A thirty-two-year-old Chinese backpacker baptised in Scots Memorial Church

by Shaonan Li (Vanessa) 

 Scots Memorial Church baptised a Chinese backpacker in an inflatable swimming pool on 13 January 2019.

Scots Church minister Graham Sturdy told us that Wally was the first adult he baptised during the three years of his serving time.

“I was a Church minister for 27 years in England. I baptised hundreds of children,” He said, “Wally was only the fifth adult that I baptised.”

“I think the congregation are all thrilled. It is an old congregation, so, to get somebody younger to come along who wants to find out more is really encouraging.” He said.

Mr Sturdy told us after Wally’s baptism, Roane, who was another member of the congregation came to say that he also wanted me to baptise him.

“He was brought up in a Catholic church which believes baptism is only done once in a person’s life, so I wouldn’t been allowed to baptise him again.

“On Sunday morning we did a re-affirmation of his baptism. He was remembering of it in front of the whole congregation.

“He baptised his hand in the water and he made the sign of the cross on himself, so I wasn’t baptising again. He was pleased he was able to do that.” Graham said.

“Some churches prefer to baptise adults so that the adult can make the decision by themselves, which is what I agree with.” Graham said.

Wally did not have any religious belief before he came to Australia. He said he would do some praying in Buddhist temples, but he did not really believe in Buddhism. He read Confusion and Taoism and got some philosophy ideas, but he did not see them as religions.

“When I was in China I have met some Chinese Christians who always talked about hell, heaven and sins,” Wally said, “they made me uncomfortable.”

“When I made up my mind to come to Australia for a working holiday, I started to read Bible just for learning the Western culture. It was interesting that I found some connections between stories in Genesis and in Chinese myth.” Wally said.

“In China we have a similar story with Noah Arch and the creation of human being,” He further explained, “We have a lady with a body of serpent created the human being with mud. We also have the story of a man who built a huge boat and invited other people and animals to escape from the flooding.”

Wally told us he started to go to a Chinese Church in Melbourne to learn more about Christianity in his native language, but later he found he could not agree with some of the ideas such as to against same-gender marriage, so he decided to leave.

“What brought me to Uniting Church was their understanding of Bible.” Wally said, “they interpreted the Bible with love.”

“I thought my baptism would be a rebirth. I think it was the start for the obligation to be a person who understands the world with love.

“After baptism I found a sense of belonging and want to be more engaged in society. I started to care about social issues.”

Mr Sturdy said, “There are some churches do things to attract younger people, but often those churches will tell you what to believe. I often wonder why younger people are attracted to that rather than the church that helps you to explore what you might believe.”

“I am pleased that Wally found there is the freedom here in Australia to choose your faith without any pressure. It made the church richer by having people with different backgrounds.” He said.