Celebrating Resurrection Sunday at CERC with the Baptism of Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ
29 May 2021
On 4 April 2021, Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) in Bandar Sunway celebrated Resurrection Sunday, which commemorates the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, as was foretold, 3 days after His death on the cross. This year’s Resurrection Sunday gathering featured two sessions — one in the morning and one in the evening — which drew a turnout of about 470 people, including those who tuned in online. It was befitting then, that it coincided with the baptism of 8 Christians into the family of Christ. As read from the baptism liturgy, “Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered death on the cross and rose again from the dead for our salvation. Baptism is the outward sign of all that God does for us in Christ. He unites us with Him in his death, grants us forgiveness of sins for His sake and raises us with Him to new life in the Spirit.”
Taking Special Precautions for Baptism During a Pandemic
Baptism candidates read from the liturgy
After the morning gathering for Resurrection Sunday, the baptism party proceeded to No. 32, the place where we house some of our church apprentices and their families, just across the road from CERC Central’s premises for the baptism ceremony. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, special precautions were taken. For example, this baptism ceremony was unique as it did not use the usual baptism pool seen in past years’ ceremonies. Using the same water repeatedly for multiple baptisms would heighten the risk of transmission. Instead, the church family got creative, and installed a mechanism that would allow baptism candidates to be drenched from head-to-toe in water instead.
The in-person baptism celebration was also smaller to abide by COVID-19 SOPs. It consisted of the candidates themselves, close family members and friends, their Christian witnesses who prayed for them, and church members who assisted with the ceremony. Elder Robin Gan led the ceremony and conducted the baptisms. The 8 sisters and brothers baptised were Choong Mun Vee, Jason Chang, Bryan Lee, Ng Han Shen, Ng Khai Ling, Tan Wei Wen, Yu Deying, and Joyce Pan. The baptism ceremony was broadcast live online, a first for the church, so that other church members, family friends, and the public could also witness it.
Baptism As An Important Moment For The Christian, But Not Always An Easy One
Mun Vee with her friends and family, after her baptism
For Choong Mun Vee, baptism was a long-awaited and highly anticipated moment in her journey as a Christian. Having initially come to faith in Christ at the age of 15, personal and family struggles alongside persecution meant Mun Vee was not able to publicly profess her faith through baptism for many years, until today.
“It was hard for me to go to church but I was determined to persevere on… I am a sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross. I am made righteous only through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and my life is now in Christ. I do not deserve this redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. But I thank God for His grace and mercy that the Gospel was made known to me and I am alive to live according to God’s holy purpose and to serve His church and kingdom!” said Mun Vee.
The baptism candidates were also accompanied by their Christian witnesses, close Christian friends who had walked with them throughout their journey in Christ and who prayed for them during the ceremony.
Samuel Tan prays for Jason Chang
Samuel Tan witnessed and prayed for Jason Chang, “I have known Jason since 2019 from Klang & Kota Kemuning Growth Group. Seeing him from the first day he heard the gospel as a non-Christian up till today, my Growth Group and I are so glad to be able to witness his baptism! My prayer for him is to never forget this bold stand he has made on 4 April 2021.”
Jason Chang, in turn, said, “Praise be to God who worked in me through His Spirit and opened my eyes through His Word. I am grateful to CERC for tirelessly preaching the Scriptures as faithfully as they can. This baptism is the result of a long time of learning and reflection on my total depravity in sin, God’s holiness and wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness, the need to treat God as God, His judgment and salvation, the need to bend the knee to His Son the King, the expectation of one’s response to the Gospel and more. I am happy to be here now and I pray that I will hold fast to the Word of life while looking forward to the day of Christ.”
For many, baptism is not an easy step to take; this is a relatable experience for Bryan Lee. “I’ve personally ran away from being baptised before as I couldn’t face up to my own inability and failure to live a good life under God. After some reflection with my Growth Group members and leaders, listening to sermons and reading God’s Word, I was humbly reminded that the gospel isn’t about myself but God’s concern for His holy name (Ezekiel 36:16-38). That reminder has led me to my conviction of wanting to be baptised and to stop running away from God anymore. Now that I’ve been baptised, it’s both very refreshing but at the time serves as a solemn reminder to continue and be consistent in clinging onto the confession that I’ve made to God and His church, CERC.”
For Ng Han Shen, being baptised lends even more weight to his convictions as a Christian. “I felt even more motivated to strive for godliness, as I now have a visual reminder of what it means to be freed from sin and live for God. After all, baptism is supposed to point to the spiritual reality of us being united with Christ in both His death and resurrection that free us from being under sin to being under God.”
“Moreover, baptism makes me appreciate being a Christian more profoundly, as saying “I am a Christian” feels weightier now. Of course, we mustn’t take Christianity lightly before baptism — it should be taken seriously at all times, but baptism makes this even more real to us. On a related note, I’m also more emboldened to preach the gospel now. Having already made a public declaration of being a Christian, why be afraid to proclaim the gospel to others now?”
