I’m at the beach doing some repairs after the summer season, and as I was walking the beach, sometimes you see groups that are pretty obviously youth groups there on missions or getting baptized, things like that. I’ve always wondered what kind of mission you could really do at the beach – I mean, people are on vacation, they don’t want bothered, right? I’ve also had this weird prejudice against baptisms that aren’t in a river. I got baptized in the river in December and it was snowing, so it was a very memorable thing. My children got baptized in a baptistry, and to me, it just seemed kind of “less” than the river. I’ve seen people get baptized in a pool, and once again, it seemed like a less traditional baptism. People are so weird about river water anymore (and not sure I blame them), that getting baptized in the river probably seems like an environmental hazard risk that God would have to protect them from. It’s amazing these prejudices that we have just based on “This is how I did it and this is how I think it should be done.” God help us to shed these ridiculous ways of thinking that divide and diminish, and get to the work of telling people about the love of Christ.
Speaking of that exact topic, I heard a preacher recently at a youth conference from Louisiana (Dino Rizzo), and he was a phenomenal speaker – great for youth because he was funny and engaging and just real, very real. He gave his testimony and said that he was working in Myrtle Beach and a kid on a mission came into this tattoo parlor where he was working and told him about Jesus, told him that Jesus loved him and wanted a relationship with him. He brushed the kid off, making it obvious he wasn’t interested, but later, those words wouldn’t leave him. He did not grow up in a Christian home, really had no religious background at all. But those words began to haunt him, began to call him, and he eventually prayed this random prayer to this Jesus he did not know, and his life was forever changed.
He made the point that you never know who you are talking to, you never know the power of your words landing in their heart, and the power of the Holy Spirit to make those words come alive and open up that place in their heart that is longing to be filled. This Dino Rizzo, of course, is now an incredibly successful pastor with a large church and thousands of people have been influenced by his preaching – NONE OF WHICH would have happened had a random teenager on a random missions trip not had the courage to speak to him about the condition of his life. It was exceptionally convicting to me, as I wonder how many people I come in contact with who aren’t saved, don’t know the peace Christ can give you, the power He can bring into your life, and it might just be that short conversation you have with someone while waiting in line at a store, or a restaurant, or at work that might turn their life around.
One of my favorite examples of this is Mike Elder, a pastor who used to be at Ripley Tabernacle Church, now a pastor in Wood County, who would often tell the story of how he was a “bus kid.” Someone picked him up and brought him to church, starting when he was a very young child. His family didn’t take him, did not even go to church with him, but there was a church who had a church bus that came and got him every Sunday, and those people invested in him, and he became a preacher and has dedicated his entire life to telling people about Jesus. Think of that! You do a simple thing like drive a bus, encourage a child, invest in someone who is broken and the Holy Spirit can take that simple act and turn it into something with divine intervention. It’s like being in the stock market with a stock that just takes off and multiplies and multiplies and multiplies. Pretty soon your small investment has tripled or quadrupled, and your part in it was very small. The Kingdom of Heaven is like that…..you give a little out of the abundance God has given you, and watch it take off!
I’d encourage you: Step out, speak up, let’s get busy sharing the gospel – time is getting short….
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.