How I Renamed Six People in Two Minutes!

Sep 10, 2015 884

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I am in the middle, and the “new” Ana (my wife’s name) is on the right of the picture – after she received her new name.

It was a very awkward question! They were singing the last song before I had to get up to preach in a steamy and insect-infested village in Andhra Pradesh, when Pr Joseph took out a sheet of paper and a pen, turned to me and asked me,

“Pastor, what names shall we give them?”

“What???” I replied.

“The eight people who were baptised today are newly Christian, they need new names. We will give them new names now.”

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Duncan Wood with the “new” Caroline (the name of Duncan’s wife) after she received her new name.

I pondered this for a moment. My wife and I had thought for a long time before we named our children. But now I was being asked to come up with names for six people within a minute or two!

Some names came to mind, and I mentioned them to Pr Joseph. He replied,

“Too hard.”

I decided that they names needed to be, as far as possible, Biblical, and also simple to pronounce.

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Pastor Joseph and I encouraging the  baptismal candidates that morning, before their baptism in the river.

My wife’s name came to mind.

“Ana,” I said.

Pr Joseph dutifully wrote it down.

My daughter’s name was Rebecca, so I mentioned it, although I thought it was too hard.

“It is OK, pastor, we can say it,” said Joseph, as he wrote the name down.

The next name I mentioned was “Grace” (Duncan Wood’s youngest daughter). I thought that was simple enough and Biblical, so it made the cut.

And so it went on. Eventually I thought that since my wife was being commemorated, then Duncan’s wife should as well, and so, regardless of pronounciation issues, one of the ladies was called “Caroline.”

Soon, I was blessing each person and pronouncing the significant words, “Your new name is __________.”

The ladies (and men) were so grateful and humbled to receive their new names. They were overjoyed that they had been born again that day, and so it was the most natural thing in the world for them to also have new names.

You see, their previous names were “idol” names – in honour of the various Hindu deities. And these people had left that life, and that identity behind. Now they were new children of God! And Pr Joseph assured me that they would treasure and use these names from then on.

The practice of adopting a new name upon baptism dates back to early Christianity, and for the same reason – because people typically had pagan names. That’s where the term “Christian name” comes from. It was powerful to be part of this practice in modern times.

It reminds us just how true the words of the apostle Paul are,

…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Cor 5:17, NLT

I saw first hand how seriously people took their new identity in Christ. It challenged me to remember and renew my commitment to walk in this new life in Jesus. I hope this challenges you in the same way.

Jesus deserves no less because of his sacrifice and victorious resurrection for us.

– Eliezer Gonzalez

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