Elia, Amalia, Yessiana, Antonio and Lilly’s Baptism Pictures and stories.

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When I first came to the Plant City SDA Church, Pastor James and Elder Jerry Hill, had a game night/Bible study group for the youth in our community, none of which were members of the church. We would have games and snacks followed up with a Bible study. Occasionally we would go go cart racing or to a restaurant in the area. I noticed with no design of Pastor James or myself, that the game time became shorter and the Bible study time longer. The youth had a lot of questions and we enjoyed helping them find the answers in their Bibles.

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I soon began a baptism class with the youth on Sabbath mornings, which transitioned into a New Believer’s class with Pastor James and myself as the co-teachers.

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While we had the youth Bible study groups going on Wednesday nights, the parents would invite me to their home to study with them. After a couple years, the parents started meeting at the church to study with me, while the kids studied with Pastor James, and our youth night became a family night. It was during these studies that Elia, the grandmother, and Amalia, the mother decided they both wanted to be baptized with their children and grandchildren.

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Lilly was the first to be baptized, so she could lead the way for her family. In our new believer’s Sabbath School class, Lilly asked if we might one day be put in prison for being faithful to God. I told her that was possible, but one way to make sure it never happens is to not be faithful to God. Lilly did not even consider that as a possible scenario. She could see herself in prison but she could never imagine being unfaithful to Jesus!

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Long before being baptized, Antonio has been one of our most faithful ushers, taking up the offerings every Sabbath in church. Anytime he sees anyone setting up tables or chairs, or doing any kind of work around the church during the week, he pitches in to help before anyone has a chance to ask him. Long before baptism, Antonio had a strong sense of belong to the Plant City SDA Church, and the church belonging to him. Antonio loves Jesus and His church!

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Yessiana was the first to express and interest in baptism, and has been a positive role model for her younger brother and sister, and for anyone wanting to know Jesus.  She is active in our Pathfinder club, especially when it comes to missions. She is earning her Bible marking badge in the Patfinders Bible marking class, and eagerly participates in all our community mission projects.

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Every time I visit the home of Elia’s son and daughter-in-law Jose and Adella, and she is there, she loves to open the Word of God and have a Bible study. When we began the adult Bible study on Wednesdays at the church, she was the first to join. She also loves helping out with pathfinders, and is always helping out with fellowship lunches making sure everyone gets enough to eat and has a good time. She is the Abuela of everybody’s dreams.

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Amalia loves to study God’s Word, and it was her idea for us to study the book of Revelation in our Wednesday Bible study. She wanted to follow the Bible exactly instead of tradition. When friends asked why she was making certain lifestyle changes, they asked if it had to do with the new church she was attending. She said, “No. It has to do with the Bible.” Amalia loves Jesus and wants to follow His example!

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At the end of our service today, Pastor James welcomed our new members into the church, and gave them plants for each family. Pastor James explained that as plants need to be watered in order to grow and stay alive, so our relationship needs continual care, like personal Bible study, prayer and church fellowship, in order to thrive.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life before giving yourself to the One who gave His life for you! If you are interested in baptism and following Jesus I would love to help you. I can be reached at Bibleworker@TampaAdventist.net

As always thank your for your much needed contributions to keep me sharing Jesus with others.

Sandra and Ben’s Baptism and Profession of Faith

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As summer ended, Sandra showed up with her son Ben, for my kids summer Bible study group. Sandra wanted Bible studies as well, so we continued studying during the fall. Today Sandra rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Tampa First, and Ben was baptized for the first time.

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This Sabbath Pastor Brad presented Sandra to the church family, as she came in on profession of faith.

Sandra writes,

“I can not thank God enough for everything He has done for me,  especially for accepting me as His child through Jesus. I got baptized at the age of 18, received the gift of singing on that day and I never regretted it for one second of my life. Today I am renewing my faith as it it was the very first time. I am seeking for that 1st love on the day that we met. Unfortunately due to life circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend church regularly, but I always felt guilty about it and prayed God for deliverance. All those years that I prayed asking, “Oh Lord, when am I going to observe Your Sabbath and take my sons to church as I should? Then this past July God answered my prayer and brought me to Tampa and directed me to Tampa First SDA Church, where I found many blessings. He blessed me with another career adjustment that allowed me to observe the Sabbath.”

