Special Needs and the Topic of Baptism

This past Sunday our pastor’s message was on the topic of baptism. I thought it was a good sermon with a lot of important information for Christians. Having grown up in the church, I have always understood the importance of baptism and that it signifies I identify as a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I became a father, I could not wait for the day my son would become a Christian and get baptized.

I looked forward to sharing the Gospel message with him.

I prayed that I would get to lead him in the prayer of salvation on the day he decided to accept Jesus Christ as his savior.

I dreamt of being the person getting to baptize him.

My enthusiasm, prayers, and dreams changed after he was diagnosed with autism. Instead of looking forward to the day he would become a Christian and be baptized, I now wondered if this would even happen.

I wondered if he would be able to understand the Gospel message. I questioned if he would be able to admit that he is a sinner and ask Jesus Christ into his heart as his personal savior. I prayed that God would give him the ability to understand this is the most important decision he will make in his life, because it impacts his eternity.

If he is able to understand and make this decision, would a church allow him to publicly profess his faith through baptism?

This question has plagued me because of the reception we have received at churches in the past. We currently attend a church that has a special needs ministry, so I know they see the value in ministering to individuals with special needs.

What I don’t know is the staff’s belief about baptizing individuals with special needs.

I can appreciate that this topic does not have an easy answer.

I know pastors want to be certain people comprehend the decision they are making for Christ. I also know how difficult it is for those with autism, and other special needs, to verbally express their thoughts and feelings, especially to people with whom they are unfamiliar.

I don’t know the best way to handle this scenario for families of individuals with special needs, but I do know it is something that pastors should be prepared to address. I pray that pastors would be open to discussing this topic with special needs families in their church.

Please look past our children’s diagnosis and see them as Jesus does, people worth dying for on the cross!

Reality is, Christian parents of children with special needs want the same thing as Christian parents of typically developing children. We want to experience the joy and celebration of seeing our children accept Jesus Christ as their savior. We want to know their eternity is secure in the hands of God. We want to witness our children be baptized in our churches.

Our pastor closed his sermon with several scripture verses about the importance of being baptized and the one that stuck with me most is Acts 10:47. “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?”

I hold on to the hope that one day I will baptize my son!

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