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