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Ben writes,

I want to start a new life with God.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Ben, like his mother, studied the Storacles Bible study guides with me.  Ben is very interested in the sciences, as well as criminal justice. He is at the top of his class this year. When Ben we study together, Ben likes to tell me all he is learning in school, and asks me about ways he can serve God though various careers. Ben wants to put God first in all that he does.

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Don’t let the sun go down on your life, without finding Jesus as your personal Savior. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus I would love to study with you in a personal or group Bible study. You can contact me at BibleWorker@TampaAdventist.net

Thank you for your monthly contributions to my ministry so I can continue sharing Jesus with others!

Tojie and Anthony’s Baptism

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Today Tojie and Anthony’s friends, family and teachers from Tampa Adventist Academy came to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church to support Tojie and Anthony as they both gave all themselves to Jesus in baptism, because Jesus gave all of Himself for them. You may watch the video of the baptism and service here. Baptism starts at 17:10.

 

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Tojie is now in the 9th grade. When he was in the 5th and 6th grades he was in my Bible chain referencing class at Tampa Adventist Academy. Tojie told me a while back that he wanted to be baptized. Tojie and Anthony agreed to be baptized together so today was the day! Tojie writes,

“When I hear the word “baptism” the first thing that comes to mind is when Jesus got baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. He was virtually perfect, but he did it anyway. Not because he had to, because he wanted to. Jesus wanted to set an example for us all. I think we should do the same.”

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I met Anthony this year at Tampa Adventist Academy, where he is in the 8th grade. I enjoyed studying with Anthony as he is very transparent and sincere, and was not afraid to ask questions if there was something he was not sure about. His sincere quest for truth and Jesus has led Anthony to a very good understanding of the Bible and relationship with God. Anthony writes,

Baptism to me means that as I go under the water all my sins are being washed away, and as I come up out of the water I am free with a new start. I also believe I will have a stronger connection with God. I think he will have a stronger voice when He talks to me. When I read His Word I feel like things will be more visible. As I spread the gospel I will have a better understanding of God and He will reveal things to me.

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After the baptism Tojie and Anthony were welcomed into the church family along with Anthony’s parents, Leighcraft and Sherri-Lee, who were already baptized.  Pastor Brad Cassell went over the baptism vows and awarded them their certificates with the the Adventist fundamental beliefs.

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Please don’t let another day go by before giving your heart to Jesus. After all, you are not going to be able to keep your life anyway, so why not give it to the One who can save it for all eternity? I would love to help you with this step. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Joyce and Madeline’s Baptism Pictures

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A few months ago Joyce told me her daughter Madeline wanted to be baptized, and that touched her heart, and made her want to be baptized also. We started studying together, and Joyce and Madeline’s lives began to change right away, as they put into practice what we were studying. Joyce asked me to share on example in particular. After studying about returning our tithe and offerings, Joyce decided to start tithing. Like a lot of us, Joyce was nervous, thinking she needed every dime she has to make ends meet. She decided to put her faith in Jesus, knowing He cared about her, and return her tithe. That same week she received a refund check she was not expecting, which was for the same exact amount that she had just tithed. She knew she could give all of herself to the One who gave all of Himself for her.

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Madeline writes, “These the bible studies have helped me understand God’s word and his word is truth. I am understanding more and more about God’s love for me”

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Joyce, who told me as we prepared for baptism that she wants to learn how to share Jesus in door to door ministry writes, “I am not perfect. I thought that God couldn’t love someone like me. I was so wrong. Through my bible studies, I learned how God loves me and is there for me. Each time I read the bible, it opens my eyes and heart to a loving and forgiving God.”

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Joyce and Madeline were baptized tonight during our Unlocking the Mysteries of Bible Prophecy Seminar  at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. After the baptism we gave them their Baptism certificates and a plant as a gift. We encouraged them to continue nurturing their relationship and growth with Jesus, as they continue nurturing their new plants. Our friends from Tampa, Mike, Karmin, Kaleb and Eric came tonight to help us celebrate.

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Joyce and Madeline’s family was also present to show their support as well. Joyce and Madeline are also very happy to choose the Plant City SDA Church as their family as well.

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Please don’t let the sun set on your life without giving your life to Jesus, Who gave His life for you. If you are interested in being baptized I would love to help you. You can contact me at Laypastor@TampaAdventist.net.

