It had been a long hot summer! Field crops looked terrible. Their yield would be so low some farmers would not break even to pay for seed and fertilizer. Farm ponds were mud holes, small creeks were dry beds and larger streams were running very low and slow. It was now mid-September, and it was still hot and dry.
There was not a coat to be seen that morning at the worship service. And the funeral home paper fans got a real work out. The preacher may have even taken one into the pulpit! The sermon had to do with, “The Ten Virgins.” The attendance was 47.
That night, to the preacher’s delight, there were 50 present. The sermon was, “The New Testament Church — And Its Identity.” The sermon was concluded and the invitation was extended. As the congregation stood to sing, a small boy began to edge his way from the back up the outside isle. He was so small and young I did not take his movement very serious. In fact it went through my mind that he was easing up closer to an exit so he could get outside the moment the “Amen” was said. But much to my surprise, when he got to the front row, he turn and came to stand directly in front of me. I responded by saying, “Did you want something, sonny?” Much to my surprise he said, “Yes, I want to be baptized.” I have never believed in “infant baptism” so I asked, “How old are you?” The boy answered that he was nine-years old. I really was not acquainted with the boy and was not sure what to do next. So, I turned to an elder standing in the second row and asked if he thought we should baptize him. The Elder hesitated and then said, “That’s his grandmother standing right over there. Ask what she thinks.” The grandmother responded that he was a good boy and that he read his Bible and understood the plan of salvation. She had talked with him and felt it would be all right. The elder responded, “If she says its ok, it’s ok.”
Having settled that, now came the question as to where we would baptize him. Several brethren spoke up but no one had an answer. All the places where we usually baptized were dried up! Then I looked down and the little fellow had his hand up. Again I said, “Did you want something, sonny?” This time he responded that he had anticipated this problem, so Saturday afternoon he had walked the creek and found a place deep enough to be baptized! I was startled, amazed, and relieved. I told the brethren that if this young fellow had enough forethought to go and search out a place where he could be immersed, he must be more mature than we had supposed.
We drove some distance from the church building, through a farm gate, across the pasture field and up to the creek bank. All the while we had followed the boy’s instructions. When we got out of our cars, he led us further down the creek and sure enough, there was a low spot where the water was perhaps two-feet-deep. We took his confession and baptized him. We had a dismissal prayer and we all drove off, disappearing into the approaching darkness.
I continued to preach there from time to time and then after awhile I pretty much lost contact with that church. Over the years I could not get that young fellow out of my mind. He was so young! He was so little. Did he really know enough to be baptized? Should we have tried to put him off till he was a little older? Did we do the right thing? Was he still attending services?
Then about seven years later, I was invited back to preach a meeting there. As I drove that Monday on the way to the meeting, that boy came to mind again! When I arrived at the building I was greeted by a number of the brethren that I had known in past years. After a brief, hello, my first question was “What ever became of that little nine-year-old boy that we baptized?” The brethren turned and scanned the church yard. Then one said, “See that 6 foot, 200 pound fellow standing over there — that’s him.” He never misses a service! What a joyful relief that was!