Baptism at 20 Below

Tags: Canada, SEND North, Story

What?  Are you kidding me?  Requesting to be baptized in the middle of winter? 

Joe (not his real name) had been attending our little chapel since August, having come to our town as part of his urban planning internship.  His quiet strength and solid convictions were a welcome addition to our fellowship.  Being the Ontario kid that he was, he thoroughly enjoyed learning of the uniqueness of the Far North, including a desire to experience -40 (he got close when it hit -34C).  As his internship was coming to an end in early December, he asked for a favor: "Can you baptize me?  I was baptized as a small kid, but it would be very special for me if it can be done with this church and these people." 

My first impulsive thought was, 'you've been here since August, and now you ask this?'  I very much wanted to accommodate his request, but the actual mechanics of doing this would be a stretch, to say the least. 

I conferred with my colleague as to what we can do.  After several outside-the-box suggestions (bury him in snow :-), chop a hole in the lake, put him in the shower or bathtub), we agreed to pour water over him as he kneeled in a toboggan sled to catch the water.  I firmly believed that God would understand this method (even forgive us? :-)) even though we were staunch 'immersion-ists.'  After all, it's what's in the heart we believed.  And so we did; hearing of his confession of faith and desire to publicly make a stand to follow Jesus we poured water over him from a vase that looked like it came from the 3rd century B.C. 

After we sang "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" I asked in a matter-of-fact tone "Would anyone else wish to be baptized?"  To our surprise and delight a woman observing all this interjected: "Yes, I would."  The spontaneity of the moment was as thrilling and moving as was the initial baptism.  We repeated the steps once again and rejoiced in seeing these two followers of Jesus seal their commitment. 

Pastor T
Yukon, Canada