Years ago, our children moved to South Louisiana. All hot sauce and especially Tabasco sauce is a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC deal in South Louisiana. Therefore, we had to visit the Tabasco Welcome Center because it is one of their greatest tourist attractions. Both my husband and I loved the tour and the wholesome, HOT environment.
I’ve always enjoyed hot sauce as a condiment. But before our visit to that HOT Welcome Center, my husband refused to eat anything that was spicy hot. Even black pepper was banned from my kitchen, lest it accidentally fall onto his plate. After that visit, however, he became a Tabasco Sauce connoisseur. He purchased a Tabasco Sauce coffee cup and that became his favorite cup. He wanted Tabasco Sauce at the table for every meal,especially breakfast. He requested it at restaurants and sprinkled it liberally on his food.
His visit to the Tabasco Factory Welcome Center had transformed his eating.
Interestingly, I’ve found the same is true with Special Gathering. Most people are extremely hesitant to even visit our program. It is as though intellectual disability will fall onto them accidentally and they might catch something. Yet, if a person ever “visits our Welcome Center,” they are usually transformed. Our members and their inclusive, loving and enthusiastic ways become part of their cultural experience. They usually want to and do come back.
A retired pastor and his wife often visit our program. They have been immersed within the culture for years because their son is a popular young man within our community. Yet, they come to Special Gathering whenever he is not preaching somewhere else. They could attend any church but they chose to worship with our chapel members because the members love them and, in return, they have come to love our members.
In much the same way we jump into a pool on a hot, sultry day, each of us reaches into different experiences with a variety of reactions . Some are hesitant, creeping into the water slowly. Others dive in gracefully. Many simply jump, feet first. However, I’ve found that when a person is fully immersed in the pool water, they want to stay in the refreshing coolness as long as possible. It doesn’t matter how hesitant or forward they were in entering the experience.
The key to enjoying other cultures and new experiences may be immersed–or being baptized. Perhaps this the reason that the Lord insisted that baptism become a part of the Christian experience. There is no way to truly enjoy or become a real part of an experience without total immersion.