Six months ago, Caleb asked to be baptized. As with Micah Man in 2010, we decided to wait for our team’s retreat. The retreat setting at Mt. Amanzi allowed us the opportunity to have our entire team present for this special event. In addition, it gave us time to share with Caleb the meaning of baptism and to ascertain his readiness for this faith confirming step in his life.
When John asked Caleb on October 2, 2013, the day of his baptism, why he wanted to be baptized, Caleb replied in front of our OC Africa team and our OC mission pastors, Ralph and Joyce Anderson, “Because I love Jesus and I want to follow Him.”
Caleb chose verses for some of our teammates to read in honor of his baptism.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 1 Timothy 1: 9-10 NIV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4 NIV
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV
And Micah read Caleb’s favorite verse of all…
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV
Caleb asked our teammates Scott and Jay to pray for him.
Finally, it was time! Caleb ran up the grassy hill embankment to the outdoor pool. He was so excited!
Caleb literally danced into the cold water. As the team assembled by the pool side, we watched Caleb become accustomed to the water. Next, John descended into the water to baptize his son.
As the time drew near for the baptism, the cold water temperatures drowned Caleb’s senses. Being on the autism spectrum, Caleb’s senses are heightened and can sometimes become overwhelming. His excitement to be baptized changed to dread. He lunged at John and held on to his dad.
This caused many of us to chuckle. When Caleb heard the laughter, he held onto his dad even tighter. No one was laughing at Caleb, but rather in compassion and empathy. I can tell you that no one else from our team wanted to be in the frigid water, including me.
However, Caleb’s perception at the time made him feel a bit of shame. He held onto his dad even tighter and burrowed his head into his dad’s shoulder.
John then asked his youngest son, “Caleb, do you want me to go under the water with you?”
There have been many significant times when I have been in awe of my husband’s love for our children and for me. October 2, 2013 was another one of those days. John handed his glasses to one of our teammates and then prepared Caleb and himself to go under the water; together. This generous act symbolized to us all the Father’s love for every one of us.
John walked a little deeper into the water with his son. Together, they plunged into the water and they emerged even colder and wetter. Caleb cried.
More often than not, we see people emerge from their baptismal waters with huge, grateful grins on their faces. That wasn’t Caleb’s experience. The cold water hurt him. Honestly, how many of us would feel the same way in frigid waters?
After Caleb was dried off and John had an opportunity to debrief the experience with him, John related that Caleb had a far greater understanding of the meaning of baptism and the death of Jesus Christ on the cross than most. For Jesus Christ, the cross brought pain and death. There was ridicule and laughter. For Caleb, the water caused him temporary pain. The empathetic laughter caused Caleb to misunderstand its meaning. For both Jesus Christ and our sweet son, Caleb, they still chose to die to themselves for the glory and honor of their God and Father.
We are proud of our son and the deliberate choice he made to follow his Savior out of love, obedience and gratitude. Way to Go, Caleb! We love you very much. Your Lord and Savior loves you too!