Baptisms on the Beach

February 10, 2013 • Haiti

Children at the Greta Home and Academy in Haiti are baptized after confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior

Thirty-nine boys and girls walked onto the sand of Jax Beach, their voices joined together in song: “Lead me to the water so I can be baptized.”

Each child had made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ, and were declaring this decision to the world as they prepared to enter the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean on a warm Saturday in February.

GiveThey were from the Greta Home and Academy, a safe haven where orphaned and needy children receive the care of mentors, quality education, and spiritual support. The facility, built by Samaritan’s Purse in Léogâne, was named after Greta Van Susteren, host of On the Record on the Fox News Channel, for her advocacy of the Haitian people after the 2010 earthquake.

Pastor Samuel Jean-Louis, who leads Sunday morning services at the home, read from Romans 6:3-7 as the children took off their shoes and prepared to be dipped into the ocean waters.

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Twenty-six of them prayed to receive Christ as their Savior through The Greatest Journey , the follow-up discipleship program to Operation Christmas Child. The others took that step of faith through church attendance or devotions at the Greta Home.

“We have found joy in teaching them about God,” said Pastor Kenol Despinasse, teacher of The Greatest Journey curriculum. “These children will be our successors and will bring the Gospel to the world after us.”

Jeff Moise, 14, was among the new believers. He was living in a tent with his mother, brother Duckens, and his sister a year after the earthquake. His father died of an illness when he was very young, and his mother struggled to provide for her children. She made the difficult decision to take the two boys to the Greta Home.

He decided to be baptized through the influence of the Bible lessons at the home.

“When I look at what Jesus Christ has done in my life, I wonder how He could love me so much to put me in this home,” he said.

He and his brother were both baptized by Pastor Pierre Julien, leader of Samaritan’s Purse ministry programs in Haiti.

After coming out of the water, Jeff said, “Today is a great day because I am living a new life.”

Valeze, 16, was another one of the children who was baptized. He also did not have a father active in his life and lived in poverty. He often went to school hungry because there was no food at home. He didn’t have the books or supplies needed to do his studies.

At the Greta Home, he receives everything he needs to grow and learn. Pastor Kenol led him to Christ through The Greatest Journey lessons. Since then, Valeze has been helping lead morning devotions and praying with and encouraging the other children.

“I hope that my life will be a success,” he said. “I don’t want to do bad things. I want to do good work in the world and follow Christ.”

The day before the ceremony, Valeze encouraged another one of the boys, Kenylove, to be baptized too. Through his influence, Kenylove decided to join the other children in this important step.

Pastor Pierre said baptism is not just about being obedient; it’s a symbol of what takes place in the heart and is a public declaration of being united with Christ.

“I believe these kids are the future of this country,” he said. “If we invest in them and plant the seeds of God’s love in their hearts, raise them with a Christian worldview, and teach them the Word of God, they will truly become the leaders this country needs. So we believe we have an opportunity to develop the next generation of Christian leaders that will take Haiti to new heights.”

Penny Fairo, Executive Director of the Greta Home and Academy, has already witnessed major change in the lives of the children. Not just physically through nutritious meals, but also socially with the other children and spiritually.

“It’s been really wonderful to see how different they are now from when they were living among the rubble that was here after the earthquake,” she said. “It’s been quite a change.”

After the baptism ceremony, the kids sang songs together, prayed, and then jumped into the ocean for a swim.

As the sun began to set, Penny led a closing prayer.

“Lord we thank you for this day, that we could share this beautiful time with you. We know the angels in heaven are celebrating.”