On October 31, 2021, three ABC of Wisconsin congregations came together to facilitate the baptism of Gao Ling . She had been working with the people of First Baptist Ixonia, led by pastor Russ Antos. But Ixonia does not have a baptismal pool, and the option of an outdoor baptism was dwindling by the day. Pastor Betsy Perkins and First Baptist Delavan came to the rescue, opening their doors and baptismal pool for a common service to baptize Ling. Community Chinese of Milwaukee got involved because of the need for a translator of Mandarin, Ling’s first language. Pastor Judy King connected the congregations with a member named Shin-E who kindly provided translation throughout the service. It was a privilege to witness God’s servants welcoming another sister in Christ into the family of God.
The following is a reflection on the day by Pastor Russ, in the style of a Pauline epistle, recognizing the connections among all the congregations of Christ.
“God’s Spirit on the Move”
To our dear friend John, from God’s church servants – Betsy and Russ, grace and peace unto you! We pray for you and your charge always; we know you pray for us as well. We are so glad to have had you join us at the baptism of God’s most recent new-born friend in Christ, our dear Ling. We are writing you to share with all our brothers and sisters about the most recent events of the churches in the south of the region – Delavan and Ixonia. As you know, the Delavanians and Ixonians came together under the grace and peace of our Friend Lord and Savior, Jesus – to celebrate Ling’s decision to share her faith with others in her love and obedience through baptism. Another of God’s dear servant’s, Pastor Judy at the Community Chinese church in the Milwaukee city, sent Shin-E who spoke in Ling’s native Mandarin tongue so we all could understand. Shin-E and her husband Alex are surely among God’s most humble.
The friends from the church at Ixonia, and especially Ling who hails from China, felt so welcomed with all the attention provided them from every dear soul in attendance from the Delavan church. The heartfelt welcome was reminiscent of how many of us have experienced Jesus himself. Among so many other things, much was made of the warm water which filled the baptismal pool. Truly, God’s dearest friend David who is the pool man at Delavan, must have a joy-filled spirit. The warmth of the Delavan heart, matched the warmth of God’s holy waters.
The coming together of these far apart church friends began because the rivers in our region are running low, the beaches are murky with mud, and the weather has not been cooperative – making an outside baptism somewhat of a challenge, to say the least. And besides all that, our brothers and sisters at Ixonia, do not have an inside baptismal pool. With all that in mind, Betsy welcomed us to her church and the pool. John, what started as a need for a pool, quickly morphed into a gathering of Spirit-filled, far apart Christians becoming friends. It was a beautiful thing that God did.
John, did your heart, like so many in the church, jump with joy as Ling emerged from the soothing and professing pool waters of baptism? The subsequent applause made my water-soaked self, thrill in the presence of that Holy Spirit moment. I know this Presence will live in Ling’s heart forever, along with all. In the aftermath of baptism. Several of Ling’s new brothers and sisters in Christ from Ixonian church presented her a flower and a Word of encouragement. I just know, that as Words and flowers were given and spoken, God’s eyes teared with joy.
All dear ones of the Ixonia and Delavan churches rejoice and celebrate with Ling in her profession of faith through the warm pool waters of baptism. God on the Move!