Ryan and Tyler's Baptism Story

By Isaac Harris
In eLetter
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For Nathan Thompson, Easter morning looked a little different this year. After visiting his in-laws a few hours away, Nathan hopped in his car and raced back to IBC—a last-minute addition to his holiday plans.

Two weeks earlier, Youth at IBC had hosted their annual For Our City weekend. During the weekend, 6th through 12th graders served with local mission partners, worshipped together, and spent time building community at host homes around the city. For a pair of 9th graders, what started out as a fun weekend with friends turned into an experience they would never forget.

Ryan and Tyler are both freshmen in high school who grew up at IBC. One in public school, one in homeschool, both spent the weekend worshipping and serving together at For Our City. The small group of 9th grade boys they stayed with knew each other before the weekend, but ended up forming an even stronger bond that would last beyond.

“We talked about things we typically don’t talk about,” Tyler said of their small group. “About life and faith and stuff. It got deeper. Talked about it in ways that I just don’t do.”

It was in those small group conversations that things started to click. They talked about the messages they just heard, the worship they had just experienced, and their relationship with Jesus. “I was listening to services and after talking about our faith something inside of me was like—get baptized,” Ryan said.

“It changed the way I view it,” Tyler said. “I never fully understood it. I have wanted to get baptized, but I didn’t fully know why. I want people to know that I follow Jesus and that He will be with me for the rest of my life. It kind of like hit me at For Our City. I gotta get baptized.”

The weekend ended and the boys went back to their families. Ryan immediately hit up the small group text. “I said in the group chat I am getting baptized, anyone else in the group want to?” Ryan said. “It would be cool to do it together.”

Two weeks later would be Easter Sunday—and the next time baptisms would be taking place at IBC. After some discussion with their pastors and families, the date was set. Tyler and Ryan would get baptized on Easter. And the question of who was baptizing them was a no-brainer.

Nathan Thompson began serving as a volunteer in IBC’s Youth ministry when Ryan and Tyler were in the 6th grade. The youth group was needing some help with worship and Nathan graciously stepped in. That next year, Nathan became a leader for 7th grade boys and would eventually move on with the same group as they entered high school.

“After 8th grade, they asked me at small group if I was going to stick around with them and they wanted me to,” Nathan said. “So I did.”

After years of building relationships with that group of boys, now it was time to see them get baptized. And to Nathan’s surprise, he was the one person they wanted to baptize them.

“Nathan is awesome,” Ryan said. “He has been with us so long. If anyone is going to baptize us, it has to be Nathan.”

Even though Nathan had plans to see his in-laws a few hours away over Easter weekend, he knew he couldn’t miss this moment. So bright and early on Easter morning, Nathan hopped in his car and drove to IBC, listening to the worship service on the way. He admitted he had never baptized anyone before and was unsure of what to do, but it ultimately didn’t matter. “I haven’t done this before,” Nathan said with a grin. “But at the end of the day, it is about them and their commitment to Jesus.”

The boys talked about how cool it was coming up out of the water to a cheering crowd. Nathan smiled ear-to-ear talking about that same moment. “That is one of those validating moments when they want you to be there with them in high school and want you to baptize them,” Nathan said. “Sometimes you wonder as an adult if you are really getting through to them.”

For Ryan and Tyler, the relationships they built were integral to their decision to get baptized. Because of volunteers like Nathan and opportunities like For Our City, they were able to explore, understand, and express their faith in new ways. And while each baptism we celebrate together in Town Square is unique, all can serve as a reminder that God is at work. Around the world, in our city, and here among the people of IBC.

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