Inspired by How Others Came to Christ
One of my favorite things to do is listen to how people came to know God. Call it what you will–testimonies, witness–they each tell the most important story of their entire lives. The story of how they came to know the Almighty.
And listening is so inspiring–especially to the stories of people who didn’t grow up as Christians. I love those stories of God working wondrous things. There are breathless moments, dramatic pauses, and a feeling of exhilaration.
However, my own story of conversion is not “exciting” in a dramatic sense. It is more like the journey of a steady rain–not overwhelming, not loud–just a slow seeping of God’s love and the knowledge of him into my life.
I grew up as a preacher’s kid. My parents are from Africa, which always makes for an exciting dinner table introduction and a great opening to talk about their work–and really, every Christian’s work. The work of sharing the gospel.
Influenced by Godly Parents
I spent time in California, Texas, and Tennessee. And I grew up watching my daddy do the most important work on earth: helping people understand that they need a Savior and then helping them to obey Him. I watched him work long hours, odd hours, and all hours.
While I was growing up, I watched my mom in a different way. She stayed at home and spent time with me. While she was not always the “typical” preacher’s wife (is there really such a thing?), I saw her use her talents: opening up our home to people, feeding people, entertaining them. And she taught me, especially, the skill of loving older people. Visiting shut-ins and watching “The Price is Right” with them. Bringing fresh bread or a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Telling them about what we did that day–even the silly, mundane details because it meant that we were showing them love and filling that ache of loneliness that so often grows.
As I grew older, I started to question and to wonder. My dad brought home books for me to read and we would talk at the dinner table, the setting sun making the room glow in oranges and reds. We would pore over Bible passages and I would write out my notes. Because I wanted to read it for myself.
The Flame of Faith Begins to Grow
I’m a slow thinker. I have to ruminate over things. I don’t think fast in arguments. And so, I would write out my questions each new time and Dad’s responses. I don’t know if he ever felt apprehension or doubts. What I do remember is his never-ending patience and his calmness about it all.
But the day I became a Christian was a Sunday evening. I listened to my dad preach up there, and I suddenly stopped taking notes. It was a slow-spreading emptiness inside me as I realized that his words applied to me. That what he was saying was not just theoretical, but real.
And that if I died right that minute, I wouldn’t be with God. I would be lost eternally, in a place of unimaginable torture and terror. And so, I found my daddy’s elbow after church and told him that I wanted to change my life forever.
I remember him crying a little, as he and the rest of the Sunday night crowd listened as I confessed Jesus as God’s son, as I repented of my sins, and as he plunged me into those chilly waters to baptize me.
As I remember that night, I can still feel the almost tangible fervor in my heart. The urgency I felt to talk about God. I was wiped clean. I was new. I felt like the Psalmist does–that my cup overflowed with what the Lord had given to me.
Certainly, it’s good to recall. To listen and to tell of our stories of conversion. Not just to help us remember what God has done for us, but also to rekindle that flame of desire for the Lord and for sharing that joy with others. May we all rekindle that fire!