She had been raised to be an atheist. Growing up in Asia, those around Jing taught her to be skeptical of any religious teaching. Still, a curiosity about Jesus rested deep inside her.
Last fall Jing, 23, moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in textile engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She soon met the Jones family through a program for international students with a desire to have dinner in an American home. When Jing discovered the Joneses were members of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, she asked if she could go with them to church.
Jing developed a strong relationship with the Jones family – particularly Teresa and her 23-year-old daughter, Alicia. For Jing, her experience in church, watching others worship and hearing about who Jesus “really” is changed her life.
“The songs … were so powerful,” she said. “When the pastor was praying I was so touched.”
In November, Jing overcame her initial doubts about Christianity and gave her life to Jesus. She was baptized Dec. 18, 2011. Teresa proudly keeps a photo of Jing gripping her first Bible – a gift that was given to her to celebrate her baptism.
“The change I’ve seen in [Jing’s] life has been astounding,” said Teresa, who also works as executive assistant for administration at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
“God was already at work in her life. It’s God’s work, and we happen to be walking along a part of it.”
Jing refers to her decision to abandon her atheistic upbringing and follow Jesus by simply saying, “God changed my mind.”
Baptisms in 2011
Last year Jing represented one of 24,376 baptisms that were reported by 2,844 N.C. churches.
That number of baptisms exceeds the 23,756 baptisms reported for 2010. If broken down, the average number of baptisms per church that reported their numbers in 2011 was 8.57 baptisms.
The results for 2011 were the highest number of baptisms reported since 2003, which was 25,154. The highest annual baptism total since 1990 was in 2002 with 28,169 baptisms.
“This is a phenomenal increase,” said Don McCutcheon, executive director of evangelism for the BSC.
“It’s my prayer we could see between 15 and 20 baptisms per church in the future.”
The top 10 churches in baptisms for 2011 included the following:
Elevation Church in Matthews reported 2,410 baptisms. Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden reported 460; The Cove Church, Mooresville, 362; The Summit Church, Durham, 359; Cleveland Community Church, Clayton, 279; Hope Community Church, Raleigh, 245; [see note below] Catawba Valley Baptist Church, Morganton, 217 [see note below]; Word Tabernacle Church, Rocky Mount, 214; Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte, 213; and First Baptist Church, Indian Trail, 213.
Two of the top international churches for 2011 included Hanmaum Church (a Korean congregation) in Durham with 51 baptisms. Christ Center Church (a Nepalese church) in Charlotte started up last year, and with 50 members, they reported 12 baptisms.
McCutcheon said he hopes to see churches become more evangelistic through helpful initiatives such as the Convention’s Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) and its Find it Here: Expanding the Kingdom emphasis, which focuses on missions mobilization and getting the gospel to those needing to hear it.
“We try to encourage churches to pray, to make connections, to engage lost people in fellowship and sharing the gospel,” McCutcheon said.
“We encourage them to give evangelistic invitations.
“Jesus did it.
“Paul did it. Peter did it. God did it.”
Approximately 5.6 million people – out of 9.2 million in the state – have not put their trust in Jesus Christ. Southern Baptists have a tremendous opportunity, McCutcheon said.
“If we’re going to impact lostness, we have to keep our churches here strong,” he said.
“An evangelistic church will be a mission minded church because they want to see the whole world won. They will start at home.”
For more information about Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) go to ncbaptist.org/iecs or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5557.
To find out more about Find it Here, go to finditherenc.org or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5571.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Baptism figures based on information available at time of publication.)
Correction (updated in the March 31 publication)
Please note that one of the churches listed has an incorrect baptism number. Catawba Valley Baptist Church in Morganton originally listed 217 baptisms but the actual number was 12. The list the Biblical Recorder published in print and online was compiled through Annual Church Profiles. We regret the error. The Biblical Recorder strives to maintain clear and accurate stories. Part of that is relying on submitted information. Please help us by checking information before it is sent.