A Grandma, a Young Heroine, and a Pathway to Health Convert

Baptisms at Indianapolis' evangelistic series include life stories of faith and courage.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
A Grandma, a Young Heroine, and a Pathway to Health Convert
[Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

A grandma who found truth in the Bible before finding a denomination that followed it. A girl who committed to Jesus not long after receiving a Kids Hero Award from her city. A man who was so impressed with the Pathway to Health initiative that he hasn’t stopped studying the Bible and attending an Adventist church since. 

These are some of the stories that baptismal candidates wrote and shared before being submerged into the waters on the last day of the Revelation of Hope series in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The May 21-28, 2022, wrap-up series, which had General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson as the main speaker and international evangelist Mark Finley as host, built upon the outreach and evangelistic initiatives the region has been conducting in recent months. They included the Pathway to Health free mega-clinic in April and local Bible study groups and baptisms.

Saturday (Sabbath) meetings and services were crowned with three separate baptismal ceremonies during the day, and the commitment of dozens of people to get ready to be baptized in the near future. Below are some of their written testimonies, which Finley read before they were baptized and accepted as members in one of the local Adventist congregations.

A Grandma and Her Grandchildren

Renda Gaston said she had had a heart and passion for God for many years. Sometime ago she was serving at another Christian denomination, when she felt that what she had heard about Seventh-day Adventists was true. “This has to be the truth,” she told herself. 

Instead of contacting a church directly, she began to study the Bible to know more about God’s truth. Gaston found the truth about the seventh-day Sabbath and the biblical emphasis on the second coming of Jesus. When she received a flyer advertising the Revelation of Hope series, she was ready. “I decided it was time for me to commit to all of God’s truth.”

But there is more to the story, because as she was studying and learning more about Bible truth, she began to share what she had learned with their grandchildren, Kyrie and Stephon. When Gaston told them that she had decided to be baptized, they didn’t doubt. “If you get baptized, we will get baptized with you,” they told her. On May 28, the three of them were baptized by Indiana Conference evangelist Eric Freking.

A Heroine Girl

Rachel Fajana, 9, had often expressed a desire to commit her life to the Lord. For some, however, she was too young to be baptized. But if anyone had doubts about Fajana’s readiness for such an important step, an unexpected situation changed everyone’s mind.

One day when she was still 8, Fajana’s brother had a medical emergency. Since her brother could not talk and the only adult nearby, her grandmother, barely knew any English, Rachel called 911 and kept her composure and courage as she followed the prompts she was told by the dispatcher until the paramedics arrived.

Fajana is credited to have helped save her brother’s life. In recognition of her calm demeanor and key intervention, the city of Avon, Indiana, granted her the Indiana Public Safety Communications Kids Hero Award. When asked by the press why she had acted that way, she said, “I love to help people and make a good difference in their lives.” Now she hopes her baptism on May 28 marks the launch of a lifetime commitment to serve others. 

The Role of Pathway to Health

Johnson Odunnga’s first contact with the Adventist Church was through the Pathway to Health mega-clinic at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “Right away, I knew that this was the true church of Jesus,” he said. “This is where I wanted to belong forever!”

Since the end of the mega-clinic, he hasn’t stopped attending the Saturday (Sabbath) services at the local Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church and studying the Bible to learn more about God’s plan for his life.

“I have found what I have been praying for,” Odunnga said before being submerged into the waters by local pastor Afolarin Tunde Ojewole. “I have found what I have been searching for all my life!”

The May 28 evening baptism included other candidates. Among them was Donald Montgomery, who grew up in the Adventist Church but then walked away for years. He didn’t hesitate to share how happy he was to be back. “I am so excited to return to the God of my youth!” he said. “I know I am forgiven and empowered in Christ!”

Finley made clear that the Revelation of Hope series baptisms have not finished. “In the next few weeks, more people will conclude their Bible studies and will be baptized,” he said. “Others have now made a decision for Jesus and want to get ready for baptism. God has poured out His blessings on Indianapolis!” he said.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review