Kim Henderson – A church reborn


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. The Bible tells us that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Here’s WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson on new beginnings.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: Nola is a rural community like a thousand more dotting the landscape of the South. Emptied out by changed railway lines. Leaving little to work with come census-taking time.

For nearly 10 years, people walked past the unused baptistry sitting square at the front of Nola’s only church. Then one weekend, 200 gallons of water filled its 1960s blue fiberglass. A brand-new heater bought off the internet spent a whole night warming that basin of water.

Sunday morning dawned bright, holding enough temperature of its own to make the air conditioner start up. Members and visitors piled into the pews, ready to celebrate the rebirth of two young moms and a National Guardsman. By all indications, a church had been rebirthed as well. Silverados and Sentras parked bumper to bumper. Just three years ago attendance under that very steeple could be counted on one hand.

There was a sermon, then a song of being whiter than snow, then the first came out. Her own white-as-snow baptismal robe floated through a fair share of those 200 gallons of water.

Some denominations would call her a candidate for baptism. Maybe that’s why she made such a good speech. The confession of her tongue filled the sanctuary, spelling out where a hard heart had gotten her and where a changed one is taking her. Ears in the pews perked up. Ears belonging to the saints and a family‘s black sheep and a seeker from another faith—we all listened, taking in a testimony that was more than talk. 

Then the preacher rolled up his sleeves and her silhouette dipped. The water sloshed. She came up smiling.

Another descended the steps. Her history of passing by that baptistry ran deep. But now she was on a new path, a narrow road. Standing there in the water, she said it loud and she said it for all to hear, that she wanted to follow Jesus.

There was a problem, though.

The preacher made light of it, asking the crowd, “Did John the Baptist have to deal with glasses?” She passed her pair over, then went under.

Next, the soldier made his own waves. With a mic to his mouth, he told it like it is—and like it was—wearing an obituary for all the world to read that said the old him is dead. A wife watching from a spot near stained glass knew his words were true, knew she liked being that kind of widow.

The soldier rose from the water, and the preacher wrapped things up, explaining that they were “just being obedient to the command found in the Scriptures.” Those three were left dripping, but no more than several cheeks in the congregation. I looked around hard in an effort to take it all in.

Because that old fiberglass baptistry, the one sporting the vintage blue? Well, it was back in use—in a very big way.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.


(Photo/Nola Baptist Church)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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