A long, often broken road led 26-year-old Cate Nading to Jesus.
A single mom of two young children, she had been away from church a long time.
Looking back, it was no accident that Southeast Christian Church elder Ted Weaver talked with her at work and invited her to a worship service at the Blankenbaker Campus. He told her that God loves her and has a plan for her life. It seemed both crazy and hopeful at the same time, but she came and found Jesus.
Weaver baptized her Feb. 16, and that day changed everything.
“I felt like I’d been cleansed of all toxins,” Nading said. “Jesus has been fighting for me a long time. It’s like I’m still in the newlywed phase, striving to be the best I can be. I still struggle, but my Savior is by my side every step of the way.”
In 2019, 1,156 people were baptized at a Southeast campus or event.
Each one stepping into the water has their own story of deciding to follow Jesus. It’s a dad baptizing his daughter. A woman or man baptizing a coworker. Neighbors baptizing neighbors. Friends baptizing friends. An ex-con baptizing someone he knew in prison. A husband baptizing a wife. A fiancée baptizing her soon-to-be-husband. They are all ages and from all walks of life.
Anything that happens a thousand times can become ordinary.
Weaver and his wife Marilyn have been decision guides for more than 20 years. He describes serving as a calling, a privilege to shepherd people through their decision to follow Jesus and be baptized. They hear their stories and calm their nerves.
There is one unforgettable story after another.
>A young lady on the East Coast picked up a book in her hospital room after a failed suicide attempt. She began reading “not a fan” by Kyle Idleman. When she returned to Louisville and got a new job, her boss told her more about Jesus, invited her to church and baptized her a few weeks ago.
>A couple starting a new life as a blended family wanted to start their marriage by seeking God first in baptism. They got married the same weekend.
>Men and women who were petrified of water gingerly stepped into the baptistry because Jesus meant more to them than their fear.
>Men mobilized to carry those who are unable to walk into the baptistry.
>Those who were sprinkled as children decided to be baptized as adults to declare they made a decision to follow Jesus.
Each week is a huge celebration.
“I don’t ever want to lose the excitement of what Jesus is doing in life to get them here,” said Matt Robison, a pastor at the Blankenbaker Campus. “We never want to take this for granted.”
Blankenbaker Campus Pastor Neal Gossett said listening to stories between worship services is one of his favorite parts of ministry.
“A few weeks ago, I met a woman who came to be baptized because her manager began talking to her about Jesus,” Gossett said. “What that manager didn’t know is that before those conversations, this woman had decided to end her life. It is an incredible example of how God is always at work in people’s lives.”
Gossett said he is always impressed with those who sacrifice to be baptized.
“We get to baptize seniors on oxygen, those who are afraid of water, those who are afraid to be in front of a crowd,” he said. “That’s a privilege. I never advise people to wait another week.”
Mason Bramer, who works in Men’s Ministry at Southeast, serves in the baptistry about once a month.
“One week there was a young girl baptized by her mother, a man baptized by a friend who led him to the Lord after a round of golf, a young woman who chose a friend with special needs to baptize her. It’s all a picture of disciples making disciples. That excites me every week.”
Baptism is available at every Southeast campus even though services are not being held at campuses due to the coronavirus.
For information on baptism, visit www.southeastchristian.org and contact your individual campus.
Making the decision to be baptized is both serious and simple. It’s a come-as-you-are moment. You don’t need extra clothes or a hair dryer, a speech or to have your life together.
“Baptism was the start of a new beginning,” Nading said. “I was full of joy and relief—a fresh, clean slate. I’m not perfect, but I’m all in.”