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LOOKING BACK

i love to tell this story: 

The year was 1975. The leadership at the Central Church of Christ took seriously Jesus’ command to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). We decided to begin obeying the Lord in our city of 110,000 residents, knocking on over 10,000 doors with the help of college campaign workers and other friends. A tent meeting concluded the campaign – I met Gary for the first time one night underneath this tent.

At the conclusion of one of our nightly services, one of the campaign workers, Cory and I were gathering up song books and sermon visuals when I noticed a guy still seated in the tent after everyone else had gone. I walked over to him, and after introductions he asked, “Did I understand from your sermon that a person is to be baptized after he believes?” I assumed he was referring to Mark 16:16, in which Jesus said: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

I assured him that he was exactly right, to which he responded, “Then that’s what I want to do!” Cory, Gary and I drove immediately to the Central Church building and Gary was immersed.

Coming up out of the baptistery, our new brother commented, “Now I have a problem!”

 “How can you have a problem?” I asked, puzzled. “You’ve just been united with Christ, your sins are forgiven, you’re on your way to heaven – and you have a problem?” 

He explained, “Yes. You see, my wife has this thing about religion. This might just wreck our marriage!”

Cory and I suggested at the same time, “Let’s pray.” We joined hands, praying fervently for God to protect Gary’s marriage, and open Zoe’s heart.

The following night Gary was back, this time with his wife, Zoe, and their dear friends, Larry and Deidra. Imagine my surprise when Zoe came forward at the invitation, requesting to also be baptized! Gary later enlightened us about the events of the prior evening.

Arriving home, he had opened their door to find his wife sitting on the couch, tearfully waiting up for him. They looked directly at one another. The first words that tumbled from her mouth were, “Gary, why don’t you talk to me about the Bible anymore?” Recovering his composure, he excitedly shared with her his surrender to Jesus Christ.

Eventually Gary and Zoe relocated to Searcy, Arkansas; Gary earned a degree in Bible, after which they began full time ministry. After working for many years in the Midwest with several different churches, they moved to Tampa, Florida, where they’ve served the Bay Area Church of Christ for over 15 years. Many, many people are heaven-bound as a result of Gary and Zoe’s zeal for the Lord. Three grown children – Jami, Josh and Zach, and their spouses (all of whom are Christians) complete their family.

 

CHRISTIANS ARE TO SOW THE SEED, GOD WILL GIVE THE INCREASE

Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

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