Learning the Ropes
Stories of Discipleship
I am encouraged by these stories and others like them. It is wonderful that good things are happening in home mission churches. God is still working, and He is still working where you live. I’m sure you can find a Tim or a Steve in your town. Enjoy their stories...
The first time I met Tim was when he and his girlfriend attended the annual Valentine’s Day Banquet. I remember the same thing everyone else remembers about his first visit to our church. “Look at all that hair!” A professional Elvis impersonator, he had retired a few years earlier from performing…but not from the hair.
Tim grew up in a Roman Catholic home, but many people knew he was angry with God and wanted nothing to do with church. Years earlier, Tim’s dad barely survived a surgery that went bad. The emotional rollercoaster the family experienced that day was more than most of them, including Tim, could handle. The final straw came an hour later while his dad was in recovery. Something went wrong again, and Tim’s dad died. Soon after, Tim found his way to the hospital chapel where he told God he was done with Him, that he hated Him. It was a miracle he even came to church this particular Sunday. But even more miraculous, he came back. We watched God deal with Tim’s heart each week as he returned again and again, under the guise that he was there because his girlfriend Marina needed to be back in church. One night, Tim was sitting on his couch thinking about the Sunday morning sermon and suddenly decided he wanted to learn more. He drove to the church and attended his first ever mid-week Bible study.
Tim began to feel more and more conviction regarding his spiritual condition. He remembered walking into that hospital chapel years earlier and telling God he hated Him. After a Sunday sermon, Tim said, “My hands began to sweat, and I felt more conviction than I had ever felt before. I wanted to go tell God I was sorry for that day in the chapel.”
Tim came forward and asked Jesus to forgive him. He made Him his Lord and Savior. Tim admits, “It felt like the heaviest weight had been lifted from my shoulders.” Tim asked if he could host a “Salvation Celebration.” Tim invited all his friends and family members to the church, promising to feed them and then have a gospel concert. We did not expect too much out of it, but did not want to squelch his excitement, so we just let him go.
To our shock, 67 of Tim’s friends and family members came to hear his testimony at the Saturday evening celebration. It was the largest service our church had enjoyed to that point. Bob, an atheist of 62 years, attended that night. After 62 years of not believing, and then losing his wife, Bob witnessed Tim’s new faith and began to wonder if something was missing. Three months later, he also gave his heart to the Lord.
That was a year ago. Tim just celebrated with a second Salvation Celebration a few weeks ago. Every week, in our services, we find people Tim has invited to church. They have their own questions, and they have come for answers.
When you meet Tim today, you immediately know there is something different about him. Before, it was because of his Elvis hair, and he was always putting on a show. Now, he is different because he wants to share the wonderful story of the day God forgave him for his sins, and Jesus became his Savior.
About the Writer: Nate Altom is planting Keystone FWB Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
I met Steve about five years ago when we first investigated the prospects of building a new church auditorium. As a Home Missions church, we knew we had to build as economically as possible. We began to pray for the Lord’s wisdom and direction. Through much searching, we found a structural engineer who donated his labor. He then introduced me to a draftsman who would be reasonable in cost. That draftsman was Steve.
Steve caught my attention when he walked in with a long braided ponytail that cleared his beltline in the back. I have worked with many people in the construction business that had foul mouths, but Steve was polite and kind. He seemed to want to help us and not take advantage. Although he was not a Christian, he seemed respectful of the church and God.
We hired Steve as draftsman. A friendship developed as we battled four long years to obtain a building permit. Steve was willing to talk about God and listened carefully as I witnessed to him. I didn’t go straight to the Romans Road with Steve. I had to take time to teach him basic truths and lay the proper foundation. We continued to pray for him.
One afternoon, Steve called and asked if I was in my office. I could tell by his tone of voice that something was bothering him. We met, and I finally had the opportunity to lead him to Christ. At his request, Steve was the first person to be baptized in our new church auditorium. A year later, he got his ponytail cut off. It had been 17 years since he’d had a haircut, but he said he didn’t want anything to hinder his testimony for Christ.
The Lord continues to work in Steve’s life. Since his conversion, his wife and an adult son have also been saved. He is an usher, fills in to teach and preach when needed, and witnesses to others. Steve is a faithful servant in the church.
About the Writer: Dexter Guin is planting Woodmen Road FWB Church in Colorado Springs, CO.