5 are baptised in Irvine and Paisley
30th May 2019
Paisley SDA church is a church with a difference because it is a family. There is a warmth within this church family that comes from a genuine love, care and consideration that members have for each other. While the family is close knit, it has arms wide open for visitors and the community around it. And so it was that, in keeping with this family church ethos, on 6th April 2019, when three of the church’s young people were to get baptised, the family came together to support its children. The candidates were Cuthbert Tamale-Ssali, Amina Simpenzwe and Taonga Ongwae Chirwa.
Unlike the previous year, in 2019, Paisley was joined by its beloved sister church – the Irvine congregation – in the celebration of baptism. Both Paisley and Irvine churches are shepherded by Pastor Claudiu Popescu. Over the years, the two churches have continued to nurture and cherish the bond between them. Irvine is a small but loving and close-knit family church in which members belong and support one another. Irvine brought two baptismal candidates, David and Tricia Fulton, who have been married for 16 years with two daughters – Gabriella and Savannah. Each candidate gave a testimony of the journey they had had and why they had decided to get baptised.
David, who is 37 and an aeronautical engineer, told about how he had been raised by his mother and step father to have good Christian values but didn’t really believe in God. He described himself as agnostic because at that time, he doubted whether there could ever be a God. David shared how he questioned the meaning of life. It was during this time that he, along with his wife and friends started to experiment with illegal substances. That experience made David realise he needed help because what started off as a fun experience turned quickly into an unpleasant experience that he could not control. In that moment, his wife Tricia told him to call on Jesus. While resisting the advice at first, he eventually took Tricia’s advice and repeated the words she said to him ‘Jesus I believe in you and take you as my Lord and Saviour’. That marked a turning point for David. That night, his eyes were opened to the work of the devil in deceiving human beings. At the same time, he sensed God’s presence and that new relationship with God drew him closer to his God and his wife. He testified that God was working through his wife. The next day, David went into the sea and baptised himself! He wanted to wash his sins away and ‘declare a new beginning in life with Jesus Christ’. For David, the journey between February 2018 and 6th April 2019 only cemented his desire to get formally baptised.
Tricia also gave a powerful testimony. She began by asking herself the question ‘Why have I chosen to get baptised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church?’ The answer was simple – ‘God sent me here!’. Tricia shared about how she was born and raised in a Presbyterian home, back in Trinidad and Tobago. When she was 19, Tricia came to Scotland and at 21, got married to David. The routines of life, including work, socialising and being a parent, soon occupied her life that she felt she ‘didn’t really have time for God’. However, around 2014, Tricia started feeling that everything in life was pointless. She said ‘I had no motivation to do anything. I stopped laughing and I remember feeling I was falling into a pit.’ She told David once ‘life is just pointless’. Tricia tried to overcome these feelings by going back to her childhood writing hobby because she felt she couldn’t really talk to anyone about how she was feeling. She knew something was missing and no one could help, not even David. She eventually got the courage to speak to a friend about God. To her surprise, her friend was also feeling as she was and was looking to go back to church. So they started going to church together at the St Kentigerns Church. The messages from the church minister made her realise that God wanted her to seek Him. With this rekindled relationship with God, Tricia felt the feelings of pointlessness diminish, her smile was back and she was feeling positive about her life again. However, although she was going to church, her lifestyle remained the same; she was still going on nights out drinking with her friends and partying. All that changed on 5th February 2018. On that day, Tricia says God revealed himself to her! It was the night David recounted when they experimented with illegal substances. In those moments of confusion and chaos, when the alcohol and drugs were churning through her body, Tricia reached out to God. She started to comfort others who were also being affected by the alcohol and drugs. She recalls how she felt that God was with her and she started feeling calm. Tricia shared how, in her head, she started saying ‘I take you Lord Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’. She felt God urge her to say it out loud and she did.
