Prague, Czech Republic
In May, Pastor Gareth Morris of the International Baptist Church, Prague, Czech Republic, baptized Rebecca Mabin, a ballerina from the U.K., dancing with the Prague National Theater company. This is her testimony:
After having some seriously awesome conversations with lots of people coming up to this day, I feel like it would be cool to explain what baptism is. Pastor Gareth will also explain a bit more later on too, and if you have any questions afterwards, I would love to talk to you about it too! Later on after the service, I will be in a tank of water in the church next door and I will answer some questions basically professing my faith outwardly. I will be fully submerged under the water, can’t wait, and this is a representation of how I am ‘made new into the life that Jesus has bought for me on the cross as he died.’ Obviously this is all symbolic, I am still going to be me, just slightly wetter, but I believe that this is a declaration of my faith thus far and is a symbol of my promise to God that I want to love and have Him in my life always.
I actually just this past week turned 21 and for someone who has been brought up in a Christian home attending church services regularly, you may wonder why I am only now getting baptized . In fact, in sharing the news of my baptism to a lot of my friends, about 70% were shocked I hadn’t previously been baptized already. Well, fitting my natural stubborn nature, as I was growing up I decided that I would only get baptized once I had fully decided and weighed the cost of following Jesus for myself.
Since being in Prague, lured away from London and my home culture, living alone in a flat for the first time in my life in a whole new country and culture, my relationship with God grew deeper and deeper. Thanks to this church family I have been able to continue growing into the person God always intended for me to be, not to say I’m anywhere near that just yet. I decided over New Year that this year would be the year I gave my life to Jesus on a public scale, and I felt I wanted to best honor him by getting baptized into this church family which I now get to call home. I think for a while I kept telling myself “No no, I’ll wait. I am not sure this commitment is something I can take on or I’m not where I should be or I will be closer to God and then do it,” when in all reality, isn’t this what grace is all about? No matter where we are in our walk of faith, we will never reach perfection because we will never be Jesus. So today I guess I’m here saying, “I know I’ll never be perfect; I know I won’t always make the right decisions or be in the perfect place within myself, but I also know that God knows that about me — all of my failings, all of my deep secrets and pains, and He still chooses to love me through it all.” All I will ever have is this promise to love God forever, through trials and temptations, through joys and blessings, and the rest I know that God will be at work in, …so what was I waiting for?
Although I was raised knowing about Christianity, I would say that only in the past four years or so have I really started to know God personally for myself and to call Him my Father, Friend, Love, Teacher, and Savior. It’s crazy looking back at myself growing up, professing to love a God I had barely known and whose voice I couldn’t recognize and all the while feeling so trapped within my own doubts and hypocrisy. My whole being longed to know who I truly was and whose I truly was too.
For me, it was definitely a slow fall, as God gracefully and mercifully lured me away from my sin and from things which were made to kill, destroy, or distract me from Himself. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that I am without sin. There is so much work to do in me, I know, but thanks to the complete grace of God, I am forgiven. I mean, isn’t that what this all boils down to? Knowing that we are human, imperfect, sometimes feeling so lost or broken, and holding ourselves together to face the world. We can inflict pain on others and ourselves without a second thought. And yet, God, who has been constantly redeeming us, pursuing us as His beautiful creation and His children, since the very beginning of time, would literally be betrayed by us daily in our sin and yet continually choose to love us and forgive us. To send Jesus, His son and a part of Himself, to die the death that we deserve and to reconcile us to Him. And on top of all of this, would continue to win us over, fight for us, love us in our doubts and heart breaks. This is the God I have come to know, and this is the God that I am getting baptized for today.
I also believe that God has demonstrated his actual presence in my life on many occasions. At times I have looked back in retrospect at my disappointments and life struggles thus far, and I can truly see God’s plan, like His mighty hand lifting me away from things meant to destroy me and my faith. If you don’t know much about me, my name is Beccy, and I am working here as a ballet dancer. This identity, all be it true, however is not who I am; yet there was a long time where I would have easily hidden behind and relinquished this identity to the point of imprisonment.
Whilst I was growing up, I decided to take ballet seriously and pursue a career in it. During this process I would say I successfully pushed people I loved away, only aware of myself and what I needed. I had an unhealthy relationship with my self-image and food and was determined to succeed all by myself. And I did pretty well at trying to do it all by myself until I couldn’t. I ran out of myself. Even now I see how God used each of my struggles to bring me here today, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have seen God take me away from ballet through injuries at different times, which in the moment seemed like a dead end for me. But with new eyes and a fresh perspective of God’s word, I learnt how crucial each of these hard times were — beautiful in their own way in order to give me true perspective on the world and God’s will for me in it.
But you see while I was in it, feeling stuck and confused about why God would be wanting me to suffer and not do the thing my heart had yearned for since I was young, I truly learnt how to look after my body and myself in the right, healthy way. He redeemed me from years of self-loathing and freed me from the chains I had been wearing for years that I hadn’t been able to see. Not only do I stand here knowing I am free from these pains, but I also found my relationships with my family were reconciled in new ways and God successfully softened my heart.
Our God is good. His plans are always good, for those who profess their love for Him. He is worth the hardships and persecutions; He is worth the early Sunday mornings; He is worth the tears and questions. He is worth the sacrifices we make daily just as He sees how much worth each and every one of us is. And He paid it all; He redeemed us with extra expenses covered because we are His prized pearl and special possession.
I know where I’m putting my hope. What about you?