This was, as they say, the moment parent’s pray for. I just didn’t know it yet. The text came from Ben saying, “Please come up here (to the house), I need to talk to you.” Ok, with a 17 year old, this could potentially mean a lot of things. Thankfully, the ride up to the house from my office at the hospital is a very short ride so it didn’t give me much time to imagine what Ben might want to talk about. When I got home, Ben was in the living room crying and he told me that he had been reading scriptures and that he had gotten down on his knees and asked Christ to cleanse him of all of his sins. He said that Ephesians 2:4-5 was the verse that “got him” and convicted him of his need to do this. After crying awhile with him, I assured Him that, according to 1 John 1:9 that Jesus had in fact done exactly as he had asked and that Christ was faithful to “cleanse him from all unrighteousness.” I also told him that, according to Romans 10:9-10 that he needed to confess Christ to his friends and family. We then sent the text to Marinajo – who was down at the hospital working – that everything was ok, but to please come home as soon as she could. She came home and it is no stretch for those of you who know us to imagine that we cried a lot more. As parents, this was the moment that we had been praying for now for many many years. You may think that because we are missionaries that it is a foregone conclusion that our kids are just “saved by default” but nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it may be true that it is harder for MKs (Missionary Kids) and PKs (Preacher Kids) to get saved because they see so much of how their parents have struggled to serve God and how many mistakes we make as parents. Perhaps because of this, surrendering his heart to the Lord has been a long journey for Ben. We are so tremendously grateful that the Lord is patient with all of us as we seek Him!
Not so coincidentally, this all happened while our dear friends, the Rileys, were visiting Loma de Luz. Since this family had been such an encouragement to Ben over the years, he wanted to be baptized before they left and wanted both Jim Riley and I to baptize him. Ben and I had studied baptism together before, therefore Marinajo and I felt confident that he knew what it was and we had seen the clear evidence of God moving in Ben’s heart, so we enthusiastically agreed. On December 20th we had a wonderful gathering on the beach where Ben shared his testimony with our family of Loma de Luz missionaries. Then Jim and I took him out into the sea, just a little ways, and joyfully baptized him. There is a short video below and a longer video linked here. Thank you to all of our friends and family who have been praying for Ben for years and please don’t stop now – but please pray for Ben as he learns to walk with God in surrender to HIS will!
Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—