Dunk in the Name of Love

by Isaiah Sheese


Baptism is usually a fairly traditional ceremony. It involves a baptismal, a preacher, and a person who has made a life change and wants to openly declare it to the public. You’ll find that some denominations sprinkle, while others pour. And there are those who dunk. Not just dunk, but mass dunking all at once, rapidly, and with loud celebrations that follow. I had the honor of being one of the Rev. Dunkers when I worked for Lifechurch.tv.

It’s true, I participated, but it wasn’t what I did that’s worth rehashing. It’s what I witnessed. The incident went like this: Two swimming pools situated in the entryway of the church, four dunkers, four dunkees, and a camera man piping all the action into the main sanctuary. Seems relatively harmless and fun, until one of the dunkees tries to get away.

Everything was running so smoothly, one devotee right after another. It was a beautiful thing until the last victim stepped down and into the pool. She did this of her own choosing, what they call free will. So when I say victim, I’m not implying one being taken advantage of, but rather one whose fear permeates so deeply that it evokes an awkward situation and she becomes one. A victim, that is.

The terror on her face seeped through her pores until I could feel it pulsing in the water. She was about 40, thin, and as her feet hit the water her whole body stiffened just like a board. I quickly opted out of this one and stood back to watch the professionals.

Pastor Todd Roy was no beginner at baptizing. With hundreds—maybe even thousands—of baptisms under his belt, he stepped up to the plate quickly and confidently without skipping a beat. He moved toward her gingerly with his hand out-stretched. She took his hand almost out of desperation. Calmly and compassionately, Pastor Todd debriefed her and tried to alleviate some of the terror on her face, but it didn’t seem as if any of the words could even slightly dissolve the fear. With no time to waste and a thousand people watching in the auditorium, Pastor Todd knew intimately that the show must go on.

This is how it all went down:

He proceeded, in the scripted text, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” then began the process of easing her gently into the water. Only, she’s not going down. And not only is she not going down, she is fighting for her life, bobbing up and down, backwards, flailing arms, fighting like a drowning victim, trying to keep her head afloat before she is preyed upon by the Master Baptizer.

Todd follows her every move, then swiftly and at the right moment, he lurches into the air taking her with him, and like a killer shark feeding on a helpless seal, he fully immerses them both successfully into a thundering, tandem splash.

When Todd surfaces, he looks straight at me with victory in his eye, and says, “No one gets away from me!”