W. From TV: When did you knowingly accept Christ for the first time?
RM: That must have been about the third grade.
W. From TV: So young, what happened?
RM: I said a bad word, a really bad one. I said the word you weren't allowed to say in front of my mom. So I knew I had sinned and that I had separated myself from God. So I was baptized.
W. From TV: Well I don't care when you were baptized I want to know when you became a Christian.
RM: When I was baptized, my sins were taken away and I was given the Holy Spirit. That's an awful lot like becoming a Christian to me.
For Rich, baptism was not just symbolic. It was an integral part of his saving faith. He agreed with St. Peter who stated that baptism is indeed salvific. (1 Peter 3:21) In fact there are several Bible verses which point to the necessity of baptism for salvation. (See: Mt 28:19-20; Jn 3:5; 4:1-2; Acts 2:28; 22:16; Rom 6:3-4; Mk 16:16; Titus 3:5; Eph 5:26)
The point however is that Rich was certain that his baptism was the beginning of his life long journey with God and provided him with the grace of conversion again and again. Consider these words which Rich shared during his final tour before the end of his life:
It used to be I only got born again every year, about once a year. That was when I was going to camp you know you go every year and get born again again. Those of you who are young enough to go to camp and rededicate your life every year, keep doing it. Because by the time you get to college you’re gonna have to re-dedicate your life about every six months. Then you’ll graduate from college and it will become a quarterly thing. By the time you’re in your 40’s and 50’s you’ll do it about four times a day.