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Reflections on a Child's Graduation by Eric Zahnd

Later this month, our oldest son Benjamin will graduate from high school.  His mother Tracy and I hope we have done at least a few things right to prepare him for the independence that will accompany his journey into adulthood.

But we haven’t been alone in our efforts to help a boy develop the attributes he will need as he begins to experience the additional freedom and responsibilities associated with life outside our home.

Rather, Second Baptist Church has been with our whole family for Benjamin’s entire life.  

Benjamin began attending church with us within a week or two of his birth, being rocked with love by the wonderful people who have served the youngest in our faith community.

He then worked his way through our children’s ministries, learning during Bible study, singing and playing handbells with the music department, and participating in various missions activities.

More recently, he has benefited from our student ministry, grappling with all sorts of interesting issues during Bible studies, attending youth trips, and occasionally assisting his mother as she taught young children in Mission Friends.

Perhaps the most impactful experience for Benjamin was a mission trip to Thailand in 2014.  Together with his mother, brother, and me, Benjamin spent more than a week with our ministry partners at the Upland Holistic Development Project in Northern Thailand.  Although he battled a stomach virus during much of the trip, he looks back fondly on the experience.  Even now, I doubt he can fully articulate the transforming experience for a child who, by international standards, was born into great wealth to observe firsthand the struggles of third world poverty.

Indeed, with the exception of Sundays when we were traveling for vacation or because Benjamin was playing in a youth baseball tournament, Second Baptist Church has been a weekly part of Benjamin’s upbringing.

Benjamin’s connection with Second exemplifies our church’s cultural touchstone: Belong. Believe. Become.

Benjamin belonged to Second Baptist from his infancy.  Of course, unlike those of us who are adults, he did not originally have any choice as to whether he would belong to our congregation. Nevertheless, if you asked him, he would tell you that he feels deeply attached to this church, which has had a significant impact on who he is today.

Benjamin came to believe the essential tenets of Christian faith at Second.  Despite literally growing up in our church, he was not baptized until he was well into his teen years. He would tell you that while he considered himself a “Christian” from a very young age, he only felt the call to baptism once he had developed a sufficient understanding of Christianity.  What a gift from Second Baptist that it nurtured—and continues to nurture—his developing faith.

To be sure, Benjamin has become stronger in his faith with each passing year at Second.  He would tell you that Second is central to his faith journey.

So on behalf of our family, we thank you, the entire congregation of Second Baptist Church, for your vital role in shaping Benjamin Zahnd’s faith as he steps into adulthood.

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