BRAVE NORTH SEA BAPTISM
11th June 2014
John (Taffy) Barrington was baptised in the North Sea at Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, on the afternoon of Sabbath, 17 May. Football used to be his idol and he chose that particular afternoon because it was the time "his" team were playing in the Scottish Cup.
His baptism represented a turning away from the lure of football towards God as the prime mover in his life. His childhood in Wales had been troubled, in and out of foster care and eventually he dropped out of school too. Ultimately he wanted to get away from everything and everyone and he just walked away from his home.
He travelled northwards through Wales, then North England, to Glasgow (Scotland) and finally settled in Dundee, even though he knew no one there. As he had no money, he was homeless and often had to beg. For no reason at all, he carried a Bible with him, which he picked up in a charity shop in England and he would read it occasionally. It became and still is part of his journey. After weeks on the streets of Dundee spent in derelict buildings, door-ways, and cemeteries he got a break and was taken into a hostel. There he met Sandra, for whom times were also very hard, and they became good friends.
Another young lady in the hostel mentioned to Taffy that her dad, Bob McPhee, who was part of the Travelling Community, could do with help from time to time. When Taffy met Bob for the first time, he told him that he believed in the Lord, not knowing if his confession was going to be met with scorn or disrespect. To his surprise Bob invited Taffy several times to the local Dundee Seventh-day Adventist church, which he attended. From his first visit Taffy couldn't believe how welcoming the church was and how right it all felt for him. After a number of visits, Taffy felt more and more like he belonged. Along the way, he received help from many people at the church.
Taffy soon began to study the Bible with Pastor Marcel Ghioalda. In the meantime, he obtained steady work, and a flat, and life felt so much more meaningful to him at last. Taffy had tried many churches but everything about the Adventist church felt so "right" to him; especially the regular and deep engagement with the Bible. Pastor Ghioalda always praises Taffy for the enthusiasm with which he shares his newly found faith with everyone he meets. Taffy is also an amateur poet and communicated his growing faith to the church from time to time in his own rhymes. Eventually Taffy asked to be baptised in as public a way as possible in the sea. After he emerged from the cold waters of the Tay estuary he said, "I feel so good," "I'm born again," "God has led me so far," "I want to thank so much all the good people who have helped me." He was particularly delighted that several passers-by showed interest and asked what was happening and what it meant. He thanks the Lord every day, as without Him he was so blind in this world. Taffy is now in process of composing a poem about his changed life and his baptism.