My husband Benhi was baptized in his home country, Namibia, during Apartheid rule. Baptized as an infant in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia, Benhi’s parents were forced to give him the “Christian” name James. The same was true for each of his 12 siblings. They all were forced to take “Christian” names: Amanda, Douglas, Evelyn, Jeffery and Sylvia, etc. These names are not “Christian.” These names are Eurocentric.
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. It is a second birth that is open to all.
This message is excerpted from “Troubled waters: Our baptismal identity” by Angela T. Khabeb in the August 2018 Café online magazine.
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