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changing the face of the county fair

by Tim Lewis

A lady passing by said, “You know, your flowers really need watering.”

Each year our church sponsors a booth at our local county fair. We pass out small prizes, paint the faces of children, and give away copies of the Gospel of John along with information about our church to adults. The fair involves days of hot, sweaty work, but it has been a good way for our church to reach our community and for our people to be involved in outreach. One particular day had been exceptionally long. It was about 9:00 p.m., and I had been in the hot sun since 10:00 that morning. The fair closes at 10:00 p.m., and I had reached the point that I was counting the minutes until I could pack up and go home.

“Excuse me?” I replied.

“I walk past your church on my way to work every day, and I’ve noticed that somebody needs to be taking better care of your flowers,” She said.

“Great,” I thought. There’s nothing quite like starting a conversation with criticism.

“Yes, ma’am. We probably do need to do a better job. May I give you some information about our ministry?” To make a long story short, I spent the next hour talking with Cheryl and her husband, Dennis. They had come to the fair because Dennis was an announcer for the Rollover Derby, where cars are intentionally flipped to see which driver can “roll” his vehicle the most times.

Neither Dennis nor Cheryl had been active in church for many years. I invited them to attend our services. As they walked away that night they told me they would come and check out our church the following Sunday. “We’ll see,” I thought to myself. If everybody who promised to come actually showed up for a service, we would have a church of thousands!

However, Dennis and Cheryl did attend our services on Sunday morning, sitting on the second row, left hand side. Three weeks later, still sitting in those same seats, they gave their hearts to Jesus. 

Dennis and Cheryl both grew in the faith and became more active in the ministries of our church. Dennis became our official church greeter, and Cheryl teaches the preschool Sunday School class.

Three weeks ago Dennis suffered massive heart failure. He underwent more than 24 hours of open-heart surgery as the doctors fought desperately to save his life. It wasn’t meant to be. Our Lord was ready to take him home, and yesterday evening Dennis slipped into the arms of his waiting Savior.

We will miss Dennis in our church. However, I have absolutely no doubt about his eternal destiny. I personally watched God perform a miracle in his life. Dennis was a changed man. He experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.  

Sometimes we work in fields where the harvest is abundant. Other times the soil is hard, rocky, full of thorns and must be cultivated before harvest comes. Thankfully, it is always God who gives the increase, and He’s still in the business of changing lives.

By the way, did I mention that Cheryl now makes sure our flowers are always well watered and cared for?

Tim Lewis is a Home Missionary at Summit Free Will Baptist Church in Ogden, Utah.


©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists