More than one year ago we were tabling on campus at the New Student Orientation and I met a young man named Aten from Papua. He had just arrived in the US two days earlier and was now getting ready to start classes in the Global Launch program. This is an intensive English program designed for international students to be immersed in the English language and culture. As I was talking with Aten I invited him to our Thursday Ministry night. He seemed eager to come and I thought for sure I would see him at the first gathering of the semester. However, it took weeks for Aten to adjust to the US and university life.
Near the end of the first semester he eventually came to the ministry night. I was so happy to see him and I could tell his English was improving. Soon Aten was there every Thursday. He worked hard during the English lesson to pronounce the words correctly and learn as much as he could about the topic of the night. During the bible lesson portion he intensified his concentration and was truly engaged.
Over time I could hear sparks of faith in Aten’s answers. This began a series of long conversations with him about faith and baptism. Aten graduated from the Global Launch program in December and was now ready to enroll in ASU as an official student.
In early January Aten sent me a text message asking if I could help him and a friend move from the Tempe campus to the Polytech campus. I agreed to pick them up and drive them across town with their belongings. During the long drive I was making small talk and then there were a few moments of silence as I waited to see if Aten would bring up a subject. Well he did! He said, “I’ve been thinking about what you said.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I was focused on traffic. I began to explore the meaning of what he said when I realized he was talking about baptism. Then he just blurted it out, “I’m ready to be baptized.” So with great joy I contacted one of the pastors on the board of Lutheran Ministry at ASU and began to discuss how to proceed with Aten’s baptism. Aten was baptized on Easter Sunday.