(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
In my first church, many years ago, I was the newly installed pastor. A few weeks in we had our first deacons’ meeting. Seven of the men of the church, comprising the deacon board, sat with me at a church basement table. I chose one of them, and asked, “Bob, will you open the meeting with prayer?” I considered that a reasonable request for a long-standing deacon. Bob was silent for a moment or two, then he looked at me and said, “Couldn’t say a word.” I was taken aback! I certainly didn’t expect that answer! But not to belabor what I considered an embarrassing moment, I then asked another deacon, and he opened the meeting with prayer.
Bob was a man in his 70’s. He had been a deacon in that church for fifty years! And he “Couldn’t say a word…” of prayer to open a deacons’ meeting? I kept an eye on Bob, and after interacting with him over the next months, I discovered a shy but faithful churchman who had been a member of the church since he was baptized at around twelve years old. After that first deacons’ meeting, I didn’t ask him to pray again……….until………
About three years into my pastorate, I contacted a husband and wife evangelistic team to come to our church for revival services each night for a week. Bob and Peggy Boyd, whom I knew from a few years before, agreed to come. Weeks before we planned for a successful seven days of services and, for a small church of about 60 active members, the meetings were well attended.
Some background: We had a vibrant Bible study group of young adults each week at the parsonage. I had been invited to a Bible study at the Catholic church in town led by a young Deacon who was soon to be ordained as a priest. I became friends with this young man, about my age, and I was pleased to attend his ordination. But he was to be assigned to another parish, so he asked the other priests and Deacons in the large parish to take over his Bible study, but no one wanted the added responsibility! So he asked me! The next week about six young adult Catholics met at the Baptist parsonage! The Bible study grew over the next three years to over 20 young adults and teens, most of them Catholic!
Highlights of the revival week of meetings:
- Bob Boyd, the evangelist, preached powerful sermons! At the close of the service every night he gave an invitation. Anyone so moved was to come forward…
✞ ...anyone who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior! And Bob (or I) would further explore their decision and pray with them. ✞ ...anyone who had drifted away from the Lord, and desired to re-commit their life to Him! We would question those who responded and pray with them. ✞ ...anyone with other burdens with which they needed help! We would counsel with them and pray.
- The second night, when the invitation was given…
✞ ...Cathy came forward in tears, needing for- giveness and restoration into her faith. ✞ ...Linda, from our Bible study, came down the side isle all smiles, wanting to publicly de- clare her decision to trust Christ as her Savior and Lord!
- The people who attended each night seemed to enjoy the services. But not much else was happening as we neared the final day of meeting! I was concerned because I felt my congregants and guests needed to be renewed in their Christian faith to a more dynamic level. So I fasted and prayed Friday night and through Saturday, asking God to pour powerful blessings on that last service!
- That last night, as Bob Boyd gave the invitation, I asked to speak. With tears I told the congregation of my concerns that after the revival meetings, the spiritual life of the church would continue pretty much as it was before……rather dead!
- The invitation continued. I looked up and saw Bob, the deacon, coming forward! I asked him, “Bob, why are you coming?” He told me, “I want to accept Jesus as my Savior!” I about fell over! But I quickly recovered and led him in prayer as he asked the Lord to come into his heart and life – this man who was a deacon in the church for fifty years……without being connected to God through Jesus Christ!
Bob’s life changed! I could see Christ being formed in him day by day! And thereafter, he had no problem with vocal prayer! What happened? It is the fulfillment of II Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
By the way, his son, Bob, was an early member of the Bible study, and is a dedicated Christian man to this day.