In a Ghanaian village, a baby girl was born to one of our church families. On the newborn’s eighth day, some significant events will occur.
First, the baby’s soft, curly hair will be shaved. Secondly, her ears will be pierced, denoting to the villagers that the baby is a girl. And, her parents will name her.
Naming a baby carries more significance than just a parent’s preference. In Ghanaian culture, a name means something. While many villagers have Muslim or Ghanaian names, a Christian family such as this one chooses a biblical name for their new child—a witness that the person will carry throughout adulthood.
In the case of this baby girl, the parents were considering the name “Mary,” an early little Christmas miracle.
When an adult chooses to follow Christ and become baptized, he or she will also choose a new, Christian name. There is no middle ground for these new, first generation believers. In a culture where families can belittle or cut off support from those who follow Christ, the believers take a stand anyway, choosing a name that tells everyone where their loyalties lie.
A new name at baptism is another symbol of the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
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