Today’s article by Brother Rich Nath is another installment in the series, “The Day He Found Me.”
June 20, 1993, GMBA Campout at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA. That’s the day the Lord called me. The story actually begins the day before. Someone told me, “You know, they preach baptism at camp.” I laughed and said, “That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I’m going to play football with the guys.” The priorities of a 15-year-old aren’t always what we would hope them to be. I admit that when I left for camp that Saturday afternoon, baptism was nowhere near the top of my priority list.
Sunday morning at camp, we had a very nice meeting, and the young people sang a few songs. The only one I remember was, “A New Name Written Down in Glory.” Throughout the day, that song stuck with me, but I didn’t think anything of it. It was a catchy tune, and I kept humming it. We had dinner, and I got ready for the evening meeting.
Brother Brian Smith opened the service, and I can honestly say I have no idea what he spoke on — but the Spirit of God fell on me like it never had before. Mind you, the first time I felt it was a couple years before at a Pennsylvania Area Campout, but that was nothing like this. I was crying and shaking, and I kept praying and asking God if this was my time.
They opened the meeting for testimony, and I got up and gave mine for the first time. I rambled on about something, but in my heart I was looking for the Lord’s direction. I asked for prayer but didn’t say it was because I was contemplating baptism. When the elders encircled me, Brother Brian prayed. His prayer was exactly what I was asking for. The Holy Ghost inspired him and gave him the thoughts of my heart because he addressed every one of them. I sat back in my seat, and as the meeting was about to close, I leaned to a brother sitting next to me and said, “I think I’m going to ask for my baptism.” He said something that I’ll never forget: “If you can picture Christ on the cross and say no, then you’re not ready.” There was no way that I could do that.
So, as the closing prayer was offered, I was praying that God would stop me somehow if this wasn’t His will. I remember saying something like have the lights go out or the fire alarm go off, anything that would stop me if it wasn’t what He wanted me to do. The prayer concluded and nothing had happened to prevent me from making my request. So I made a beeline to the front of the room and told the brothers I wanted to be baptized.
Priorities had changed just a little from a day earlier.
Since my family was not at camp, I waited a whole week before my baptism. I was a little torn as to whom to ask to take me into the water. I was really close with and considered Brother Brian and Brother Jonathan Olexa spiritual fathers. The Spirit directed me to Brother Jonathan, who, along with his family, was gracious enough to stay in Western Pennsylvania a few days longer than planned before heading back to New Jersey. So, on Sunday, June 27, 1993, I went into the Monongahela River and had my sins washed away. We went back to the Monongahela Branch where I was confirmed. And, as the Lord would have it, both my spiritual fathers would partake in the day as Brother Brian confirmed me. A new name was written down in glory, and it was mine. Oh yes, it was mine!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.