Five-year-old Callie Mae Davis, her parents, DJ and Brianna, their Hawhammock family, and God shared in an intimate ceremony two weeks ago. On October 24, Callie Mae was baptized by her “Uncle Matthew” McNeely in front of her family and fellow believers.
The Davises, originally from Clermont, Florida, moved to Swainsboro in January 2016. They started going to church at Hawhammock Baptist that spring and joined not long after that. Additionally, they enrolled their children at David Emanuel Academy. Bri says both of those decisions have changed their lives for the better, as her daughter’s decision to get baptized symbolized in a visual way.
Callie Mae’s journey to become salvation, her mother continued, has been a work in progress for a while now. Her parents credit their “village” for leading their now-kindergartener to becoming saved and ultimately baptized.
“We’ve been so blessed by our church family! I’d be here for days if I named them all individually because it truly takes a village. There are so, so many who stand out. Matthew and Joni McNeely, Mitchell and Karen Hudson, Lilly Hudson, Becca McNeely, Sherrie Johnson, Stephanie Waters, Brooke Lewis, Mariam Hardy, Theresa Pressey, Carol Thompson, Tammy Hendley, and Erin Way have all been her Sunday school and Awana teachers. They’ve made a huge difference in how our little girl views her relationship with the Lord and the goodness in her heart,” Bri explained. “There are so many more. We have a very active Wednesday night Awana at Hawhammock. DJ has taught the Cubbies class at Awana on Wednesday night for the last several years, and this was vital for Callie Mae’s growth in becoming the young lady she is. He used the weekly Cubbies verses to walk her through her weeks at school and at home. It was a huge blessing to us.”
If you ask Callie Mae herself about those helping in her walk with Jesus, specifically those at DEA, she’ll mention by name her K4 teachers, Amy Walden and Malie Ely, as well as the school’s headmaster, Haylee Free, her current teacher, Lindsey Howell, and others like Agatha and Emily McRae, Mandy Moore, Courtney Rowland, and Kristi Hood. Callie Mae will also credit her grandparents and her long-time dance teacher, Brooke Johnson.
“We talk a lot about the love Jesus has for all people, and Callie Mae constantly says she feels like the people in her life love her the way Jesus does,” Bri said.
Most influential to Callie Mae and her salvation, however, is her father.
“DJ is the glue that holds our family together spiritually for sure,” Bri added about her husband. “Our children, including Callie Mae, have no idea the amount of time their father has spent on his knees praying for each of them individually and how much effort he has put into developing their hearts to be on fire for Christ. Callie would probably say he is her No. 1 influence in her walk.”
As for how Callie Mae came to be saved to start with, Bri says all of these people’s influence came together in a single moment as the family returned home from church for lunch one Sunday. Callie Mae asked her parents to “help her put Jesus into her heart.” At that time, the Davises prayed together and formally asked Christ into Callie Mae’s spirit.
“We were so, so proud of her! I was driving her to school a few days later, and she asked me if she could get baptized. I asked her a lot of questions because I wanted to be sure she knew what that meant, we prayed about it, and felt that she was ready. We scheduled it with our church, and she was baptized on Sunday, October 24, during our morning service at Hawhammock Baptist Church.”
Matthew McNeely did the baptism and went the extra mile. The baptismal was having trouble, so he stayed late the night before to make sure the water was warm enough not to scare off Callie Mae in such a pivotal moment in her life. (Still, if you ask Callie Mae to recall the event, she’ll giggle and tell you it was “cold,” but she’ll also tell you it was worth it because she felt like “a new woman” afterward.)
“As her momma, my heart was overjoyed. I cry over everything, and this was no different. So many tears and so much pride,” Bri continued. “My husband felt so proud. That day was definitely a parents dream... To us, nothing is as important as making sure our children get to Heaven.”
What’s more, Bri can recall a special moment that happened after the baptism was complete. DJ’s grandfather, affectionately called “Pop,” passed several years before Callie Mae was born, yet the family talks about him often. The parents call him “the most Christian man” they’ve ever known. When Callie changed into her dry clothes, she looked at her parents and asked if they thought Pop was smiling down on her. That, of course, made both of the Davises teary-eyed and became Bri’s personal second favorite moment of the day.
“I had a mentor in college tell me the most important work I would ever do would be within the walls of my own home. Specifically, in this scenario, this rings true. As stay-at-home moms, our daily tasks and efforts can sometimes feel so mundane and feel as though they’ve gone unnoticed. I have read Callie Mae the Bible, shared with her in lessons of life how we can show that we have Jesus in our hearts, even in a world so full of sin, and she picked up so much than I ever thought,” Bri said in closing. “DJ has prayed over Callie Mae since I was pregnant with her years ago, he isn’t afraid to pray for anyone he meets, and he has made it his life’s mission to make sure our children know they’re children of God. If your children see you praying during turmoil, they will do the same. If your children see you open your Bible, they will do the same. Your work at home as parents is so important to their relationship with Christ from the time they’re tiny to the time they’re leaving your home. A church home is vital, too… We would love for you to join us at Hawhammock Baptist!”
As for the road ahead for Callie, she says she will “keep learning about Jesus, be kind to her friends, and show kindness to people.”
When asked what her message would be to people who read this story, she kept it simple: “Love Jesus! Love people. Be a nice friend, and a really patient big sister.” (The Davises just learned they’re expecting what they believe to be the family’s third boy, and Callie Mae was hoping for a sister instead.)
Her favorite Bible verse is John 3:16.