By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PONCHATOULA, La. (LBM) – Sadie Laird, 9, recently made a special declaration of hope Christ that was two years in the making. Since 2018, Laird’s parents, extended family and children’s leaders at First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula had poured biblical truth into the youngster and on March 8 their spiritual harvest came to fruition when she said “Yes!” to Jesus.
ONWARD, DESPITE COVID-19
Importantly, Laird was anxious to move ahead in her obedience to God by being baptized.
So, surrounded by a few family members and church staff, March 22, in a worship service that was only seen through the church’s Facebook page because of attendance restrictions by the state in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Laird walked down into the baptistery waters inside the First Baptist worship center that was nearly empty of members but filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Trusting Christ means I get to live with Jesus,” Laird told the Baptist Message.
Her grandmother, Ann, added that Sadie woke up the morning of the baptism beaming with excitement.
“She hadn’t quit smiling since she woke up this morning,” Ann noted the day of the baptism.
Pastor David Cranford, also president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, noted the circumstances were not the most ideal situation for a baptism, but that Laird did not want to delay sharing her public testimony. Laird is among three new converts who have been baptized since January.
“We decided to go ahead with Sadie’s baptism because it was still very much public since it was livestreamed and certainly a great testimony to faith in Jesus when so many are searching for an anchor,” he said. “Today, we cannot touch each other, but we are not out of touch. We actually have an online opportunity like never before to reach people for Jesus.
“There is a natural openness to the Gospel in days of crisis like these,” he continued. “With time on their hands, people begin asking questions and thinking about issues of life and death and life after death. But because of technology, the world is wide open to hear the Gospel.
“The Roman world was open to the Gospel due to roads, relative peace, and a common language and culture,” Cranford continued. “The book of Acts records the persecuted early church taking advantage of the openness of their day, going on their way ‘preaching the message of Good News,’ as told in Acts 8:4. That’s my prayer for Louisiana Baptists – that we will take advantage of the openness of our day, that as we go on our digital way, we will preach the message of good news and that many will come to Jesus.”
Like other churches, First Baptist has been forced to great creative in its ministry efforts.
Throughout the week, members have used technology to help them grow deeper in their relationship with Christ and each other through one of 16 adult, nine youth and six children’s small groups who have met through the Zoom video conferencing platform.
Staff members also have maintained connections to members and prospects by reaching out to them through daily social media, e-mail, text messaging and phone calls.
Additionally, the church has posted on its Facebook page staff-authored devotionals and a daily Bible study, “Crisis 101: Back to the Basics” by author Robert Morgan.
“Technology is a way of making private declarations public,” Minister of discipleship Josh Dickson said. “Let’s be the church even if we can’t gather corporately, all in one room.”