Editors Note: Melissa Cadena had never participated in church until she experienced the love of God through a local Presbyterian congregation. In late September of 2011 she was baptized into new life in Jesus Christ in the Guadalupe River, joining the fellowship of believers at Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church, a new church development in New Braunfels, Texas. When we saw these amazing pictures of the baptism of Melissa and her daughter, Nicole, we wanted to hear what this experience means to Melissa six months on. Below are her reflections on the significance of what happened to her and Nicole in that river.
“I promise, with God’s help.” Those were the most significant words to me as I knelt in the river, water to my chest, waiting to be dunked under the cold water for my baptism.
I thought I would have been uncomfortable having so many people staring at me. I didn’t want all that attention. As I was pulled back through the surface of the water, seeing all my friends and family watching me, I wasn’t embarrassed. I was overwhelmed with joy. I was not alone. They were all here because they loved me. They were witnesses to my transformation. Baptism is a public affirmation of faith and now I understand why. It holds you accountable for your choice and your actions thereafter.
My promise to denounce evil and follow Jesus Christ was not a promise to be perfect or sinless. I promised to try and to acknowledge that I cannot possibly do it alone. It was a statement of dedication, of walking that path as straight as possible and to keep my faith even when there is no clear path to follow.
This is a promise that I also made on behalf of my daughter during her baptism. I will remember her baptism as well as my own. There was an overwhelming feeling of love for her as I presented her to God. I was never more aware of my choices in life than I was as I watched my daughter, Nicole, being prayed over and blessed. I, as a parent, am responsible for her journey. I want my child to know God. I want her to live a life of faith.
Sprinkling, dunking or pouring, and a commitment to Jesus as Lord, and God his Father are all it takes to begin a life of love, hope and faith. My eyes have been opened and my heart is full. I thank you, God, for this amazing experience.
Editor’s Note: Initially Community Fellowship began in July 2008 with no funding, no building, no land and no people — which is known as “a parachute drop.” Launched and blessed by Mission Presbytery, Synod of the Sun, the General Assembly Mission Council and the office of Evangelism and Church Growth, they received a $100,000 mission program grant in 2009 (payable over seven years).