Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wedding, Circumcision, or Baptism?

Ten minutes before my teenagers’ baptism was scheduled to begin, God drenched our entire city in a torrential downpour, the first rain in three months. Rain dripped and poured into the building through cracks in windows and doors.  Friends called, saying they were stranded. 

“Oh no,” I thought, “We’ve been waiting for this milestone celebration for such a long time. How can this be happening?”

A short half hour later, however, the floors were mopped, and the last wet friends straggled in. My husband and I had the privilege of baptizing our 16 year old son and 14 year old daughter along with another couple who baptized their daughter. We shared this beautiful family event with 50 friends.  Afterwards several Turks commented, “That was just like a wedding!”

When I heard that, I felt happy inside because it was exactly what I’d dreamed of.  Here in Turkey, people celebrate the circumcisions of their sons much like they do a wedding: with invitations, special clothes and a big party. In fact they use the same word, "wedding," for both events.

“Why not celebrate our baptisms the same way?” I thought. "This is a big deal. Let’s have a party!” So we printed invitations, and visited our closest friends, Christian and Muslim, to deliver them personally. This turned into a great opportunity to share good news.

“Why are they getting baptized now?” our Muslim friends asked.” We thought that was for babies.” We explained that putting your faith in Christ was a personal decision, not one that your parents made for you.

Thanks to many friends’ help, the event was memorable. We made programs, food for the party afterwards, and the two girls made favors to give to guests: candy wrapped in purple tulle tied with ribbon. Hearing my kids give their testimony in Turkish touched me most. After each baptism, the group sang the song that each young person chose. Later people stayed longer than I expected enjoying the food and conversation.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said a Muslim friend. “I was amazed by that idea that each of your kids is God’s gift, uniquely and wonderfully created. How wonderful that you do not force your faith upon them. They are free to choose.”

I smiled for days after our celebration, giving thanks to God for:

My Kids:

They took a big step to express their faith publicly.  God encouraged them through the celebration held for them.  With fervor and excitement, our Turkish sister prayed for them.  Another Turkish friend brought them silver rings. (Why didn’t I, their mother, think of that?)

An Opportunity for Culturally Relevant Witness:

We had a unique opportunity to express our faith to some of our friends in a culturally relevant way. A few friends who have not been open to come to a church service enjoyed our family celebration and heard good news at the same time.

What about your special events? Have you adopted any local customs into your celebrations?


  1. This was beautiful and very encouraging thankyou for sharing

  2. Love this Olive!! We are looking for things to incorporate into our family...a lot of Latin traditions center around girls (quiñceiera anyone?) but I have all boys :) Anyway, we're looking and working on this

  3. Thanks, Anna.

    Liz, I think the big emphasis on kids' birthdays period is something I incorporated from Latin culture (and brought with me to Turkey! he he he)

  4. Wow, what an awesome testimony! I love that you invated both Christian and Muslim friends. I hope I will do that when that days comes for our kids!

  5. Tanja, I would have invited even more Muslim friends, but my daughter said, "Mom, you CANNOT turn our baptism into an evangelistic event!" I thought, "Why not?" :-)

    But I respected her wishes and invited just a few closest friends. I wanted their baptism to be mainly about them and God.

  6. What a wonderful story. I loved it! Felicitaciones to your whole family (including your spiritual family)!

  7. Great ideas! And put so wonderfully into practice. Congratulations to Andres and Camille.

  8. Lovely post! Our pastor likes to say that baptism doesn't make you saved any more than a wedding ring makes you married, but both are symbols of the commitment you have made.
    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on Saved by Grace!
    Your blog is a blessing and I am following it, and I invite you to follow Saved by Grace also:
    Love in Him,
    Laurie Collett