I was a witness. The temperature hovered just above the freezing point. The wind whipped across the harbor. Still, a young Iraqi refugee wanted to be baptized, to proclaim his newfound faith in Jesus. So we went to the Steenhoofd, in the docks west of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, and we cheered him on as he got dunked in the frigid waters of the IJ River.
I was there for moral support as much as anything — back-up to one of our church’s pastors-in-training who did the actual “getting-wet” part. But I was glad to be there. I love baptisms in Amsterdam. We’ve done them in the Nieuwe Meer (big lake just south of the city). We’ve done them in the reflecting pool on the Museumplein. We’ve done them in swimming pools. We’ve done them in the North Sea. We’ve done them in bathtubs, even. Every location has its own charm because it’s a part of a unique story that’s being written in the life of a unique individual — just like the stories of the Ethiopian official who got baptized in a roadside pond (Acts 8:26-40), or the textile merchant who was baptized in a river just outside of Philippi (Acts 16:13-15).
After today’s baptism, we gathered around the new believer and spent time praying for him. We thanked God and prayed for His blessing. But we were blessed already… by a new moment of God’s grace imprinted on our memory