DeKontee’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

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After studying with DeKontee’s sisters JanJay and Tinsey several years ago, I was very happy when DeKontee’s family invited me to study with her, to help prepare her for baptism. I enjoyed our studies every week. DeKontee’s family always spoils me with lots of starfruit from their backyard, and nice home cooked meals that I could eat with them, or they would pack for me to go if I had to run to my next Bible study. One thing is sure, you can always feel the love in their home.

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Dekontee was very proud to receive her baptism certificate, which contains the Bible teachings we went over in our studies. DeKontee also wrote a note about her baptism which she asked Pastor Brad to share with the church family.

DeKontee writes:

“When I hear the word baptism, I think of salvation, the gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is nothing we deserve. It was given to us out of love. Getting baptized is not something that you just want to do because your friends or parents say you should. Baptism is a decision you make with your heart. It is a personal decision. After you get baptized you shouldn’t do all the bad things you did before. You have to try to live a better and Godly life. By the grace of God, and with the help of the Holy Spirit I am determined to live a God fearing life. My aim is to truly fall in love with Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save me. I know he will never leave me nor forsake me.” -DeKontee

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DeKontee’s family and her Tampa First Pathfinder Club were up front to show their support. DeKontee even had family from Africa!

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DeKontee and I did a “dry” rehearsal of the baptism before going into the water. I always remind everyone to be sure and bend their knees when I baptize them. Otherwise their feet will go flying out of the water!

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 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 NLT

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:4-6 NLT 

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Dwayne, Whom I baptized a few years ago when he became a part of the Tampa First SDA Church family, now welcomes DeKontee to the Tampa First Church family, and many others welcomed her as well.

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If you live in the Tampa Bay area or on the other side of the world, I would like to invite you to join DeKontee in giving you life to Jesus. When you do, you are only giving away something you were never going to be able to keep anyway, but you gain eternal life, and eternal love. I would love to help you in making this decision if you would like to contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

As my Bible Worker ministry is now 100% reliant upon contributions, I would like to thank those who are loyally supporting this ministry so I can continue sharing the gospel with others in the bay area and around the world, just like DeKontee. Contributions can be sent to the Plant City SDA Church PO Box 5379 Plant City, Fl 33563. Thank you!

RC and Ashley’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

This summer saw some more baptisms from my baptism classes at Tampa Adventist Academy. 

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RC (Third back on left) attended my TAA baptism class last year. This year RC is in my 5th and 6th grade Bible chain referencing class, where he has been enthusiastically chain referencing his Bible so he can share his faith with others.

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On July 21st 2015 RC gave all of himself to Jesus through baptism because Jesus had given all of Himself to RC. RC was baptized by Pastor Rex Frost in the Brandon Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

RC Writes,

I wanted to be baptized and give my life to Jesus, because He gave His life for me, and offers me a better life thank I could live for myself.

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A couple of years ago, while Ashley was in the 6th grade she wanted to have personal Bible studies with me. She had also been studying with her grandmother and family, and enjoys studying the Bible with anybody she can.

Ashley writes,

I want to be baptized because I want to give my heart to Jesus. Baptism to me means to die to your old self and to become a new person, a person of God. I love to learn more about God. I always learn new things when I read the Bible and I always have questions I ask also. I am very curious when it comes to the Bible and I love doing Bible studies. When I get baptized I will feel more accepted in the church like I belong. I want to give my whole life to Jesus Christ. I want Him to lead me on the right path. I want to be an example of God and want to Change. I want God to be proud of me. I am so DSCF0222very excited to get baptized and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for me.

 

Today, August 22 Ashley was baptized by her great grandfather Pastor Obed Graham. Pastor Graham served as pastor of the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church when the church our present church was built. After serving as president of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Graham as retired, and is still in the Florida area. Ashley was very happy that her grandfather was available to baptize her today!

Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before you give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you. If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would love to talk to you and study with you as you make this decision. If you are in another corner of the world I would like to help you find a Bible based church in your neck of the woods. Either way feel free to contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Natalie’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

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When I first came to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, 11 years ago, Ailyn (left) and Alexander’s (Middle) mother asked me to have baptism studies with Ailyn, who was about 12 at the time. Shortly after Ailyn’s baptism her mother introduced me to another family in the neighborhood that wanted to have Bible studies. And thus begun my longest continuous study group ever, lasting 9 years!

