To publicly show their identities in Christ, a pair of West Point cadets braved the cold waters of the Hudson River for baptism.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) shared that Brooke Parker and Zhaoxin (Jenny) Ma were baptized on Feb.12 by Joshua Austin, the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) director and NAMB missionary.
The students were reportedly given other options. They could either wait for a warmer weather or get baptized in the basement of their campus chapel. But both realized that the best option was doing it the soonest time possible in the New York river, despite the freezing cold.
"The basement almost felt like hiding my faith as few people would be able to attend and celebrate with me the good things God has done... This would eliminate a big opportunity to share this experience and Christ with others who may not have previously considered attending," Parker said.
"I didn't want to wait any longer to show others what God has done for me and what God can do, which is why I chose to get baptized in the icy waters. I couldn't wait any longer to show others all His greatness but also to proclaim to God that I am His, and I welcome Him into my heart, and I want to follow Him," Ma stated.
Ma came to Christ in the middle of her struggle with depression. A friend reached out to her, asking if she had ever considered turning to God.
She laughed at the idea initially and even called it "stupid," saying that "evolution and science made much more sense." Her friend then told about his story and though she did not believe in God at the time, the thought was planted in her head.
She started attending BCM meetings and chapel services but her mental condition worsened, causing her to get hospitalized for almost two weeks. At the hospital, she began reading the Bible and noticed that something changed in her. Prior to her confinement, she never thought about seeking help. But after her release, she scheduled appointments to ask for academic, medical and spiritual help.
During her appointment with Southern Baptist Chaplain Jose Rondon, Ma finally surrendered her life to Christ.
"Something inside told me it was time to, and that day, Chaplain Rondon helped me open my heart up to Jesus, and words cannot describe the amount of relief and joy I felt that day. I cried knowing I made it, that there is hope for a brighter future and a better life," she said.
Parker, on the other hand, grew up in a Christian home and received Jesus at a young age. But she turned her back from the LORD after experiencing challenges at her home and church.
In high school, however, she met Christian students who helped her believe in God again. During her military training, she continued meeting other believers who showed her how to live in Christ. Over time, she realized that God changed her attitude on repentance and developed a desire in her heart to be closer to Him. She then decided to get baptized after feeling that God was urging her to.
Parker shared that a lot of people, whom she does not even know, congratulated her after the event. She is hoping that her baptism will "sparked something" in the hearts of those individuals.
Ma revealed that she prioritizes her relationship with God and feels happier than ever before.
"I have fallen in love with life again, and it is because of God," she declared.