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ONe to one: the greeting card

by Keith Burden, executive secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists. Email Keith at

IT IS A MIRACLE THAT EITHER ONE OF US SURVIVED! The church was small and struggling. Ordained only a year, I was a senior ministerial student in college.

The congregation was largely comprised of senior adults. They were a very supportive, understanding group with the patience of Job. I was a young, visionary pastor, brimming with confidence and driven to succeed.

The first six months were relatively uneventful. Settling into a pastoral routine and getting to know my parishioners dominated my time and attention. I was fortunate to serve in a peaceful first pastorate, and I knew it.

Early on, we identified two areas of need and set goals accordingly. First, the church had fallen behind in giving to outside causes. As a result of declining income, support for missions had been placed on “hold.”

The church accepted the challenge to correct the problem, and through the sacrificial giving of its members, the deficit was quickly erased. I discovered early in my ministry that God blesses churches that make supporting denominational ministries a priority.

A second deficiency was the missing emphasis on evangelism. We were locked into a “maintenance mentality.” I faithfully preached the Word. Revivals and VBS were conducted annually. But, there was no organized outreach.

Rather than manipulating the congregation by shaming them into action, I decided to lead by example. Week after week, I visited prospects and shared the gospel…alone. It was six months before I witnessed any visible results. Leroy and Betty were among the first converts. They prayed the sinner’s prayer in their living room. That was a turning point in my ministry and in the life of the church.

As the couple grew in their faith, Leroy became my partner in evangelism. Eventually, others joined a weekly visitation program. God blessed the efforts, and during that year more than two-dozen people came to faith in Christ.

This past December I received a greeting card in the mail. The following is an excerpt from the hand-written note inside:

We will always remember that Monday morning on September 20, 1976 when you came by our home and led us to the Lord. Because of that you will always have a special place in our heart. Our church is doing great.

The card was signed,Your Brother in Christ, Leroy.”

      Imagine that! Almost 30 years have passed, and he is still serving and supporting the church. It proves that nothing pays greater dividends than investing in the lives of people.

It doesn’t take sensational achievements or exceptional ability to impact others. God delights in using ordinary people willing to share their faith and finances to extend His Kingdom. You can do it. Who knows? You might just find a special place in someone’s heart and get a greeting card to boot!




©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists