BAPTISM CELEBRATIONS IN BRISTOL
27th July 2017
Bristol Central Church was once again rejoicing on Sabbath, 15 July, as five people made a public declaration of faith to follow Christ, as they were baptised in front of a packed church of friends and family. The candidates ranged from 10 years old to a man in his 70’s.
One of the candidates was actually responsible for the selected date of the baptism, as 11 year old Michaela Gibbons had asked Bristol District Pastor Royston Smith the previous year, whether she could be baptised on her birthday. Michaela was all the more excited as she realised that when you’re baptised, it’s your Christian birthdayas you are ‘born again’, so it was in fact, a double birthday celebration.
One of the other candidates was Orlando Victor, a young man of 21, who currently has an American Football scholarship in Texas, USA. In a moving testimony, his mother, Angela Victor, explained how he had become increasingly disturbed by demonic influences in his dormitory.
Physically and mentally exhausted from lack of sleep, he would call his mother at 4.00 am and be on the phone for two hours. She advised him to immediately tear down the posters and get rid of them well away from the campus, and then make other changes such as changing his choice of music, (hip hop) to Christian music, and to read his Bible more.
It took a further four months of intercessory prayer and fasting, from Angela and a number of close friends, who prayed in various prayer groups, for protection for Orlando, to make the demonic spirits weak and powerless over him, but the more they prayed, the more they attacked. In the end, the victory was won by the grace of God. The demons were gone, and Orlando was left in peace.
After such a dramatic experience, Orlando was determined to make his stand for the Lord, and get baptised in his home town. Speaking after the service, just before returning to the USA, Orlando said that it was a "Great relief and feeling to be baptised, and that he was looking forward to a much “better spiritual connection", and that it meant a lot having "my family and my friends here and really dedicating myself to the Lord".
The first of two candidates who would be joining the South Bristol church, was Patrick Flynn, a white British man in his 70’s. His story demonstrated the power of individual influence and witness. He explained how he just happened to meet one of the church members at the bus stop across the street from the church. She invited him over to join in the worship, but he said he was going shopping, but that he would come back afterwards. He did, and he enjoyed it and kept coming since. He has regularly asked questions, and is learning a lot, saying that in terms of being a Bible student, the others are far ahead of him.
He said, following the baptism, that despite being very nervous about going into the water, he "thoroughly enjoyed it." He says to his friends now, that "I’m the only white person in there, but don’t knock it. In the church, it’s completely different, like a different family altogether."
Fortune Owoeye, was also joining South Bristol Church. A young man of 10, he, like Michaela, had been asking to be baptised for some time. His parents were cautious and wanted to make sure he knew what he was doing. His father, Cornelius Owoeye, said "I’m very happy to see him give his life to God. For over a year now, he has been trying to get baptised, and we tried to slow him down, study with him, to make sure he knew what he was going into, and now I am confident he does, I’m really happy and proud. As a father, when you see your children growing in the house of God, you feel really happy about it and excited".
Fortune said "It feels good to be in the hands of the Lord. My life has completely changed. I’ve been studying with my family, and every morning we sing and study the Bible".
The final candidate was Daniel Adjei, a 16-year-old from North Bristol church. He was brought up in the church, and although his parents were concerned about possible confusion from receiving values from home and influences from the world, William Adjei, Daniel’s father said "I’m very happy, because of one of my children has surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ”. Referring to Daniel’s age, William went on to say that 16 was a “critical age, when young people are so vulnerable to peer influence, so when we heard of Daniel’s decision to be baptised, it was a source of joy for us", as he and his wife had been praying for all their children to surrender their lives to Jesus, voluntarily.
Daniel put it this way "It feels good to be part of the church family. It felt like the right time".
All the candidates had their own story and experience to tell, whether it was being brought up in the church and making their personal decision to commit themselves to the Lord, being away from home in a foreign country and finding themselves under attack, or having had no previous contact with the church, and taking the opportunity when it arose.
Throughout the baptism, Pastor Smith was assisted by Pastor Richard Daly, BUC Communications Director. It was a particular delight to have Pastor Daly take part, as he was a former intern and District Pastor in Bristol, and knew many of the candidates or their families. He and his family stayed the whole day, having preached in the morning. Interviewed after the service, Pastor Daly said "It’s always a joy to come back to Bristol Central. This is my first church and where it all started for me. I’ve got so many friendships here. It’s always got a special place for me here.” Pastor Daly also recalled that he conducted his first ever baptism in the Bristol Central baptismal pool.
The sermon for the candidates was presented by Elder Brenda Sabadin, who gave the candidates the same charge she had received at her own baptism 57 years ago; a famous quote from Ellen White, "The greatest want of the world is the want of men (or women) - men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall".
Pastor Smith commented on the proceedings, saying "he was excited about working with the young people, and seeing growth in people like Michaela."
The whole church gathered after the service to greet and welcome the new members, and encourage them to remain strong, now they had made their decision for Christ.
A selection of photographs, taken by Michael Brown, are available at