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100-year-old’s baptism ‘best thing that’s happened to me in years’

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (BP)–It was a time when a T-bone steak cost 15 cents and 100 pounds of sugar were sold for $4, a time when walking was the mode of transportation and a large percentage of America’s population lived on a farm. It was the turn of the century, 100 years ago, Jan. 28, 1900, when Lorena Garlington was born on a farm near Corsicana, Texas. It was Dec. 5, 1999, when Lorena was led into the baptismal waters at the Huntington Beach Baptist Church in California.

Lorena says she became convicted of her sins at an early age and placed her faith in Jesus Christ to save her while she was a young girl attending First Baptist Church of Corsicana, but she was never baptized following her conversion.

“I wish I could remember why I was never baptized,” she says, her voice still strong despite her age, “but it was so long ago. I do remember thinking it was something I was supposed to do.”

That nagging feeling of needing to follow the Lord in baptism followed her for many years, even after she married Frank Roberts in 1926 and began attending the Catholic church with him. However, she explains, “I always said it wasn’t the church that would get anyone to heaven.”

After the death of her husband, Lorena moved to Huntington Beach, Calif., and eventually remarried. Since her children were grown by this time, she says she dedicated her life “to helping other people whenever they needed help.” It didn’t matter what needed to be done — cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, paying bills — whenever Lorena saw a need, she tried to meet it. She admits she wasn’t attending church very much during these years, but she never failed to read her Bible and pray.

“My mother read her Bible all the time,” she remembers, “and this is just something I enjoy doing also. I’ve read it through many times.” As the years went by and her second husband passed away, Lorena moved into the Wycliffe Gardens Retirement Center, where she began attending a Wednesday afternoon Bible class taught by Gerald Squyres of Huntington Beach Baptist Church.

“I really felt like something was missing in my life,” she confesses. She spoke with Squyres about her earlier conversion and admitted she felt she needed to follow the Lord in baptism, even though it had been nearly 90 years since she had made a commitment to the Lord.

“I’ve struggled with this for so long. It’s always bothered me,” Lorena told the pastor, “because I know the Bible says you should be baptized.”

Lorena was baptized six weeks before her 100th birthday. Squyres remembers Lorena’s words when she came up out of the water, “She said, ‘This is the greatest day! It’s the best thing that’s happened to me in years.'”

Even the congregation could sense the importance of this event in Lorena’s life, and they began applauding. Squyres says, “Lorena just kept saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you,’ over and over.”

Lorena says of the day, “I felt so relieved. I was so happy that I had finally made up my mind to do this.”

Lorena has experienced the Lord’s hand of blessing on her life throughout her 100 years. She feels blessed by her children and many grandchildren and by all the times the Lord has answered her prayers, especially for healing. Today she enjoys very good health, despite her advanced age, a fact she attributes to good genes since she has relatives who lived to be 107.

“I’ve had a good life,” Lorena reflects as she looks back over the years. “It wasn’t glamorous or anything like that, but it was a good Christian life, and the Lord has always blessed me. I’m just so glad I got it settled about my baptism.”

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  • Luana Ehrlich