worship service because I was nursing, changing, or entertaining our daughter. Anton would sometimes ask me what I did I understand about the lesson and I would honestly tell him that I had no idea what he, (the preacher), was talking about; I wasn’t paying attention. I was happy being there and believing that I’d become a member of that church through baptism and that when we left for a new duty station, I was going to have to be baptized again in order to become a member of the new congregation we would be attending.
With more studying of God’s word, I now understand & believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was for my sins, Romans 5:6-8 and He was buried, but rose after three days, Mark 15:42-47 & Mark 16:1-14. Because I believed AND was baptized, I was saved, Mark 16:16! So awesome!
I now also understand that I was not joining a church as in a congregation that meets in a building. Baptism added, (Acts 2:41) me to the Body of Christ! Church is not a building; it is Christ’s body, (Colossians 1:24). Jesus built His Church based upon Simon Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:13-18 and Jesus is one person. Therefore, there is only one Church, (Ephesians 4:4-6), and I’m in, WHOA; I am a part of the Body, (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)! I do not have to be baptized at every congregation we worship with. WOW, Thank You Father for this understanding, thank You!
How awesome is it, that I was dead in sin, but God loves me so much that He made me alive again with Christ, (Colossians 2:9-15)? It is more awesome than I am able to explain, but I appreciate it.