I stumbled across this picture by happy accident today (as I write this), and it brought back a ton of memories about a pretty special incident some years ago. Memories worth writing about.
I was saved when I was 7 or 8 or 9, when I simply believed that you went to heaven, when you died, if you believed in Jesus. It was a remarkable moment which is etched in my memory as if it were yesterday.
It was years later that I got into trouble with my faith. See .. I ignored it, pretty much, afterwards. Sure, we went to church occasionally, not nearly every Easter and Christmas, and 5 or 6 years later, when we moved to Indianapolis, we never went at all.
After another 8 years, after we'd gotten married and had a couple kids, a neighbor invited us to Sunday School. We went, and we've been at it ever since.
After a few years at that church, we moved across town to a sister church, where I got involved in a Bible study. And that's the place God really got my attention ... led me to examine my own salvation and be sure of it ... put me in touch with some folks who turned into mentors for me ... and got me in touch with the fact that we're supposed to share our faith.
We started with the "4 Spiritual Laws", actually going into the community and passing some of the tracts out, to folks at the mall, etc. Something about it didn't set real well with me, I suppose because I wasn't comfortable with a "programmed religion". But I eventually got into a discipleship group called "Shamgar", trained by a gent named Doug Snider from Tyler, Texas.
Many of the leanings, in my own life, that I have today, date back to the days in 1969 and 1970 when we worked through many things at Shamgar. And we learned a "plan of salvation" that was a bit different from the 4 Spiritual Laws, and made a lot more sense to me. Incidentally, that "format" is what I use to this very day, with the same scriptures, that I learned in those meetings with the other guys in Shamgar.
Then, of course, we've used many different tracts in my years as a Baptist, albeit the times I've had the privilege of introducing folks to the Savior, I haven't used a tract at all.
All of which brings me to F.A.I.T.H., and the picture above. We'd gone on a FAITH visit to a home, ostensibly so we could present the "plan" to the wife of the guy we went to visit, for assurance of salvation. Or so we thought.
After someone had shared a "Sunday School Testimony", and someone else had offered a "Salvation Testimony", the leader of the group asked me to share the FAITH outline (which I never really thought was "natural"). As I started, I noticed Kori, the young lady in the picture, was crying softly across the room. So I asked if I might speak to her, if she'd like to hear the tale I was about to tell, and she said yes. So, she moved to the couch alongside me and I began the outline.
Her baby was crying, so I asked our leader (a lady, by the way) if she could hold the baby; I then began talking to Kori. And after a few sentences of the outline, she was crying even harder.
I asked her what was wrong, and she said she wanted to be saved.
Well ... when she said that, out went the "canned" presentation. I simply asked her why she wanted to be saved, and she answered that she was a sinner, and she knew what that meant. I then asked her how she wanted to be saved, and she said she wanted Jesus to forgive her.
Next, I asked her why Jesus? She said she knew He was the only Savior. Then, I asked what was necessary for her to do, and she told me about repentance and forgiveness. I said that sounded pretty good to me, and, why didn't she just tell that to God?
I told her we'd pray and all I said was "God, Kori has something she want to tell you ..."; I elbowed her and said "Go ahead .. He's listening". And she poured out her heart to Him in one of the most beautiful and moving prayers I've ever heard.
By the time she was done, we were ALL boo-hooing! It was as moving an experience as I've ever witnessed.
When we'd regained some semblance of composure, I had her read some scripture out of my Bible, assuring her of her salvation.
I've seen her a few times since ... she moved away not too long after our encounter ... and what a fine, radiant young Christian lady she is.
Her smile, as genuine as they come, says it all. And, between the outpouring of her heart, and the outpouring of the Spirit, I learned a lot that evening.
A whole lot.
Thanks, God. And thanks, Kori.