one to one: Lessons about life, ministry, and grandkids
by Keith Burden, Executive Secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists
You Just Never Know
We got acquainted through a mutual friend. She did not have a Christian background, but she did have a lot of questions about the Bible and Christianity. Her husband was a great guy, but neither of them was living for the Lord at the time. Gradually, in a variety of different settings, we had the opportunity to get to know one another.
As they attended services at our church, they had opportunity to see biblical faith lived out in the lives of our congregation. One couple in particular invested heavily in them. Apparently that whetted their appetite for spiritual things, and I had the chance to answer their questions and share the gospel with them.
The day finally came when I decided it was time to “draw the net.” It was apparent to me that the Lord was knocking at their heart’s door. I encouraged them to respond. She prayed and accepted Christ as her Savior. He rededicated his life. Shortly thereafter, they made public profession of their faith and joined the church. She was also baptized.
The very next year I had the honor of serving as the officiant when the couple dedicated their infant son to the Lord. Shortly thereafter, I accepted the pastorate of another church. Although we did not stay in close contact I was aware that they remained faithful to the Lord and were growing in their faith. They obviously had a big impact on their son. He accepted Christ as Savior at a very early age.
Fast-forward 17 years. Last night my wife and I attended the closing ceremony at Welch College and celebrated the safe and successful return of the 2016 E-TEAMs. My heart was filled with joy and my eyes moistened with tears as I watched that young man walk on stage as a member of Team Brazil. Incredible!
Not every story has such a happy ending. Unfortunately, some who begin the journey with Christ do not see it through to completion. For various reasons they abandon their faith and, in the words of Scripture, “fall by the wayside.” Thankfully, this story had a different outcome.
I have great confidence in Christ’s power to transform lives and enable people to reach their spiritual potential. But the truth is, you just never know. You never know the far-reaching impact your words or deeds will have on the lives of others. Seventeen years earlier, I was simply trying to be faithful to my calling. Seventeen years later I marvel at how God uses our feeble efforts to produce such amazing results.
That young man has already visited the countries of Cuba and Brazil. Each trip had a profound impact on his life. He indicated he plans to apply for E-TEAM again next year. Will he be accepted? If so, which country will he visit? Where will these experiences lead him in the future? You just never know.
About the Column
One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and the joys of grandchildren.