Han Shen also had the opportunity to witness his close friend, Bryan, and his biological sister, Ng Khai Ling, being baptised together with him. “I’m happy for them, as they have also shown their commitment to be loyal to Jesus and hold fast to their new identity in Christ. Also, witnessing them being baptised makes me feel less alone when I go through hard times in ministry. They help me appreciate the corporate reality of God’s people better, as they help remind me that I’m not alone in serving Jesus amidst the repeated failures and persecutions we face.”
Baptism Symbolises One’s New Life in Christ, and Death to One’s Old Self
Khai Ling during her baptism, wearing black and immersed in water to symbolise death to one’s old self
Baptism not only symbolises one’s new life in Christ, but death to one’s old self as well. For Khai Ling, being a Christian now means living a life that is in line with the reality that one has died to sin, having been purchased by Christ to live a new life for God. As someone who once had a very different outlook in life, she now intends to turn away from living a life only to maximise her own happiness, or harbouring attitudes that go against God’s intended purposes.
Khai Ling said, “Being a Christian includes denouncing and renouncing the sinful life I once led and evil practices that does not glorify God, as well as showing a consistent zeal in learning God’s word, serving Him in loving His people and building up the church, proclaiming His rule to the people around us. It is to be the salt and light to the world as spoken of in Matthew 5.”
Tan Wei Wen also shared her thoughts on what it means to be a saved sinner. “I am a wretched, undeserving sinner, a white-washed tomb who deserves God’s righteous judgement. Nothing I do; not any of the good works I have done will save me or bring me to be right before a holy and righteous God because all of it is tainted by sin. Yet thanks be to Him that in His judgment He revealed His salvation through Christ, His beloved Son. I have been saved from my slavery to sin and His judgment to now serve Him for His glory and kingdom purpose.”
“I too have been looking forward to baptism as this is long-awaited to be done in the presence of my family to testify to them all that God has done throughout all these years. I am really thankful that on this special day, friends and family who have sowed the gospel seed lovingly and patiently were able to be there. I also hope that my baptism serves as an encouragement to the church family. May it also serve to honour God, as truly, He is the only one that can change hearts!” said Wei Wen.
Baptism Witnesses A Life Under Jesus Christ, The Resurrected Lord and Saviour
Yu Deying rejoices after her baptism, with a white shirt symbolising her new life in Christ, while Joyce Pan (right, background) awaits her turn. Pastor Robin (left, background) looks on.
Several baptism candidates also brought family and friends to witness their baptism. Yu Deying, who was accompanied by her relatives and friends said, “I felt really blessed to be able to be baptised today. It means a lot to me as I accept Christ into my life and to admit that Jesus is my King. I thank God for His grace that they (my family and friends) are able to witness this, and hopefully this baptism is a reminder to all that salvation has indeed come in Jesus Christ, for He is risen from the dead!”
Joyce Pan, too, had been looking forward to her baptism. “I have anticipated this day for quite a while, but plans kept being thwarted and the COVID-19 situation also affected it. It was awesome to finally be able to undergo this sacrament that my Lord ordained, and to be able to testify to the church and the world that I am committed to Him, renouncing the old me and the devil!”
She was also excited about being able to have her friends and relatives witness this important part of her life, and to hold her accountable to the confession she made on this day. “Although I wasn’t able to invite everyone I wanted to be here physically, like my parents who are out-of-state, those who supported me in my faith, or the many people whom I hold dear to me from my Christian Fellowship in IMU, they were able to at least attend virtually, thanks to technology today.”
CERC’s General Manager, Penny Lai, who helped organise the baptism also shared her experience on what it was like to organise the event. “We have waited for more than half a year for the opportunity to witness the baptism of our brothers and sisters. It wasn’t an easy call to make, to carry out baptism in the manner we did. Much discussion took place to align our theological stand with the practical aspects of such an event in a pandemic situation like this. Various considerations were made so as to ensure that we abide by the rules of the Movement Restriction Order and secure the health and safety of not just our members witnessing and organising the ceremony, but also the wider community that we live in.”
“I thank God for the team who have made this possible, particularly the technical services and support team who worked tirelessly to ensure that those who are watching the event virtually can witness and celebrate the Christ-empowered, Spirit-filled new life of our brothers and sisters”, said Penny.
As Jerome Leng, CERC’s Pastor-in-Training preached during the Resurrection Sunday sermon earlier in the day, “As a Christian, we do not live with our death as the end point of our lives, we live with the hope of meeting Jesus, and the hope of the blessed life we have through faith in Him. As we live in light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we remember the life that Christ gives, and truly BE the people of the Lord.”