The Glasgow SDA Church concluded its 10 Days of Prayer with a lively celebration on Sabbath, 20th of January 2024. The church was packed with attendees, both in-person and online. The atmosphere was filled with joy as the congregation witnessed four baptisms.
“Growing is a dynamic process and if you decide to stay connected to Christ, you will grow,” Pastor Claudiu Popescu said as he preached about the paradox of Christian growth. Drawing inspiration from the parable of the growing seed in Mark 4:26-29, the speaker emphasised that the journey to spiritual maturity is a personal one. Just like a seed, the word of God takes root within us, and individual growth is a unique and personal process. Life is an adventure, and embracing every opportunity to grow in Christ is key. The message highlighted the importance of relying on God's guidance, acknowledging that true maturity cannot be achieved on our own.
Pastor Claudiu concluded the sermon beautifully by sharing the testimonies of the baptism candidates. Even though all four candidates were raised in a Christian environment, each of them had a unique story to share about their journey with Christ.
Emmanuel grew up in Nigeria in an Anglican family where he was “engrained with the knowledge and the understanding of the beauty of living in fellowship with Christ,” he said. However, after the death of his mother, the pillar of faith in their family, he went astray for years as he lacked spiritual guidance. Yet, he saw God’s grace in everything he did. Emmanuel later married an Adventist who introduced him to the church. He revealed to have been fascinated by Adventist beliefs. “Better nutrition and lifestyle, a good relationship with God and our neighbours…These are the things I felt would add to my life and make me grow,” he said. Brother Emmanuel, delighted by the warm welcome in the Glasgow church, looks forward to the ongoing sense of communion. He hopes that the congregation's support will contribute to strengthening his steadfastness in the faith of Christ.
“Finally, my dream came alive today,” Doina confessed to Pastor Claudiu as she entered the baptistery. She was born into a mixed faith family - her mother was an Adventist and her father Orthodox. However, she was forced to follow her father’s religion. Doina tried hard over the years to find her place in her Orthodox congregation but all the negative experiences of the past finally made her stop going to church. She still lives with the trauma of seeing her dad abuse her mum. She herself endured an abusive marriage for three decades. In difficult times, she always found solace in singing hymns and reading the Bible. Doina revealed to have always cherished what she learned in the SDA church from the couple of occasions she worshipped with her late mother. After moving to Scotland, she met Christina who encouraged her to commit her life to Christ. “All the experiences I went through made me stronger and brought me closer to my Heavenly Father. I don’t know about the future, but at the moment, I feel home and blessed,” Doina concluded.
A couple of years after Christina had left her parents’ house, she became financially independent and chose her work, money, and glory over God. She was content but her heart was empty. “Only the love of God and a healthy relationship with Him could have calmed my soul, “she said. She had a complicated pregnancy with her second child and, due to medical necessity, her husband had to make the agonising choice between saving her life or the baby’s. Christina prayed and pledged to keep God’s commandments if He saved both of their lives and yes, God saved them both! After some years, she felt she had the moral duty to raise and educate her children in church. She then searched for an SDA church and found the Glasgow congregation. The members warmly welcomed her, she felt home again, and that was her turning point. She is also thankful to God for sending her Doina, a true friend whom she shares many things in common with. “Jesus is so important to me. I can’t live without him, I can’t. I want to be [ right with God ] and serve God all my life,” Christina said.
Sister Melvina is known for her commitment and faithfulness in Glasgow Church. However, she decided to recommit her life to Christ. “My journey with Christ is so wonderful. I went through a lot but God’s grace always sustained me... I just want to surrender my life to Him as He leads me and fulfil His purpose for me,” she declared. She draws her strength from Joshua 1:9 as she remains strong and courageous knowing that God is always with her and can be trusted.
The ceremony was filled with beautiful melodies, thanks to the youth-led praise team. They guided the church with reflective worship songs that lifted everyone's spirits. The highlight came when the candidates, one by one, stepped into the baptistery to show their commitment to Christ.
Following the baptism ritual, just before Elder Phelomen Mukangiliye offered the prayer of consecration, Pastor Claudiu called for adoptive parents for the newly baptised. Many members eagerly volunteered. These adoptive parents will now walk alongside the 'babies in faith,' nurturing their spiritual growth.
The celebration continued as the church embraced the new members with hugs, gifts and flowers. Everyone gathered for a special family photo session followed by a delicious fellowship lunch organised by Miliam Kasowanjete, the local Women’s Ministries leader. The newly baptised were also treated to a special cake for the occasion. There was joy in heaven and joy on earth - the name of the Lord was glorified and the church felt truly blessed.
For months, the four baptismal candidates engaged in intensive Bible studies with Pastor Claudiu who expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work with them. He also extended his gratitude to the incredible Communications team, whose efforts made it possible to stream the service, allowing a wider audience to be part of the event. As Pr Claudiu concluded the 10 Days of Prayer, he encouraged members to prioritise their faith growths saying “Jesus is always knocking at our doors and the best decision you can take is to give your life to Him”.