Larry asked us if he could get baptized back in January. He comes to the dinner church regularly and we wanted to get to know him before we performed his public demonstration of new life. Over the next few months Larry would tell us that the devil was following him and telling him to do crazy things. I thought he might be addicted to meth and was being paranoid. I also believe in the spiritual reality of Jesus and that the battle for the soul is real. People on the street are often in-tune with the unseen world and understand the battle between good and evil. However, mental health issues can often distort reality in both the natural and supernatural. After many conversations, it became clear that Larry wanted to know how to deal with demonic activity in his life. “This guy came up to me on the bus and his face looked like a ghost. Then, I was walking down the street and I heard a voice tell me to walk in-front of the bus. It seems like the devil is after me.” I told Larry that I thought God was after him! I told him to play worship music and read scripture out loud. The words of the Bible are living and active and there is power in the name of Jesus. We prayed and ate some lasagna.
It’s a steamy hot day in the parking lot of the Salvation Army woman’s shelter. We are eating fried rice out of togo boxes. Some of us are practicing social distancing. Someone is drinking a twelve pack of Bud Ice at the bus stop. My friend James tells me I look like the combination of a referee and a priest. We all laugh, and I am flattered. We hand out masks and Larry’s ready to announce to the world that he wants to follow Christ. He is ready to get baptized. The dinner church community looks on as we read Colossians 2:14 from The Passion Translation, “He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all – our sins, our stained soul – he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto the cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.” We ask him the traditional baptism questions. He answers yes and we poor a pitcher of water over his head. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!” The community yells congratulations and we praise God. I hand Larry his official baptism certificate and his smile looks like it’s going to hurt in the morning! Larry thanks me five times and leaves saying, “I can’t wait to tell everybody!”