“Do you want to be baptized?” That was the question that set in motion the journey to baptism at the Inter-American Division’s 5th Pathfinder Camporee for sisters Jayden and Jamelia Stephens.
It was the early Sabbath morning baptism which happened at approximately 6:40 am that inspired one of their club officers to ask the sisters the all-important question. With certainty and delight, both sisters aged 12 and 16, answered in the affirmative. When asked about their mother’s approval for their baptism, the sisters informed the officer that their mother was in support of their decision. Director of the Falchion Pathfinder Club, Jodian Gooden-Sinclair was immediately informed by the officer of the desire of the Pathfinders for baptism. The Pathfinder Club director wasted no time, right there in the stadium during the baptism, she immediately called the mother of the girls to seek her permission for her daughters baptism.
The joy and eagerness of the director and club officers seated with her was however dampened by what transpired during the telephone conversation. Although the mother of the sisters was willing to allow her daughters to get baptized, their father was not convinced that the time was right. The mother of the girls allowed him to speak with the Pathfinder Club director, but he was adamant that he would not grant permission until he believed that they were ready, and the time was right. This was not the first time that Jayden and Jamelia had requested baptism, in fact, bible counsellors from their local church were in dialogue with the girl’s parents about the baptism of their daughters just weeks prior to the Camporee during an evangelistic series.
With this added information and the eternal implications of this decision, the small group of club officers who were aware of the situation were not yet ready to give up. Elder and Chaplain of the club, Beverley Rose decided that she would call the parents again after the service to encourage them to reconsider granting permission for their daughter’s baptism. Communication leader of Stadium Community Seventh-day Adventist Church, Dameesha Perrin realized that the most important call to make at that moment was a call to heaven; she quickly sent out a notice via WhatsApp to the officers of the church informing them of the situation and requesting prayer.
By this time during the service, the baptism had ended and Pastor Busi Khumalo, Youth Ministries Director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist, was making an appeal for other pathfinders who desired baptism to walk from the stands to the baptismal pool to signify their decision to give their lives to Christ. Despite not having permission from their parents, the sisters were encouraged to make the walk as a confirmation of their decision to give their hearts to Jesus. With boldness and determination, both sisters got up from their seats in the stands and took their walk for Christ across the field of the stadium towards the baptismal pool. The atmosphere at the poolside for the girls was emotional as tears flowed from their eyes. The club officers who accompanied them could not hold back their tears as they rejoiced with them for their decision.
It was this bold walk of faith that opened the way of victory for Jayden and Jamelia. The service which was streamed live via YouTube was being viewed by their parents. By God’s divine providence, the camera captured the sisters walking together towards the pool during the appeal. When their parents viewed this, it moved their hearts to grant the approval for their daughter’s baptism.
“Tell my girls congrats” read the message that was sent to the Pathfinder Club director via WhatsApp, “let them know dad is not upset, we saw the video, they [have made] the right move [and] I know you will guide them.” This message was received just 36 minutes after the message for prayer was sent out.
While the atmosphere of the baptism was joyful from the beginning, the rejoicing transformed into jubilation for the 26 member delegation representing the Falchion Pathfinder Club and other members of the Stadium Community Seventh-day Adventist Church as word of the story spread.
Jayden and Jamelia took the plunge for Jesus and were baptized in the last baptism of the 5th Inter-American Division Pathfinder Camporee in the afternoon on Sabbath April 8 by their local church Pastor, Sadekie Beckford. Their parents were able to get a poolside view of the baptism via video call while fellow Pathfinders and officers from their club supported them at the poolside.
There are important takeaways from this experience for various members of the Falchion Pathfinder Club. For Elder Beverley Rose, Master Guide and Club chaplain, she knows from experience the importance of parents allowing their children to be baptized when they request baptism at an early age. She has witnessed what can be the result when children are denied the privilege of baptism when they first make the request; later in their life some of these children completely lose interest in committing their lives to God. For Dameesha Perrin, Master Guide and former club director, her takeaway is the importance of following the prompting of the Holy Spirit and asking our Pathfinders the right questions about their relationship with God and matters relating to salvation.
“I believe that the entire experience would not have been a reality had the girls not been asked that simple but very important question.” Club Director and Master Guide, Jodian Gooden-Sinclair celebrates God being a strategic God who answers prayer. “I have learnt to trust God in all circumstances and this was an opportunity to exercise my faith, and I wasn’t disappointed as God has once again proved himself to be strategic and an on time God!”
For the entire club that celebrates with Jayden and Jamelia, they understand with greater meaning Romans 8:28. They have experienced God bringing forth victory even amid tragedy and disappointment. An incident on the first day of camp which resulted to the injury of one of their members which lead to two club members not being able to attend the Camporee had somewhat dampened their spirits, but for them, this experience of victory cancels any disappointment or tragedy and make all the challenges faced and experienced in attending the camporee worth it after all, because they have proven that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”