From that day, Tricia had a close walk with God. God led her into His truth, from understanding what is clean and unclean food to seeing how the devil deceives people and uses those around us to draw us from God. Increasingly, God was urging her to read the Bible and find out more. So Tricia started reading the Bible with new insight. Tricia searched for bible truth through various mediums too, including YouTube, God Channel and Google. She searched for bible truth around themes such as SALVATION and BAPTISM, all the while inspired by God to search for Him. When she learnt about baptism in the Bible, she was impressed to get baptised by full body immersion. So she searched for a church that practiced baptism by full body immersion. And she found that, to do so, she would have to leave her new found church at St Kentigerns Church, including the friends she had made there. God wanted her to seek another church. So she reached out to an old friend, Carmen and asked her if her church practiced full body immersion baptism. Carmen said they did and she and Tricia met up a few days later to talk about this. Carmen was a Seventh Day Adventist. Through her, Tricia was introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist church and Tricia began to attend. It was 'the little church in Irvine’, the Irvine Seventh-day Adventist church. She recalls how the people there were friendly and welcoming. Shortly after this event, David also started attending the Irvine SDA Church with Tricia and they started to attend Bible study classes with Carmen, her husband Doru and another couple, Justin and Rosanna. The journey continued that led to the baptism of Tricia Fulton on 6th April 2019.
The youngest candidate of the day was twelve-year-old Taonga from Paisley church. Taonga is a child of Paisley church who has been raised by the Paisley Church family. ‘I was born into a Seventh Day Adventist household on 11th January 2007 in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Like Hannah did with her baby Samuel in the bible, my family saw it fit that I was also dedicated to God. So on 24th February 2007, I was dedicated by Pastor Jimmy Botha in Dunfermline SDA Church, and so began my journey with God’ Taonga shared. As a precious child of the Children’s Ministries, Taonga testified that ‘I was introduced to Christ by my family at home and my teachers at Sabbath school (it just so happened my mother was also my Sabbath school teacher).’ Taonga shared how church programmes like Sabbath school and pathfinders were also instrumental in his spiritual growth because they helped him to learn and understand the scriptures. Passionately, he said ‘baptism is a really personal decision. I made this decision because I know that Jesus had to die the cross just so that I can go to heaven and live with him there. I do not want to take him for granted as I am grateful for the sacrifice he made for me. I am grateful for all the blessing he has given me. And because of this, I want to live my life for him. I want to be a light shining for him. I want to be a servant of God.’
Like Taonga, Cuthbert is a child who also grew up in the Paisley church family. As the church piano player, Cuthbert’s presence is fundamental to the running of the worship service in Paisley church. On the day of his baptism, Cuthbert was supported not only by his church family but by a large extended family who traveled from far and wide to witness the blessed experience. Central to these was Cuthbert’s grandmother who sang a special song that she sung for him on the day he was dedicated as a young child. What a blessed experience.
A candidate who is new but firmly part of the Paisley church was the Amina. Amina’s testimony brought a tears to many eyes in the audience. Amina was born and raised in a Muslim family, even though her mother was Catholic before she married her father, who was Muslim. Unfortunately, Amina’s parents got divorced while she was young. In 2002, Amina’s mother came to work in the UK, leaving Amina in the care of her aunties, who were Catholic. Amina grew up attending a Catholic church with little practice of Islam. When she was 13 Amina saw her mother again, who left her when she was only a toddler. Her mother had tried four times to bring her to the UK to no avail; Amina lost hope of ever being with her mother again. Amina finally came to live with her mother when she was about 13 years old. In her time in Tanzania, Amina says she knew who Jesus was but didn’t really know anything ‘about him’. She got to know about Jesus when she started coming to church. Although she had first attended church for social reasons, she eventually started learning more about God and started ‘to see how wonderful he is and how he is a loving God’. Amina testified that ‘I have come to understand that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour’.
Once each candidate had given their personal testimony, they went to the pool to get baptised. Pastor Claudiu had a personal statement for each candidate, an indication of the relationship he each candidate. For each candidate, that moment when they went into the water was unique and special. You could sense the Holy Spirit come down and dwell on each of them. There was no shortage of tears of joy, thankfulness and praise to the Lord in the room as each candidate was buried in that watery grave, dying to their old self, and they rose out of the water a new creation, alive in Christ. As the congregation broke out in song, you could imagine the angels drawing closer and joining in in their songs of praise to their Lord and Saviour.
Indeed, baptism is a special moment in any Christian’s walk. But, as the candidates are learning, it is only the beginning. Often, it can be the start of a targeted attack from the evil one, an experience we learn about from Christ after His baptism and the ensuing 40 days in the desert. Paisley and Irvine Church will continue to support these new souls that have made a life-changing decision in a world where Christianity is dying. May the Lord bless you all – David, Tricia, Taonga, Cuthbert and Amina.
[Valentah Siamuzwe Manase]