I don’t speak about it often…mainly because I am rarely in a place where this topic has a place. But when I do find myself in a setting where I can bring it up, it’s like a neat party trick that guarantees dropped jaws and “are you kidding? YOU were one of THOSE?”
From birth to the age of 15, I lived in Southern California before moving to the greatest state (read Texas). During those 15 years my family and I were part of a very religious, legalistic, controlling denomination. They’re called The Apostalic Assembly. You probably haven’t heard of them. Perhaps you’ll be a bit more familiar when I describe to you what they look like.
Women could not:
Wear makeup. Wear pants. Wear jewelry (not even a wedding band). Cut their hair (not even a trim). Wear open toe shoes if you were in stage ministry. Could not be in stage ministry unless you were on the praise team or choir. The woman must always cover her head with a veil before entering the church. Both men and women could not go to the theater to watch a movie (what?). They also believe they are the only religion/denomination going to Heaven (what?).
This is what I grew up in. It was all I knew. My dad was second generation pastors kid in that. It was all he knew. It was a disgusting place of controlling men and sad, submissive wives. It was (is) a place of hidden sin in it’s leaders, sin that would be brushed under the rug because image is what matters most.
Romans 10:9 – Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED
You’re asking “Keilah, why’d you quote scripture?”
Thanks for asking, you’re so good at questions.
This group of people believe that baptism saves. Sorry, if that was true, then I got saved like 100 times every summer in my pool.
Baptism is the outward symbol to the inward change. We go from death to life when we go through those waters. Think of baptism as my wedding ring. My ring shows you that I am married to my super hot husband. It is a physical, outward symbol showing everyone that I am a taken woman (because they’re all pining over me, right? 😉 ) Taking my ring off does not make me any less married. It does not automatically mean I am no longer married, right? The same goes for baptism. It shows to my friends and family that I have made the decision to be obedient to Christ, did as He did and died to my flesh to be raised back to life. Not being baptized does not make me less of a Christian. It does NOT determine my salvation.
This church pushes baptism to add to their numbers, they also push the proof of receiving the Holy Spirit in the evidence of speaking in tongues. If you did not speak in tongues, whoa, you were not on the right track. Speaking in tongues is a gift. A gift. That means not everyone is going to have this gift and that is okay. It is not life or death if you don’t speak in tongues. But don’t you dare say that in their church. Receiving the Holy Spirit was dramatic, sensational, emotional, showy. Running the aisles, rolling around on the ground, shaking, yelling. This was an average Sunday morning.
I made the decision to be baptized when I was 14 years old. I was urged by my youth pastor to make this decision slowly, to not do it because all my friends were doing it because it was the thing to do. My youth pastor knew the truth and he tried to help me understand. At that time my parents were both in the depths of depression. The Lord was tugging at their heart for their attention, calling them out to make the move that needed to be done. I had to be baptized. I needed my church and my friends to know that I was saved. So I got in that tank, looked around the crowd gathering around for my parents. My mom was in the back of the church, I could barely see her. My dad sat a few rows back from the tank, his arms crossed looking so depressed and lifeless. That was the moment I knew something was wrong, I didn’t feel right. I went under the water, came back up and proved with the evidence of speaking in tongues that I was “saved”. Everyone rejoiced, but my parents sat there.
Not long after, we left the church, sold our home and all our belongings, and moved to Texas with just the clothes on our backs. We began attending a non-denominational church where the Lord began to detox us from the garbage we were taught our whole lives.
I came from that mess. It’s not who I am. I still sometimes battle with legalism and religiosity. But I have a community who can call me out on it lovingly and show me grace. I have a Jesus who isn’t concerned with how I dress or how much makeup I wear. Because wearing a skirt and looking homely doesn’t make me saved or “set apart”. I made the decision to get baptized–the right way, for the right reasons (I sound like a Bachelor contestant) on May 1st 2016 at The Paradox Church where I attend.
I pray the Gospel reaches those that are still lost in that religion. Because they don’t know freedom in Jesus. They know control. That is no life to live.
Betcha didn’t know this was my history, my background. I hope you can’t see the traces of it in me, but I also love that it is part of my testimony and the grace of Jesus truly saving me.