A Letter From Grenada
A Day at the Beach
IF YOU should ever receive an assignment to take up missionary service in a foreign land, you will find that the excitement is almost unbearable. Like a curious, wide-eyed little child, you wonder about the people, the surroundings, and the experiences that await you in the ministry.
When my wife and I were assigned to Grenada, which boasts a gorgeous coastline with some 45 beaches, we could not help but wonder what those beaches would be like. Soon we were to experience a happy day at one of them, but our happiness had more to do with people than with sun and surf.
It is a short drive from our home in Grenada to Grand Anse Beach—but what a beautiful drive it is! The road twists and turns, affording us some of the most scenic views imaginable. The hillsides are luxuriously green. Mountains, rain forest, waterfalls, and spectacular ocean vistas greet us at almost every turn. No wonder tourists from all over the world come to visit! The scenery is so beautiful that a driver has to be careful not to be distracted. The roads wind and weave and, at times, squeeze two-way traffic so close that you wonder how it is possible not to bump into oncoming vehicles.
We arrived at the Convention Trade Center, located along the road by Grand Anse Beach. Soon a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, numbering nearly 600, gathered for a joyful day of association and Bible instruction. The day was especially meaningful to Lesley and Daphne, a married couple in their 70’s. Lesley was to be baptized. Daphne had been eagerly awaiting this day for a long time, as she had been baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1958.
For the Witnesses, baptism—performed by complete immersion in water—has great meaning. It is a step taken when a person has gained an accurate knowledge of Bible truth and is applying it in his or her life. It is a public ceremony in which a person goes on record as having dedicated himself to Jehovah God.
I had been asked to address the audience to explain what the Scriptures say about baptism. At the end of the talk, Lesley stood up along with two others who were also to be baptized. He wore a nicely pressed white shirt, a tie, and a broad smile. I asked: “Have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?” You could sense the sincerity and devotion as he and the others answered with a heartfelt “Yes!”
Knowing Lesley’s background, I was particularly moved. For decades he had held back from studying the Bible. Then he and his wife visited another island. While there, they decided that they would each attend their own religious services. “You go to your church, and I’ll go to mine,” Lesley said to Daphne.
Lesley dropped Daphne off at the Kingdom Hall and went on to the Anglican church in the same neighborhood. When the church services ended, Lesley returned to the Kingdom Hall to pick up his wife. At the hall, he was surrounded by kind, friendly people who warmly welcomed him, though they had never met him before. That touched Lesley. At his church, no one had said a word to him. “I’m never going back to that church again,” Lesley told Daphne. “Not one person paid attention to me, not even the priest. No one greeted me. I walked in, and I walked out.” When Lesley walked out, he walked out for good.
After that, Lesley began a serious study of God’s Word. And now he was ready to be baptized. The baptism candidates were off to the beach, and we were close behind. With the ocean so near, there was no need to set up a baptism pool as is done at most conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here we just crossed the road.
The Grand Anse Beach is a stunning two-mile stretch of white sand with year-round warm blue waters. Tourists looked puzzled when they saw our group arrive at the beach, men dressed in shirts and ties, and women in dresses and skirts. Lesley had changed and was wearing a T-shirt and short pants. Imagine how Daphne felt to see her husband get baptized some 50 years after she had done so! The noonday sun was bright, and so was her smile. Even the tourists shared in the joy of the occasion. They joined in clapping as each one was baptized.
Blue skies, white sands, and gentle waves—this beach already gives glory to its Creator. It did so even more as the three newly baptized ones came up out of the water. Seeing them warmed our hearts more than the sun warmed our skin. The day was truly special. For Lesley and Daphne, this day at the beach was the best yet.