“After all the Lord has done in my life, why would I not obey His call to be baptized?”
Angela Jilek knew it was time to proclaim her faith in Christ. She had been praying for over a year that God would give her boldness to share about His work in her life, and the perfect opportunity arose — to share her testimony at Waves of Grace, Grace Church’s outdoor worship and baptism event.
“It was an answer to prayer,” she smiled.
If you know Angela, you know Jesus radiates from her. Her voice carries a calm confidence in Him, and her bright eyes are full of His joy. It’s magnetic.
That joy and deep-rooted confidence come from years of God transforming her with His love. Angela didn’t personally know Jesus until she reached adulthood. Through a difficult childhood, she grew up to be tough, cynical, and fiercely independent. She believed God was far away and unreliable. When she was 24, her father shot and killed her mother and then turned the gun on himself.
This shattered any illusion that Angela could control her own life. She was overwhelmed with the realization that she needed God. He grasped her heart with the Gospel and with His deep, relentless love for her — love that gave her hope, healing, and peace, even after unimaginable pain.
So she stood on a stage in front of nearly 1,000 people to share her story. Rain was anticipated that evening, but it stayed at bay, making for a beautiful night in the summer air. People came with blankets and lawn chairs and gathered in front of the stage and pools, ready to worship and celebrate God’s transformative work in the lives of those getting baptized.
“It was really special to me to have the opportunity to show what God has done in my life with all of those people,” Angela said, “and to encourage someone else who is going through something difficult — God can reconcile, heal, and redeem any situation.”
The crowd cheered when Angela reached the point in her story where she turned her life over to Christ. Her entire family came to support her, including her husband and four children.
“I just felt this joy coming off the stage,” she beamed. Grace Church staff in bright blue shirts surrounded and hugged her, encouraging and affirming the impact God created through her story.
She felt the same joy when she was raised out of the water. When she stepped out of the pool, her entire family enveloped her in a hug, telling her how proud they were of her. It was a moment stamped on her heart.
That night, nearly 100 people were baptized across Grace’s Eden Prairie and Chaska campuses. Between food and fellowship, worship and teaching — and most importantly, the celebration of lives made new — it was a night that will be long remembered. People surrounded the pools as their brothers and sisters in Christ were baptized, cheering on each person as they rose out of the water. It was electric.
In the days following Waves of Grace, God flooded Angela with His love.
“I’ve just felt His tenderness and affection,” she said. She quoted Ephesians 3:18, talking about how God leads us to a deeper and deeper understanding of the breadth, length, height, and depth of His love for His children as we grow in our walk with Him.
“When you’re obedient to Him, you experience more of His love,” she said. God indeed demonstrated that to her when she chose to follow His command to be baptized.
Angela was baptized as a child, but she knew that wasn’t her own choice. She’s sure there are people out there like her who have similar stories, but eventually, she says the choice becomes pretty simple. “Jesus gave up His very life for us, so if He said to be baptized, do it!”
Now that the event is over, Angela hopes that the Lord will continue to give her boldness to share her story and the Gospel with those around her. But the main message she wants to leave with us?
“If you think your sin is so bad it’s unforgivable, you don’t know how great His love is,” she said. “In the time before my parents died, I did lots of terrible things. When I turned my life over to the Lord, He forgave me and promised me a place in eternity with Him. There’s no sin He doesn’t cover.”
Truly, Angela’s story and public proclamation of faith are powerful examples of a life made new by grace and love. We can't wait to celebrate many more transformed lives at the next Waves of Grace!