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Gus, Ana, Eneida, Natalie, Stephanie and Kimberly are the family Ailyn and Alexander’s family introduced me to. This picture was taken back in 2007. Kimberly, the youngest did not know how to read when we first began studying, and would bring her picture Bible to our studies. When I would have everyone turn to a verse, Kimberly would ask me to show her the verse in her picture Bible. Of course the verse was not in her picture Bible but I would find a suitable picture and tell her that was the verse, and she would be satisfied. Kimberly recently turned 16. She still talks about her picture Bible and me helping her find the right “verses.”

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Over 9 years our study group had many other members, and venues. Here you can see Natalie, who was just recently baptized, in blue, enjoying my enchiladas at my apartment after one of our Bible studies back in 2008.

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Occasionally our group would take advantage of the Florida scenery for our Bible study venues. This picture was taken in 2007. While Natalie already has found the verse, you can see Stephanie helping Kimberly find the right verse in her picture Bible.

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On November 8, 2014, Natalie, her friend Leo, and family went to Chilis to celebrate Natalie’s sister Enedia’s birthday. The fact that Eneida was actually 1,400 miles away in Texas, serving for us in the military did not keep us from still celebrating her birthday. During our 9 years of having our study group together, there would be short periods of times that members would get distracted and we would stop studying together for a while. Were will still family though, and would keep hanging out together. Eventually Natalie’s family would tell me while we were hanging out that they wanted to start the Bible studies back up and again and we would.

Once, after Natalie and Leo graduated high school I met them for lunch at Taco Bell. Being the “grownup” I assumed I was paying. I was used to always paying when hanging out with the youth unless their parents paid. I was very impressed when Natalie and Leo insisted on buying lunch that day. I appreciated the fact that they valued their time with me, and saw me as a friend. They were hanging out with me because they treasured our friendship and not because I was “paying.”

Natalie is already quite mature and responsible. Last year when we were celebrating her sister Stephanie’s graduation, their mother told the waitress to put all her kids on her ticket. Natalie, said, “No. I am twenty. I pay for my own food.” I told her, “Don’t tell my parents about that rule!”

Even at an early stage of her adult life, Natalie has learned financial responsibility, and has a mature and sincere appreciation for family and friends.

When this picture was taken above, after 9 years of Bible studies, Natalie’s family was coming to church. It was at this dinner, while we were hanging out that Natalie asked to be baptized. This is why friendships and relationships are so important. It was not during a Bible study that she asked to be baptized, but while we were just enjoying our friendship hanging out together.

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So Natalie and I began our Bible studies preparing her for baptism! We used our cell phones to study the In Light of The Cross Bible Study Guides. 

Natalie writes:

I want to thank William for baptizing me and for being my friend the past nine years. He was not only a friend but a follower of Christ who brought me closer to the Lord. He influenced my decision to live the rest of my life for Christ who died for our sins. Before meeting William, I did not know too much about what it meant to be a seventh day Adventist and how important it is to seek God for every situation but now I know how important those two things are. One day at Chili’s with my family and William, I decided to become baptized and I told William about it. Every Thursday morning after that, William and I studied many important concepts in the bible such as death, salvation, stewardship, and etc. These study guides were tremendously helpful and I learned lot from reading and studying it with William. After we were done studying the study guides, I was ready to complete my commitment to Jesus. On April 11th on a Saturday morning, I was baptized and it feels amazing to know that I had accepted Jesus into my heart and that I have a brand new family, the church.

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 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. Galatians 3:26-27 NLT 

When we first began our study group with Ailyn and Alexander’s family, Natalie was 11 years old. When Natalie was baptized this April she was 20 years old. I thank God for the privilege of being a part of Natalie’s family for these 9 years and the joy it has given me to see her grow up making such wise and mature decisions all the time. I think this was her best decision ever!

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The story does not end here. My Bible study and friendship with Ailyn and her family led me to meet and begin a 9 year Bible study group with Natalie and her family. After studying for several years with Natalie and her family, they introduced me to their cousins, and we have now been studying on Friday nights for two years now. We have up to 11 members in our study group and a few of them have just recently started coming to church on Sabbath!

If you are in the Tampa Bay area and would like to start a study group like the ones you have just read about I would be glad to help you. Just email me at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area still contact me. I can find a study group for you in your neck of the woods!