The baptism of the remaining two of a set of triplets over the weekend in Firestone led to 41 others, including children, youth and adults, to become baptized.
The event, which was held at the Lutheran Church in Firestone’s Division 43, brought together hundreds of worshipers as well as those from other churches and faiths. The occasion was marked by spirit-filled traditional Christian songs in Kpelleh, an inspiring sermon on the theme of Baptism, preached by the Rev. A. Ben Singbe, Holy Communion and Christian fellowship.
The triplets, Brownie Samukai, Joy and Dianna Tokpah (who later died) were born at the Du-side Firestone Hospital five years ago. Their arrival into the world coincided with the visit to the hospital by Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai, to see an ailing family member.
Minister Samukai became curious when the news spread that a young woman had delivered triplets and he promptly found the mother and her newly born boy and two sisters.
Minister Samukai discovered that the kids and their parents stood in need of so much help considering that the father was a rubber tapper in Firestone. Minister Samukai also learned that the couple, Esther and Jerry Tokpah, already had two other children. Mr. Samukai assisted them with some money and pledged to help them care for the children. He named the first of the triplets, a boy, after himself, Samukai.
The news of the triplets’ birth soon reached the Daily Observer and the Publisher, Kenneth Y. Best, and his son Bai Sama, found their way to Camp 43 to see the mother and triplets. But camp neighbors told them that the mother was still at the Du Side Hospital with her triplets.
The hospital staff graciously permitted the two Observer visitors to interview the mother and take photographs, and the story was published on the Observer front page the following Monday. The public immediately responded to the triple fortune of this poor family by sending in money, milk and diapers. From that point on, Defense Minister Samukai and Mr. Best started providing for the parents and triplets, regularly sending food, clothing and funds to help keep them going.
Unfortunately, one of the triplets, Dianna, who had been ill from birth, died at age three. The doctors found out belatedly that Esther Tokpah was giving birth to triplets, not twins. Dianna was, therefore, immediately placed into an incubator and her life was saved. However, the early oxygen loss had taken its toll and she unfortunately succumbed.
The plan of the parents, Esther and Jerry Tokpah, Minister Samukai and Mr. Best to have the children baptized and christened finally materialized on Sunday, June 11, the day on which the Firestone Lutheran pastor, Rev. Ben Singbe, became available to perform the christening.
In preparation for the joyous occasion, Minister Samukai took upon himself the task of having his household staff prepare a lot of food which was transported to the Camp 43 church. Minister Samukai had planned to participate in the occasion, but suddenly had to attend another engagement and asked Mr. Best to represent him at the christening.
Rev. A. Ben Singbe, Jr, delivering his message on the theme “Make Christ Known,” said too many preachers nowadays preach the pursuit of quick wealth and fortune, causing Christians to forget that all things belong to and come from God.
Taking his text from John 3:1-21 and Matthew 28:16-20, Rev. Singbe focused his sermon on baptism and told the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, the Jewish leader who came to Jesus by night to find out how he could obtain eternal life. Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Rev. Singbe recounted Christ’s answer to Nicodemus saying, “You have to be baptized by water and the Holy Spirit—that is the meaning of being born again.”
Rev. Singbe then expressed his regret that many people are refusing baptism only because they think it is a difficult thing for a sinner.
He then called on all present, children and adults alike, to come forward and be baptized.
Rev. Singbe regretted that one of the triplets, Dianna, did not survive sickness and died in her third year of life, “but Brownie and Joy are blessed and stand here today to receive baptism and proper moral upbringing and love from all those around them at all times.”
Mr. Best thanked Rev. Singbe for his inspiring message and re-emphasized the critical importance of baptism.
“I cannot tell whether I will wake up tomorrow morning, and none of you in this church today can say whether you will survive until tomorrow. Is that correct?” He asked the congregation. There was a resounding “Yes.”
Mr. Best then challenged every adult present, every young person in the church and all parents to bring their children to be baptized, and give them a chance to receive Jesus and gain eternal life. “Don’t take a chance, come now and be baptized. You do not have to be dressed in white. Christ is looking at your hearts, not your clothes,” Mr. Best admonished.
Immediately, dozens of people came forward including the entire choir and many adults who with their young children came forward to be baptized.
So in addition to Brownie Samukai, his sister Joy and their two older siblings, 37 others were baptized.
Esther and Jerry Tokpah, thanked Minister Samukai, Mr. Best and their families for putting smiles on their faces, particularly when society had looked down on them because of their material poverty.
Mr. Jerry Tokpah is a rubber taper at the Firestone Plantation, and he and his wife also have an 11 year old daughter, Cecelia, and Peter who is 8 years old.