There’s so much to celebrate as the lost are found and God brings the dead to life.  Continue praising God with us for all the believers who publicly proclaimed their faith this past weekend!

Rachel Hager was baptized on Saturday night, and here’s her story:

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15: 4-7

Hey, my name is Rachel Lee Hager, but my family and friends call me “Raylee.” I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelors of Science degree in General Biology and completed the Life Sciences Scholar’s Program. I had the privilege of cheering on my fellow Terrapins as a member of the UMD Cheerleading squad. Now, I am applying to dental schools with the hope of restoring smiles. On the weekends, I volunteer as a “Princess” in costume for outreach and charity events.

Growing up, I have always known God, for I grew up in a religious household where we said grace before each meal, prayed before bed, and Sundays were devoted to church. But I really just went through the motions. During service: sit, stand, sign of the cross, and I would listen to the gospel readings with glazed over eyes and un-open ears, not truly grasping the words and their meaning. And alas, somewhere in the mix, between sports’ practices, playdates, and birthday parties, faith lost priority.

Sin was inevitable. I had a strong desire for acceptance. With time, I began to party and drink more rigorously. As a result of these actions, I faced extreme embarrassment, shame, selfishness and guilt. Relationships suffered. With social pressures and Satan working against me, I lost myself. I was the lost sheep in Luke 15, and my life had an emptiness that no drink, pleasure, prosperity or manly power could fill.

On September 6, 2015, I attended my first AA meeting. In a desperate plea for help and guidance, God showed me mercy and restored my faith. Through His will, I was able to obtain sobriety and see the ray of light in my darkness. Despite depression and anxiety, I am hopeful, and I have peace of mind because I know that even when I am physically alone, He is with me every step of the way, in everything I do.

Now, I take pleasure in attending services with family and volunteering in kidZone on Sunday mornings. I am currently seeking to join a young adult, small-group bible study and expand my faith.

I felt called to go on a God-glorifying ministry experience. In years past, I was blessed to travel internationally with my family for relaxation and recreational purposes, but this summer will be different… I was chosen to devote my time and energy to serve others in Uganda and share the Gospel.

From July 5-17, our team will be working side-by-side with AIDS Orphan Education Trust (AOET), which focuses on providing healthcare, empowerment programs, and education for vulnerable women and children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Our church partners with AOET financially and on the ground in Uganda through direct skills transfer and ministry. We will be training the teaching staff to prepare the secondary school students for higher education and career building via sponsorship programs.

While spreading His message, I hope to expand my own faith and understanding of our God through daily prayer, Bible readings, and commitment to fellowship. Please, join me on this journey and send me off by offering your support through prayer.

You can pray that I have a servant’s heart, that I faithfully obey the Great Commission of God, that I may go to the nations, receive the power of the Holy Spirit and be Jesus’s witness. Pray that I may open my mouth and speak with clarity and impact to offer His undeniable love, patience, and holiness to Ugandans. I ask that you trust in His plan for me and pray that I walk in wisdom and discernment. Additionally, please pray for the AOET staff, the community and local churches, that God would prepare their hearts for His grace.

I am confident that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I am ready to publicly announce my love for the Lord. I am ready to be born again, with Jesus in my heart and a fire in my soul for the Gospel. This is who I am. I am here to spread the message of God’s loving grace with the world.

Baptism at Grace

During all worship gatherings on Baptism Weekends, we celebrate the very reason we exist as a church: Christ’s mission to make disciples, baptizing and teaching in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20). We share testimonies of how Jesus changes lives now and for eternity. And the best part… we baptize with a joy that’s out of this world!

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