About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star.

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Mechack’s Baptism

I was incredibly lucky to meet Mechack Nyanzira just hours after his birth. I had just started my job as the religion and social services reporter, and I was working on my first story about Fredericksburg’s refugee population. Mechack’s mom, Jeanine, was one of those refugees. She lived most of her life in an African camp, giving birth to her first son there. Because of a paperwork mixup, she left her husband in a refugee camp and arrived in Fredericksburg, pregnant with their second son.

Today, Mechack was baptized at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg. So were his older brother, Moise, and his aunts and an uncle. In preparation for Mechack’s baptism, the children’s choir learned a hymn in Swahili, the language his parents speak. It was just amazing, watching the children march down the chapel, hearing them sing:

Mungu ni mwema

Mungu ni mwema

Mungu ni mwema

Ni mwema, ni mwema

The words translate to:

Know that God is good.

Know that God is good.

Know that God is good.

God is good, God is good.

My fingers literally itched to have a camera during the baptisms. The children were so excited (Mechack’s aunts and uncle are young). And Moise’s grin was so impish as the rector held him up after pouring the water on him. Mechack just stared solemnly at the Rev. Jim Dannals after the baptism.

After the ceremony, the family gave an impromptu performance of a Swahili hymn. As they stood and sang, Mechack’s godmother came up to translate for the congregation. Decked in a hijab and a broad grin, Munira Marlowe told the audience that the family was giving thanks for God who is so good and who blesses them and loves children.