A Dangerous Baptism
In 2015, Elliott Harris developed a spinal cord bleed caused by a faulty blood vessel resulting in his paralysis. Elliott, age 18, requires a ventilator to breathe.
So when Elliott told his parents he wanted to be baptized, they hesitated – because it was potentially dangerous to his health.
“He said, ‘Mom, it’s going to happen,’” reported Ernie Harris, Elliott’s father.
Chellie Ison explains the potential problems and the plans that were made to prevent them:
If any water were to get in Elliott’s tracheotomy, just a few drops could have dire consequences. So his dad went to work, meeting with medical professionals to figure out a plan for the baptism that would keep his son safe.
The strategy was elaborate. Church members set up a large, inflatable pool in the auditorium that would allow Elliott to be lowered on a stretcher by a group of volunteers. His family wrapped his tracheotomy opening with multiple layers of waterproof material and a cloth to soak up any water that might get through.
“We knew if we got him in the pool on a board, it was just one, two, three — straight down and up,” Ernie Harris said.
Paramedics were on hand for the baptism — just in case they were needed.
Elliott’s older brother, Luke, was baptized on the same day — a mere 48 hours before he left for training in the U.S. Navy. Immediately after Luke was baptized into Christ by his father, he joined the group of men who carried Elliott into the water and quickly immersed him.
To the joy and delight of all who were present – and many others who understand its significance – Elliott’s baptism was completed without any problems.
And the angels in heaven rejoiced, too!
Michael Jones, minister for the East Point church of Christ, reflected on this historic occasion: “It was beautiful to see so many people working together to overcome the obstacles of Elliott being baptized. Elliott wasn’t healed physically that day, but he was healed spiritually, and that is the healing that matters most.” *
Why go to the risk? What is so significant about being baptized into Christ? Why is it such a joyous occasion? Why should YOU be baptized?
Because baptism places a penitent believer into Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
Outside of Christ, we are lost in our sins (cf. Ephesians 2:11-12). But Jesus died on the cross as payment for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). When we place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), make the good confession (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38), our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Acts 22:16) and we are added to the family of God (Acts 2:41, 47). Then, as we continue to follow Jesus in the light of His Word, His blood continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Elliott understood that being baptized into Christ and following Jesus are worth any risks. What an example for you and me.
Won’t YOU trust and obey Christ?
-- David A. Sargent
* From “After Paralysis, A Spiritual Healing” by Chellie Ison in The Christian Chronicle (July 2017). http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/after-paralysis-a-spiritual-healing. Click on this link to learn more about the Harris family and watch the video of the baptisms of Luke and Elliott.
David A. Sargent