South Florida churches baptize 79 at beach celebration

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KEY BISCAYNE— The Atlantic Ocean waters, still and quiet, seemed to come to life as 79 people were baptized and celebrated new life in Christ on a recent sunny Saturday.

Seven Hispanic Baptist churches from Miami “joined in fellowship and a baptism festival” June 3 on the beaches of Key Biscayne, said Emanuel Roque, Hispanic ministries catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.

Beach Baptism“Pastors joined in planning, praying, and together being present with their churches to witness to the power of the gospel,” he said.

For 50 days–from Easter Sunday on April 9, which celebrated Christ’s resurrection, through Pentecost Sunday on May 28, which celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit­–the seven churches were laser focused on reaching people with the gospel.

And then it was time for the beach baptism celebration.

“It was a great celebration of baptisms and unity among Hispanic churches,” said Roque.

The churches that joined in the mass baptism celebration were Turning Point, Northside, Bethesda Doral , Christ in Us, Bethesda McCall, Bethesda Naples, and Kendall.

As far as the eye could see down the coast, tents bearing church names and people wearing T-shirts announcing their status of “newly baptized” bore witness to God’s work in southeast Florida.

Beach BaptismIn addition to the 79 new believers, hundreds of people–including family, church family and beachgoers who happened to be nearby­–lined the shore to witness the baptisms.

Some people, members of Bethesda church’s mission led by Deibis Labrada, came from as far away as Naples and Ft. Myers to be baptized. Many couples were baptized together; others were baptized alongside friends who invited them to church, and still others were baptized along with their sons and daughters. Every time a new believer was raised from the waters, the crowd erupted with cheers and claps reverberating up and down the beach.

Beach Baptism“This is a great way to celebrate baptisms because it is very public,” said Alberto Ocaña, Northside pastor. “Other beachgoers see it, and they wonder what it’s about. It is a great way to start gospel conversations and invite people to church.”

After the baptisms the celebration was not over as attendees spent a beach day together, grilling burgers and hotdogs, chatting, taking photos and enjoying the crystal-clear waters of Key Biscayne.

“[It was a] glorious day with hundreds of people and more than 75 baptisms,” said Roque. “I’m grateful for unity within the southeast region and the collaborative kingdom work. Glory to God!”

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