Faith Conversations: 'Misplaced' find new life, freedom in baptism
The newly-baptized men at Fargo's River of Life Church would prefer to think of themselves not as homeless but "misplaced." Though the former term relates to how they ended up at the New Life Center, where the church meets, it no longer describes...
The newly-baptized men at Fargo's River of Life Church would prefer to think of themselves not as homeless but "misplaced."
Though the former term relates to how they ended up at the New Life Center, where the church meets, it no longer describes their soul. Thanks to Reverend Nenkawah Gbeintor, they now have a secure anchor in the Lord.
"The devil wants to isolate you and burn your bridges so no one can cross over to you," Gbeintor says, adding that in baptism, the soul becomes unchained.
"It's like a cold Gatorade on a hot day," he says. "When you go down into that water, whatever dirt you've gone through, it's done. You're free to walk in liberty."
In the past six months, Gbeintor, or Pastor Barnabas, says he's presided over nearly 40 baptisms of those who otherwise might be on the streets, possibly in a haze of alcohol or drugs.
Mohammed Abdillahi, only 22, first came to the United States around age 4, after being given away by his birth parents to another family, along with his older sister.
It was a life of instability and frequent moves. "We kept having to restart our lives over and over," he says.
When his sister was kicked out of the house around age 12, Abdillahi says he felt abandoned by God and soon turned to drugs, alcohol and a life of lawlessness.
"I was just a bad kid, ever since I was little," he says. "I eventually started other drugs, even meth, to cope with all of the pain. I was lying about my whole life story, saying horrible things to cover up other horrible things."
One night, after getting into an argument with someone in Valley City, he started walking back to his home in Fargo, and, intoxicated, was hit by a semi.
"It was carrying 26,000 pounds, and I'm only 140 soaking wet," he says. He flew "15 to 20 feet into the air."
Lying on the side of the road with a broken leg, Abdillahi started talking to God. In time, he was rescued and flown by helicopter to a hospital, where his physical healing began.
Inside, he was still a wreck, he says, until a job opportunity came along that he really wanted. He pleaded with God, promising that if things worked out, he'd be baptized a Christian.
The job was granted and so was the baptism.
"God took away the drinking, drugs, lying and even the cigarettes," Abdillahi says. "Now I read the Bible and go to devotions every morning. I'm at peace now. I believe God heard me that night and saved me, knowing it would lead to this moment."
Now, as an usher at River of Life, he greets guests at the 10:30 a.m. service Sunday mornings.
"He wants to be a pastor," Gbeintor says. "This is living proof that the Bible works. With patience and love, it works and it can happen to anyone."
Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email email@example.com .