Fifteen people were baptized at Seaview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center last month — a number that surprised even the volunteers who organized the event.
“They were so excited to get baptized. The joy in that room was overwhelming,” said volunteer Jeanette Kerr. “It was such a move of God in that place.”
The enthusiasm all started with a man named Robbie.
Jeanette first started visiting Seaview through Heart2Heart a couple of months ago. The Seaview activities director requested volunteers to lead either a weekly Bible study or a craft.
She spent her first weekly visit talking with the residents and praying with them. Residents at Seaview need full-time medical care and are often confined to a bed or a wheelchair.
One resident in particular stood out: Robbie.
Robbie is younger than many of the residents. He suffered a head injury as a young man when he went through the windshield of a car in a very bad crash.
Though speech is harder for him, Robbie always makes sure people know two things when they talk to him.
No. 1: How much he loves Jesus.
No. 2: How important it is to wear your seatbelt.
As soon as he found out that she was a lay minister, Robbie’s roommate told Jeanette how much Robbie wanted to be baptized.
Jeanette’s church leads beach baptisms once every few months on Fort Lauderdale beach. She knew that bringing the Seaview residents to the beach would not be feasible.
But she had to figure out how to get Robbie baptized.
“I felt God putting it on my heart. I was not going to tell Robbie: ‘No we can’t do it, because you need to come to the beach,’” she said. “That’s not how God operates.”
Bringing the Baptisms Indoors
Jeanette prayed about it and then spoke to her pastor, who agreed with the importance of offering baptisms at Seaview.
During one weekly meeting, Jeanette and other volunteers from the church explained the gospel and how baptism represented a public declaration of a new life in Jesus.
Fifteen people signed up to be baptized the next week.
On July 19, each person was called up by name. One woman who was confined to her bed insisted on getting baptized. She was wheeled out of her room to participate.
Each person was given the opportunity to declare their faith in Jesus. Then they were baptized with a sprinkling of water.
Volunteer Paula Esenwa prayed over them, and Jeanette spoke with each person individually.
“The main thing I wanted them to know was that God loves them. He knows them. He sees them. And they’re not forgotten about,” Jeanette said. “It was a wonderful experience, and it was all God.”
When the Christian Life Center volunteers came the next week, they brought Bibles and spent time reading scripture with the residents.
Robbie wanted to read Psalm 23. He read the whole chapter out loud.
Inspiring More Baptisms
Unfortunately, volunteers haven’t been able to visit Seaview since July due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the facility. When they’re able to return, they plan to bring certificates to the residents who got baptized and offer them communion.
Plus, they want to offer the chance to get baptized to residents who were confined to their room.
“We don’t want to stop what God is doing,” Jeanette said.
The baptism at Seaview has inspired Christian Life Center’s Fort Lauderdale campus. Churchgoers there never considered offering water baptisms as part of their existing nursing home and prison ministries.
“Now they’re thinking, ‘We need to do this,’” Jeanette said.
Jeanette said her church would love to offer a Bible study in other nursing homes or care centers.
“If they’re willing, we would be absolutely thrilled,” she said.
Learn more about leading Bible studies in care centers.