by Jefferson David Tant
When I first saw her, she was standing with her sister and brother-in-law, bidding farewell after a visit. After they left, we discovered the bus would be delayed perhaps two hours in the small town of Anniston, AL. I was traveling by bus from Birmingham to Atlanta.
Her dress was hippie style, and she had an openness on her face that invited conversation. We talked about our trips. Then I came directly to the point: “Are you a Christian?” She looked sad and replied, “No.” “Why not?” I asked. She talked freely to me, telling me of her Holiness background, and that she had been caught up in the popular movement of the day—drugs and immoral living. She had been living with her boyfriend for some months. She was only eighteen.
She was going beyond Atlanta to Columbia, S.C. I told her that I was to be in that area preaching in a meeting in a few months, and would welcome the opportunity to talk further with her, as she had expressed an interest in changing her life someday and becoming a Christian. She said she would talk with me further, and that she would come to hear me preach. As we parted at the Atlanta bus station, she gave me her address and phone number.
Nearly four months later, I went to the meeting in Camden, S.C. As I went through Columbia, I tried in vain to reach her. Trying her mother’s phone, I learned Denise was working, but that I should be able to reach her later. After repeated calls, we talked on the phone. She agreed that she and the boy, Danny, would come to church services on Sunday morning and then have dinner with us.
Sunday morning came, and with it came a heavy fog that nearly obscured the road. Thinking of their 40-mile journey, I had some doubts about their coming, for the fog showed no intention of lifting. But at the 11 o’clock hour, Danny and Denise walked through the door. My topic that morning was “The Joy of Being a Christian.” I sought to portray the happiness Christians have that escapes the world.
Thanks to the hospitality of Owen and Glenodine Thomas (the local preacher and his wife—my hosts), Danny and Denise were invited to dinner. After dinner, we opened the Bible and had a study for some two hours about God’s plan and the errors of denominationalism. Danny had asked why there were so many different churches. After they saw the simplicity of the truth, they were impressed with it. Then I sought to overcome their hesitation with assurances that God would help them to overcome temptation, as he has promised to strengthen us and provide the way of escape from any temptation. They knew the way was not going to be easy, so they gave careful thought to the changes that would be required of them.
Danny was the first to express his desire to become a Christian. Then as we went to the building for the baptism, Denise made her decision. It was a most joyful occasion, and the gospel of Jesus Christ had exercised its tremendous power once again. We gave them the names of Christians in Columbia who would help and encourage them, and they departed. When I saw Denise the next day on my way home, she was planning to take Danny on his lunch break so they could get a marriage license.
Why did I write this true story? Not to boast of my own ability, but to encourage you, dear reader. The power is in the gospel! It still works! You never know who will be receptive. It might be someone standing next to you at the bus station. You’ll never know until you open your mouth and begin, will you?