Micheal Pardue’s commitment to fill his church’s baptistry on Sept. 12 was born out of prayer and faith.
“I made the commitment knowing that we might fill the tank but not have anyone yet to baptize,” said Pardue, who serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C. “I had already decided that if we fill up our baptistry but the Lord had not given us someone to baptize, I was going to keep it filled until He did.”
Pardue didn’t have to wait long to see God answer his prayer.
Just three days after committing to participate in the statewide “Fill the Tank” baptism initiative when it was first announced this spring, Pardue saw a young man in his church place his faith in Christ.
“The father called me excited that his son had made the decision to follow Jesus,” said Pardue, who also serves as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). “The young man is a close friend of my son, and it was a great moment to rejoice with his father.”
The “Fill the Tank” emphasis encourages churches across the state to plan to fill their baptistries on Sunday, Sept. 12, while praying, trusting God and being intentional about evangelism.
“We’re going to fill the tanks and believe in faith that God is going to save people between now and that day,” said BSC executive director-treasurer Todd Unzicker when he announced the initiative during the May meeting of the state convention’s board of directors.
At least two other pastors from different parts of the state saw the Lord move in similar ways after making similar commitments as Pardue.
On the Sunday following the board meeting, a young girl at Centerville Baptist Church in Kelly, N.C., approached pastor J. Allen Murray after the service to speak with him about her desire to be baptized. After some discussion about the gospel and the meaning of baptism, the girl came to understand that she needed to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, and she became a follower of Jesus.
“We talked about how baptism is your public declaration of faith and that it shows on the outside what God has done on the inside,” Murray said. “She was baptized four weeks later when her grandfather would be in town to witness it.”
On that same Sunday in late June, Murray also had the privilege of baptizing his oldest daughter who made a profession of faith in March.
“We had been talking with her about baptism and wanted to make sure she understood and was ready,” Murray said. “She approached us the week before and said, ‘I think God is leading me to be baptized.’”
Murray said he was amazed to see God move so quickly.
“Making the commitment to fill the tank on a specific day was a little out of my comfort zone, but God quickly showed Himself faithful, and answered my prayer to not only need the tank filled on Sept. 12, but even beforehand,” Murray said. “It is my prayer that we need to baptize between now and Sept. 12 and on that day, too.
“I’ve shared ‘Fill the Tank’ with my church, and they’re excited. We’re all praying together about the need to continually keep the tank filled.”
Shortly after answering the call to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Weddington, N.C., outside of Charlotte earlier this year, Jordon Willard and his wife, Veronica, began ministering to a 17-year-old girl in their congregation who had questions about what it truly meant to be a follower of Jesus.
On the Sunday after Willard committed to participate in “Fill the Tank,” the teenager came forward to express that she had recently repented of her sin and placed her faith in Christ and wanted to make her profession public through believer’s baptism.
The girl was baptized a few weeks later, which represented a milestone in the history of the congregation because it was the first baptism conducted on the church’s property.
In the years prior to Willard’s arrival, First Baptist Weddington conducted baptisms off-site because the current sanctuary was intended to be a temporary meeting space when it was originally built and does not have a permanent baptistry. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Willard recommended conducting the baptism on-site, borrowed a portable baptistry and prayed for good weather.
“It was an incredibly encouraging and joy-filled time for our church family,” Willard said. “We are praying that it’s one of many more.”
Willard formally introduced the “Fill the Tank” initiative to his congregation during a worship service in mid-July.
“While salvation belongs to the Lord, I’m constantly looking for fresh ways to challenge our people to fulfill the Great Commission, which is why I have chosen to commit to this initiative.” Willard said. “I believe ‘Fill the Tank’ is a creative and exciting way to challenge our churches to get even more serious about praying for the lost, sharing Christ with the lost and, by God’s grace, winning the lost to Christ and seeing them baptized.”
Just recently, First Baptist Weddington ordered a custom-built baptistry for its sanctuary, which Willard said is expected to be installed a few weeks prior to “Fill the Tank” Sunday.
“We’re praying and believing that we will be able to fill it up on Sept. 12,” Willard said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chad Austin serves as content strategist and editor at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)