Baptism & my children: going Ukrainian

One thing that only recently dawned on me is that, when I was choosing Ukraine in missions and marriage … well, whenever I imagined my children, I imagined them like me, American. I didn’t see coming that they would be so involved in and influenced by Ukrainian life and culture. They are, much more than other children who have two American parents.

So one way this has touched us is in the question of baptism. I am surprised how Vitaliy and I have never even discussed this, at all, ever, not before nor after we married.

I think I just understand, after 17 years in Ukraine, why Ukrainian churches do baptism like they do, so I don’t even really mind it being that way for my kids.

So, in Ukraine, no one is baptized until about 15 years of age, maybe a bit earlier, in some cases, but even 15 is young.

Considering the persecution they used to live under, I understand this. It was a very responsible choice. I am not familiar with Mennonite beliefs/practices, but it might be influenced by that, too, as they historically had a big influence in Ukraine, too.

Baptism here gives one the ability to 1. be a church member 2. take communion, 3. marry another believer.

But another thing is that they don’t really evangelize children, by that I mean, pressing children to pray a sinner’s prayer or things like that. They teach them the Bible, memorize verses, but they don’t press them to make a decision.

At 43, I’m OK not judging that. I haven’t pressed my own children, though, and that is probably a result of Ukrainian culture on me. And my own experience of having a child’s faith for many years, but not saving faith until around 12 years old.

I teach my kids the Bible, that they are a sinner, and Jesus is their Savior, not only from the punishment for their sin, but from the sin they want to do right now. I assume they will be saved, and I speak to them that way, and frame it also as a choice they need/will need to make. They want to believe in the gospel, and they do to the level each is able. It’s kind of hard to put all this into words.

But I wanted to write it out somewhere, because I was recently talking to someone in an international marriage, about how we have adopted the culture of my husband in this issue. And she’d never thought about how they were going to address that either.

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