From David Baker: On June 21 I had the privilege of baptizing five new members in Kolkata, India.
They learned about the Church and what we believe through our member in Kolkata, Tarun Ghosh, whom I baptized in January 2008. For a number of years, Tarun has been working with a not-for-profit organization in the Sundarbans helping to educate the underprivileged people of that community.
The Sundarbans is a group of low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal. Spread between India and Bangladesh and famous for its mangrove forests, this active delta region is one of the largest in the world, measuring about 40,000 square kilometers.
This area is approximately three hours from Tarun’s home. Tarun has a passion for God’s way of life and freely shares what he believes with others. As he worked with people in the Sundarbans, some of them began asking him about his beliefs. They noticed that though he is a Christian, he didn’t observe Christmas. Tarun explained some of his beliefs, and they wanted to know more. They asked him to come and teach them. Tarun downloaded articles from the Life, Hope & Truth website and then translated the material into the Bengali language.
Since some of the individuals were from a Seventh-day Adventist background, they were eager to learn about the holy days. Tarun consulted with me about what to do, and he began systematically teaching them from LHT for more than 3½ years. He visits this area at least one Sabbath a month, as well as on the holy days. I met the group for the first time in July 2018. In September 2018 several asked to be associated with COGWA. Tarun explained the process of becoming a member of the Church. I provided Tarun with lots of material on baptism, and he covered the material (translating it into the Bengali language) with some of them. I met the individuals on June 21, counseling with them for a good portion of the morning, and later baptized three of them.
In 2012 Tarun’s wife, Seema, had a stroke while being treated for cancer, and the stroke left her paralyzed on her right side. (Seema was baptized by David Jackson in 2015 at the Feast in Kolkata.) Tarun had to hire helpers to look after Seema while he continued his job as a teacher at a private precollege school in Kolkata. One of those helpers, Sunita Gure, observed Tarun and Seema’s way of life and began to inquire about their beliefs, as their way of life was very different from her Roman Catholic background. (Sunita is also from the Sundarbans area, but her home is approximately five hours from the Ghosh home. In 2009 Cyclone Aila hit the area in which Sunita lives, and she survived by clinging to the top of a mango tree from 6 p.m. until the following morning.) As she got to know the Ghoshes, she became more interested in the Church. For the last two years, Sunita has attended the Feast of Tabernacles with COGWA as she cared for Seema. That led to Sunita asking even more questions. Tarun began explaining the beliefs of the Church, and Sunita began to accept those beliefs. About a year ago, Sunita’s son, Ranajit Gure, became interested in the Church because of discussions he had with his mother.
Sunita and Ranajit also requested to be associated with the Church. Tarun contacted me about their request, and he began covering the material on baptism. I baptized both of them also on June 21. Tarun assisted me with all of the baptisms to ensure that we fully buried each person in his or her watery grave!
As I reflect upon the baptism of these five individuals, I am struck by the impact of the personal example of Tarun and Seema. Their light had a positive impact on a small group of people that ultimately led to five new people being added to the Church in West Bengal, as well as others also expressing an interest in the Church. It is like a modern-day story from the book of Acts.