A teacher said to a filled classroom, “If you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior come forward right now.” Not a soul moved. She requested again and the room was silent. All the students looked around to see if someone would move. Finally, someone stood up, walked forward and decided to follow Jesus. Immediately, three other children followed, were whisked into another room, bowed their heads, followed the teacher’s lead and repented of sin, confessing Christ as Lord and Savior.
In that classroom 31 years ago, I was the first young man to step out to receive Christ. I was 7 years old attending a Vacation Bible School in Brandywine, Md. I can recall it as if it were yesterday. I can even remember that the small chair I was sitting in had a triangle shaped hole in it. I was convicted of my sin by the Holy Spirit and after hearing what Jesus did for mankind; I knew that I couldn’t sit life out. I thought the same things you may have as a child, “If I follow Jesus, I will be perceived as odd. What if I am the only one or worse — made fun of?” But I knew in my pre-seminary, elementary school mind, that if Jesus died for me then He was worth living for.
Three decades later, by God’s grace, I’m still following Jesus. It was grace then and grace today. It has been said “Grace = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” That sums it up. We get to Heaven by faith in Jesus, accepting His sacrifice for our sins, we enter Heaven because of His mercy not our merits. Apart from Christ, we are nothing and can do nothing to ensure our salvation.
We are lost without the Lord. A country song “I was Country when Country wasn’t Cool” by Barbara Mandrell and George Jones dominated the early 80’s, hitting number one on the charts. For some strange reason, I omitted “country” and submitted “Christian.” Without question, I knew the day I gave my life to Jesus; it would be an up-hill climb. For starters, most children (if not all) want acceptance. No one wants to be picked last on a team at recess. No one wants to sit alone at lunch, or be the punch line of a joke.
My mission was to love Jesus and love others. My prayer was never to be “holier than thou” and certainly not religious. To this day, both disgust me and have harmed many over the years. My prayer was to walk the hallways as Jesus, having a real life relationship with the Redeemer. I didn’t want to think that I am “good”, much less God, but I wanted others to know where I stood and that I was unashamedly linked with God and His property. Yes, at times, I felt lonely, left out and laughed at, but it was worth it. I learned early on that it is better to be a minority with the Lord than majority with the world.
God showed me that persecution will come, but I have also witnessed that when we promote the Lord that He has a way of promoting us, if not on Earth, then most certainly in heaven. God has clearly been present in each season of my life.
In elementary school, I never asked to speak at my own graduation to over 500 peers, parents and faculty, but God opened that door. Speaking to a crowd as a kid can be overwhelming. In junior high, I never asked to become president of the student government, nor asked to speak at my eighth grade graduation to over 1,200 family and friends. I didn’t ask for a standing ovation at my high school graduation to nearly 1,750 people or to be crowned “Prom King” in 1990. Friends, this isn’t “prosperity,” but reality. I didn’t name it or claim it, but I was willing to lose if it meant gaining Christ. God makes much of those who make much of Him.
My goal in life is that His message would be heard. As an evangelist, I have prayed, fasted and daydreamed for revival for over a quarter of a century. I long for revival to break out and if not in my lifetime perhaps at my funeral.
If I have any success in life, it is by God’s grace. I never dreamt I would still be alive at age 38. Since childhood, I thought I would either live a short life or the Lord would come back. However, I haven’t wasted much of time I have had here on earth. Just the past three years, I have been blessed to preach over 600 times in 20 states living “by faith.” Some may see what God continues to do now but they forget the price it took long ago.
I am not talking about my commitment to Christ, but His commitment to me. Folks see me board a plane, but forget the pain. They see the stage, but not the scars or the folks I have been blessed to “roll” with, but don’t recall the ridicule. It’s not so much me sticking up for God but Christ being rejected that I could be accepted. His grief became my grace. Man isolated him so I could be included with God. Jesus was faithful when I was faithless. He is the hero and deserves all credit. In these last days, it is only going to get worse before the Lord comes back and takes those who trusted in Him to Heaven. God died for mankind and I want to spend the rest of my days living for Him. I have read the back of the Bible and we not only win, but also become “winners” the moment we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Without Jesus, I knew that I would be empty, void and done (damned) without Christ. In school, politics and ministry, I never got in it for the prestige, perks or power, but rather because He is the reason for my existence, He is the answer to life’s questions. I was janitor at First Baptist Church of Waldorf, Md. before any other ministerial position. Titles are important to man but my testimony is important to God. The lower I get in private, the higher God has taken me publicly. Looking back, all ministry is big when we walk with the Lord.
In 1979, a Vacation Bible School teacher shared God’s Word, radiated His love and asked a classroom of students do you want to follow Christ? By God’s grace, I said “yes” and today, doing my best to follow Him more than ever. The goal was never to be famous, but found faithful. The biggest city of all is not Columbus, Calgary or Cairo but that Celestial City when I reach Heaven. The jackpot is Jesus and the Lord is worth laboring, loving and living for!
Today, I want to love God and love on others. Like that country song, I don’t know if I will die “cool,” but praise God I am with Christ in this life and the one to come. I am Heaven bound; I am a kid of the King and a loser lost in the love of my Lord. I don’t believe in reincarnation but the Bible boasts about resurrection! 31 years ago this week, I stepped out for God (because He first reached out to me) and I prayerfully ask you to join the family of God as well. Tomorrow is not certain. Those that wait until the 11th hour to make things right with God usually die at 10:45 p.m. If you have trusted Christ, I would love to hear your testimony and profession of faith. If you haven’t and you’re not dead, then God is not done with you!
Jesus loves you and so do I. Together, by God’s grace may we all go with Him.