Yesterday I was baptized here at my church in the U.S.
Below is the 2.5 minute testimony I shared to the congregation right before my baptism.
My name is Tabor Laughlin. I’m from Oklahoma, but I’ve been serving in China for eight years. My family & I are here for just this school year. I’m in the pastoral internship program at this church. We’ll be returning to China this coming August, Lord willing. I’ve been a believer now for about 11 years. For a while I counted my baptism as being when I was dunked in the Jordan River while traveling there at age 15. But the last year or two the Lord has showed me that I definitely was NOT a believer at the time when I was 15. I think I didn’t actually become a believer until around age 20, while in college. And I haven’t been baptized since becoming a believer. So I’m happy to be able to do that with y’all and officially become a member at this church.
For me, in my youth & into college, I was a slave to sin in the form of intense addiction and slavery to sexual sin and pornography. Also, because of a disease in my family, I was consumed by a fear of death. As Eph. 2:3 says I was previously ‘an object of God’s wrath’. I was separated from God and worthy of His judgment. So what changed? As Ps. 40:1-3 says, “God pulled me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud & mire. He set my feet on a rock & gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to Him.” This salvation came through Christ’s death. Christ was sent to earth to save God’s people, and through His crucifixion, He bore the punishment that I deserved to bear. By His wounds I was healed. In the same way that Christ subsequently was raised from the dead & defeated death, so all who believe in Him also are raised to new life with Christ and defeat death. Christ came to save all who would believe in Him. And even that belief is NOT from my own cleverness or godliness, but is a gift of God.
I don’t have any idea why he plucked me out of the mud and mire. He forgave me of my sins, cleansed me of my slavery to sin, & put a new heart in me to love Him. He freed me of my slavery of fear of death. Paul says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O’ death, is your sting?…But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” And elsewhere Paul says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor death, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38,39)