My husband Benhi was baptized in his home country, Namibia, a country in southern Africa when Namibia was under Apartheid rule. When Benhi was baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia, his parents were forced to give him the “Christian” name—James. The same was true for each of his 12 siblings. These names are not “Christian.” These names are Euro-centric.
This is an example of God’s gift of baptism being controlled by a system that is unjust. People were forced to abandon their culture and language in the name of the very God who created them. But the good news for us today is that the ground is level at the font.
Baptism is God’s gift to humanity. All are equal regardless of race or nationality. Through baptism, we are a new creation. Our baptismal identity means that we are claimed by God and marked with the cross of Christ forever!
This message is adapted from “Faith Reflections: Baptismal Joy” written by Angela T. Khabeb that first appeared in the September 2011 issue of Café magazine.