Four years ago, during a South Lancaster Academy baptism, at the fully packed South Lancaster Village Church of Seventh-day Adventists, our then six year old Joel managed to get away from Joanne, ran towards the platform, and began to climb trying to get into the baptistry. As everyone looked on, I asked him, "Joel, what are you doing?" He replied: "I want to get baptized, I've been asking you for three years. You are already in the water, let me get in and baptize me ... please Papa, I love Jesus, just do it!!!"
Rather than being excited and moved by my little boy's act of faith and boldness, I was mortified by "the distraction" and waited for Joanne to come and get him. She gave him her phone and asked him to take a photo of the baptism. After fussing and telling her that he was there to be baptized and not to take photos, he ended up taking a few photos.
As I look back, I still regret my reaction! If this would have happened today, I would have allowed him to climb over into the baptistry, and would have baptized him on the spot.
On that day I learned my lessons: (1) There is no age limit to accept Jesus, (2) The decision of a child to follow Jesus needs to be celebrated and taken seriously (3) My children and all children are more important than what people may think or say, (4) The salvation of my children and all children is more valuable than some long held views (traditions) which state an individual must be a "certain age" before he/she gets baptized, (5) Children are people and Jesus was and is still available to them at the time of their choosing, (6) As a pastor, I am not here to hinder a decision to follow Jesus, but to facilitate it.
Needless to say, Joel was baptized three weeks later at the age of six! Just this morning, Joel, who is now 10, told me that his baptism day was the #1 top highlight of his life!
Dear parent or pastor, please learn from my mistake! Don't delay your child's decision to follow Jesus because they are too young! Or for any other reason!
Jose Cortes, Jr. is the associate ministerial director for evangelism in the North American Division