IronMen of God members experienced a God moment when they had been discussing the idea of holding a baptism in the parking lot near their weekly meeting place — but they didn’t have a way of getting a baptismal font there. Enter Nick Ludovici, a man who has made it his mission to travel the country with his mobile
This chance meeting resulted in seven people getting baptized Sept. 23 in a hot tub-sized baptismal loaded onto the back of a flatbed trailer, which was parked outside 4Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Garden.
The group holds meetings on Friday mornings, either for IronMen Connect at 4Rivers, on West Colonial Drive, or IronMen Coffee at Pilars Loft, in downtown Winter Garden. Members hear different speakers, many of whom share their faith walk.
“You’re hearing real-life stories of how these real-life people relate to Christ,” said Dale Reynolds, a member of IronMen of God.
Members and guests sit at themed tables, such as entrepreneurs, veterans, first responders, first-timers and folks in recovery. Intimate table discussions are a part of the meetings, and the men are able to share relatable experiences.
Founder David Hill and the IronMen staff decided that on the occasional fifth Friday, instead of holding their table talks, the men would go out and do something together, maybe have breakfast or lunch together, “to interact away from this space,” Reynolds said.
“I was sitting in there six months ago, and I came up with this idea — maybe there are people in this room who have never been baptized or never had the opportunity to be baptized.”
Reynolds approached founder David Hill with this idea of a fifth-Friday baptism and then enlisted the help of another member and friend, Curt Myhre. The two began working on the details of the project.
Plans were in the making for several months, Reynolds said, and the other members knew about the idea and were in favor of it — but they had not figured out a way to get a baptismal to the 4Rivers parking lot.
“Garden hose?” Myhre suggested. “Horse trough?”
A GOD MOMENT
“This guy shows up to IronMen … and sits at the first-timers table,” Reynolds said. “He says, ‘I’ve got a portable baptismal … and I drive around the country with it on the back of my flatbed truck.”
Ludovici was that first-time guest. He travels to various softball tournaments around the country and baptizes people at the games in a baptismal he had built by a pool manufacturer.
“It’s this big monster truck for work, but his passion is to baptize people,” Myhre said. “He just happened to walk in. He said, ‘I can help you with that.’ We went from a garden hose and horse trough to this big rig. God stepped in, and we held on.”
With the baptismal secured, Reynolds needed to somehow get about 400 gallons of water to it. A firefighter at the first responders table suggested they partner with the Ocoee Fire Department and use its tanker truck, which carries about 1,600 gallons of water.
Ocoee agreed and created a training day for its firefighters.
“I wanted to involve someone from each table, from each group, to be involved in this so it wasn’t just Dale and Curt from the first responder table,” Reynolds said. “I went to this one table and got a pastor, Troy Schmidt. I asked Troy to open and talk about baptism. I went to a guy named Andy Jones who’s a chaplain … and asked if he would do the baptizing. … Tom Lopez wanted to sing so he went to David Hill and said, ‘Hey, can I do a song at the beginning and the end?
“We involved a lot of different people from a lot of different tables,” he said.
When the announcement was made for people to sign up for the event, seven people took advantage of the opportunity, including a husband and wife, a man and his son and two men who were baptized as infants but wanted to accept Christ as adults.
Hill said he was in favor of the baptism project because “Jesus gave us a mission and recorded in Matthew 28: 19-20: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
“We are spreading hopefully Christianity and God’s word and fellowship with God-minded Christian men,” Myhre said of the IronMen group. “There are guys in their early 20s coming, working and trying to find their path. And there are older guys who are retired who are coming.
I think there’s a real ripple effect of just these guys coming from all directions in life.”