Today’s account of the Campbell Camels’ illustrious adventures in the Holy Land will come in two parts. First, several of our group chose to be baptized in the Jordan River as a reaffirmation and testimony of their faith in Christ. I wanted to include all of their pictures for friends and family back home, so that will constitute the first blog, with the second describing other activities of the day.
Note: usually the photos in these blogs can be enlarged by clicking on them. Because of a really slow Internet signal here in Jerusalem, I have reduced the resolution significantly to make the pictures smaller and easier to upload, but then they don’t have enough pixels to expand. I can provide higher resolution pictures by email when we get back, if requested. Of course, nearly all of our “pilgrims” will have their own pictures, too.
The baptismal place called “Yardenit” was actually our second stop of the day, but since most groups use it in the afternoon, we had the site largely to ourselves. Yardenit is many miles north of the site where Jesus was baptized, but due to low water levels there – and the fact that Jesus was almost certainly baptized on the Jordanian side – Israel’s primary baptism site for pilgrims is located just south of where the Jordan emerges from the Sea of Galilee. Benches have been built into the hill beside the river, and walkways with banisters lead into the water.
Our service began with singing, after which Al Turner spoke from the story of Philip baptizing the Ethopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). As those who were participating in the baptism moved to the water, we sang “I Went Down to the River to Pray.”
Dr. Andy Wakefield then baptized David Vesper, a Freewill Baptist pastor who is a student at Campbell,
and David then baptized his son Josh.
Dr. Wakefield then baptized Annie Purser-Lee, whose husband Bryan is a student at CUDS,
Sara Kirk, a recent graduate,
Shameka Coleman, a current student, and Powell Dew, a pastor and student in the DMin program. Tony Hodges, husband of student Joyce Hodges, was also baptized, but unfortunately we didn’t get his picture.
I then had the honor of baptizing Donnell King, whose wife Genoble is a student at CUDS.
While baptizing, we stood on the edge of a concrete platform that had been built into the water, with a sharp drop-off and some very large stones just behind us. Minnows nibbled at our feet, and the current was surprisingly strong, making it a challenge to get some of the larger folk out of the water once we got them in. Experience is a good teacher, and next time we will remember to follow David’s example and baptize right-handed.
All in all, the time at Yardenit was an inspiring and encouraging element of our time in Israel: we went down to the river to pray, and more …
[Special thanks to Janice Haywood for using my camera to take these photos so I could post them, even though I’m sure she would have preferred to use her own.]