What is the legal age for one to become a born again Christian? I really want to know.
Once upon a time I was a born-again Christian. And sometimes this tiny piece of my life eludes my mind. I don’t know why, but it does. Maybe because I live in the city, far away from any reminder of that day and everything that happened.
But who can blame me! I was so young, and if I remember very well I was only eleven. I hadn’t planned for it and no one had prepared me for the whole thing. I remember mama laughing so loud when I told her about it, and then she was really pissed at my brother for taking me to “his church” and letting those people drag me through that ordeal, and went further to accuse him of scheming to steal me and the rest of my siblings from her – Catholic church.
I still recall that day and all the activities that took place; from the moment I joined that singing caravan headed to the river, to the moment I heard that pastor politely asking me to repeat some words after him which I obediently did.
Well, before everything happened, I had innocently followed Chris, my brother to this protestant church he had started attending like I did sometimes. You see, of all my brothers, Chris was my favorite, maybe because he was always at home with us unlike my other siblings. He never went away to the city to live there like Ben, who only came home during Christmas. Chris, up to this day hates the city and is more comfortable at home in the countryside helping mama with cattle when he got time.
I loved the church, their Sunday school was awesome and kids got a chance to perform before the whole congregation and it used to be fun. The church pastor too, was nice. He was my elder brother Ben’s friend and sometimes, before he became a pastor and got all too busy with the clergy work and the larger ministry, used to call on us sometimes and on numerous occasion helped me with my homework.
So when I heard that people were going out to a nearby river for baptism, I was super excited, and so were my friends and all the other kids at the church. I remember me and my friends excitedly running ahead of the rest of the group and even the elders found it hard keeping us from running into the road where they were afraid we could accidentally be run over by a car.
At the river, a large crowd had already gathered and more and more people were streaming in, which was somehow expected since the chosen place was at the bridge of the busy Busia-Mumias road. The event started and I stood safely at the riverbank on top of a rock, far away from the nearby bushes where a snake might be hiding – I’ve always dreaded snakes – and where I could have a clear view of all that was happening. I watched as the pastor with the help of some other members of the church, still with their suits on, dipped people into the river.
Watched as those dipped in the river and held under water for some minutes surfaced gasping for air and with horrified faces you would think they had run into ghosts of their long dead ancestors down there. It really scared me and I felt sorry for them. But it pissed me off more when I saw some mothers handing over their babies to endure the same ordeal the adults were going through.
I was beginning to regret why I went to that place in the first place and I was already thinking of a way to squeeze my tiny self through the mass of bodies and get away from that place when I saw some boys from the Sunday school wading through the water to go and get baptized as well, and soon even some of my friends were following suit. For some, the pastor prayed with before dipping them into the river while some he just went straight to dipping them and I didn’t understand why. I got curious.
My friends came out of the water looking deathly pale and with drenched clothes but smiling like they were some sort of heroes. I couldn’t be left out. I knew they would look down on me like some sissy and I was not ready to be anybody’s laughing-stock.
When I stepped into that green looking cold water on a bed full of slimy pebbles, it was more out of curiosity than just proving something to my friends. I wanted to know how it feels like being dipped under water, the excitement of it all when you finally get pulled out with lungs aching like they’re on fire. To be honest, the last thing I expected is to be “saved”.
“Oh, it’s you! Hallo Lazarus!” The pastor said, sweetly smiling down at me when he saw that it was me.
I deeply inhaled and stood there shaking like a banana in wind, waiting to be immersed into the river just like Jesus in River Jordan, but after mumbling some words I couldn’t understand, the pastor looked up to my brother who was in the crowd standing beside a choir singing praise songs. I think he nodded because then the pastor asked me if I would love to be Jesus’ friend, and I said yes.
“…I accept you to be my personal savior.”
After repeating the short prayer after him, he said I was now born again, and with his helper dipped me in the river, like twice (not really sure).
And now sitting here, after all these years, I don’t know if the pastor’s efforts and prayers were worth it. I don’t even remember any of it – the words he asked me to repeat after him, and I don’t live or even act like a born again Christian at all. I can’t even recall the last time I was in church. It makes me wonder if it was okay for the pastor to convert me at such an age, and if it’s legal to convert an underage person into your faith.
And that’s why today I’m asking if there’s a legal age allowed for one to be born again or converted to a certain faith. Not like I’m on a mission to sue the pastor and his church. I’m just trying to understand if God might hold it against me for not living up to my end of the agreement.