LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–When Steve Silverman emerged from the water, the newly baptized man could see clearly — even without the pair of glasses he normally wears.
Although Steve knew there was a scientific reason — the water in his eyes acted as a lens — he also saw the spiritual connection.
“The reason why it is clear, is that I have a God-given lens,” Steve said, calling it “an extremely powerful” experience.
Steve and his wife, Arlene, were two of 35 people baptized in a recent weekend at Saddleback Valley Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that has baptized more than 1,000 every year for the past seven years in Southern California.
Steve’s journey of faith began as he was growing up in a Jewish family. But, as an adult, many of his friends were Christians and discussed their faith with him. In the late 1970s, he made the intellectual decision that Christianity was the religion he wanted to follow. But although Steve gave Christ his mind, he never truly gave his heart.
In September 1999, Steve and his wife moved to Southern California from New Jersey. A friend of theirs told them about Saddleback.
Right from the beginning they sensed God leading them to worship at the church. The sermons were practical, the music was moving and the people were friendly. And both Steve and Arlene were particularly excited about the church’s insistence on getting people involved with ministry. Steve remembered one of pastor Rick Warren’s sermons when he told the Saddleback members that if they didn’t want to get involved in ministry, he didn’t want them in the church.
“I was shocked by that,” Steve said. “That’s about as in your face as you can get, but I was really empowered. I thought, ‘That’s a church where you are led, taught and fed. That’s great.'”
Although Steve had been sprinkled at a church of another denomination, he didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before he came to Saddleback. Now he had a whole new relationship with Christ — a relationship that was real, lasting and — most importantly — personal.
The couple also felt baptism by immersion was more consistent with the Bible.
“It’s right in the Bible, you are baptized by immersion,” Steve said. “There’s a real meaning to that.”
Arlene stood beside Steve for his baptism, then Steve stood beside her as she was baptized.
“It was really a reaffirmation of our wedding vows,” Steve said. “We didn’t expect that. It was very special. That cemented our love for each other through our love for Christ.”