One person suffered the loss of his wife and son. Another survived addiction and bad relationships. Some said they lost their way during their college years.
But their individual paths led to the same water, which filled a rented portable baptistry sitting in the middle of Austin Gardens in Oak Park Sunday morning.
Village Church of Oak Park baptized 12 people in the outdoor service. Approximately 170 people, some carrying picnic blankets and lawn chairs, attended. This was a departure from their usual Sunday service, held across the street at the 19th Century Charitable Association.
Each baptizee shared a testimonial before taking the plunge. While eight were scheduled, four others were moved to join them, compelled by the deep, buttery vocal tones of their pastor, Cisco Cotto.
Cotto described his own journey, which led to this day, his church's first baptismal ceremony. Less than two years ago, Village Church started in his living room with 18 members. Today, more than 100 people attend Sunday service.
"This baptism service is definitely a milestone," Cotto said. "Right now, it's a way for us to give thanks to God for what He has done in such a short time. In the years ahead, we'll be able to look back on this as just the start of something wonderful."