By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
Baptisms always are special time in the life of a minister, but they were an extra special memory one recent Sunday for two Louisiana Baptist pastors.
Josh Adams, pastor of Pisgah Baptist in Forest Hill, and Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Bossier, not only baptized a higher than average number but each baptized one of their own children.
Adams baptized his son Jace on June 14 while Jurkovich baptized his daughter Catherine on July 19.
“There’s no greater feeling in the world for a pastor to be in the baptismal waters baptizing others,” Adams said. “But to baptize your own son is emotional and so rewarding for everything you’ve been through.”
Jurkovich echoed the thought.
“My daughter had gone to kids camp and told me that she got it more now than ever and was ready,” Jurkovich said. “As a dad and pastor, it’s a wonderful moment to share with your church family. For her it was cool to have all of her fifth grader friends there cheering for her.”
Both congregations have embraced baptisms in 2015.
For the past three years, Pisgah Baptist has averaged 10 baptisms. But this year, this congregation that averages 70 on a Sunday morning has baptized 12 people, 10 of which came in June and July.
The rise in baptisms is a far cry from the 41 people total baptized at the church from 1999 to 2010.
Adams attributes the rise in baptisms to a greater presence in the community.
Though the church members were highly involved in national mission efforts and discipleship, they were missing an important element – ministry in their own community. The church began to plan how it might minister better in that area, which included a free soccer camp coordinated by GOLA, a team of Baptist Collegiate Ministry student team from different colleges travel around the state who also put on Vacation Bible Schools. Additionally, the church held its own VBS the week following the soccer camp.
The result was 68 students who attended the soccer camp, including nine who accepted Christ. Three of those new believers were baptized at Pisgah Baptist, with others taking part in baptism at other churches.
During the VBS, the church saw its largest VBS attendance in 14 years. Through that outreach, 19 students came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, with five following through with baptism at Pisgah and another five going through baptism at other churches.
In addition to soccer camp and VBS, Pisgah Baptist also has taken students to youth camp, holding revivals, and ministering to those in the community in various ways.
“We have learned that loving on people makes a difference,” Adams said. “God is blessing these efforts as He changes our hearts. We understand that people do not care what we know, until they know that we care. All we have been doing is loving on this community and being a part of what God is already doing.”
Meanwhile, First Bossier held two baptismal services on July 19.
Jurkovich baptized five people, including his daughter, during the morning service and another 17 that evening at Splash Kingdom Water Park in Shreveport.
Jurkovich said the church schedules baptisms once a month. Since they already had a family night planned at Splash Kingdom, Jurkovich said the staff felt it was only fitting to hold a baptism event there.
“It was a different environment than the sanctuary,” Jurkovich said. “Kids and adults alike thought it was a really cool moment.”
Among those baptized were Torrance Harvin and his wife. After Harvin was baptized, his wife indicated that she was a Christian but never had followed through with believer’s baptism.
“It’s a new start of life,” Torrance Harvin said of the next step in baptism. “I get a second chance to get it right, to work on myself as God’s man and not an earthly man. And with that, I can sit at His feet and not in the heat.”
Through the first week in August , 171 people have been baptized at First Bossier. Jurkovich expects more to follow as excitement continues to build throughout the congregation.
“It has been awesome to see what Jesus is doing in the lives of students and adults,” Jurkovich said. “The baptism t-shirts we wear say I AM NEW. We are all made new in Christ. And baptism tells that story time and time again.”