FENTON, MI – “A time to tell” is this year’s theme for our state convention. We want to remind ourselves that every moment of every day is an opportunity for redemption. That reminder is worth more when it leads to action. What part can you play in someone’s salvation by making sure they hear the Gospel?
Looking back on my pathway to following Christ, I remember people who played a role in my salvation during the mid-70s. I remember important moments. You can see my laundry list below. You probably have a list of people and moments that marked your pathway to Christ, too.
Mom - During the late-60s, our family moved from Flint to Swartz Creek. Like other men, my dad worked a lot of overtime at General Motors. We dropped out of a church in Flint during the move. As I entered Swartz Creek High School during the mid-70s, my mom renewed her efforts to get the family back in church. To no avail, Mom begged me to attend church with my sisters and her.
Classmate – After my mom and sisters visited the First Baptist Church of Swartz Creek near the high school on Sunday, a classmate named Mark spoke to me during gym class. His invitation to church was straight forward. Mark said, “Your mom and sisters visited our church this past Sunday, why don’t you come with them?” My reply was short, “Sundays are the one day I spend with my dad. We watch TV then work on the yard or house.” Mark persuaded me with, “I have three sisters near your age. Come to church and you can date any one of them.” I made instant plans to attend church.
Men – During the early days of church while trying to win over one of Mark’s sisters, the men in the church won me over. The church’s average attendance was 40 people. My dad remained at home while the rest of the family went to church. I learned to address the men as Brother Young or Brother Horner. I learned the men formed a sort of fraternity who loved the Lord. One preached. One led music. One served as a deacon. One taught Bible study. Each man did something for God. However, all of the men made me feel welcome and valuable. They greeted me. They shook my hand. They called me by name. They asked about my team’s performance. Each time I exited the church they said, “Tony, I look forward to seeing you again.”
Youth group – Initially, the children of three families formed the youth group. The youth group leader led us in simple Bible studies. Activities were carefree and cheap. Parties were held at homes. Teenage crushes came and went; but the huge constant for me was the sense of belonging and acceptance I felt in the youth group and a beginning of a hunger for the Word of God. Somehow I discovered more about myself in a youth group of 20 then I did in a high school with 2,000 students.
Brother Young – The pastor of the small church of 40 people was bi-vocational, widowed, and retiring when I started attending. I hid away quietly in the dining room, one day when Brother Young stopped by to invite my dad to attend church with the family. The two of them were sitting in the living room. I still remember how I froze and didn’t breathe when I heard Brother Young explain salvation to my dad. Brother Young didn’t know it, but he shared his faith with two men that day, my father and me.
Gift Bible – During the early days of church, I received a black cover, gift Bible from my parents in the King James Version. It had a zipper that closed and opened easily on three sides of the Bible. A cross hung from the zipper serving as the pull. The Bible was central to everything at church. We read the Bible during class, youth group, and worship. We read Scripture from the back of the hymnals taking turns in what was called responsive readings. My hunger grew for Scripture. When I read the Bible I sensed God was speaking to me in a personal conversation. I loved it! One Sunday night just before bedtime, after a great day at the small church, I zipped my Bible closed and slipped to the side of my bed and whispered this prayer to God:
“God, I don’t understand everything about you; but, I believe Christ is your Son and that He died on a cross for me. Forgive me for all that I’ve done against you. Come into my life and lead me in all that I do. In Jesus name, Amen.”
During the mid-70s, people in my life told me about Christ. Did you see the progress? What was formerly of no concern became important to me. What became important, became my quest. What became my quest, became my purpose in life. All because others knew it was a time to tell Tony that God loved him.
This year as with all years, let’s remember “It’s a Time to Tell.” Would you, please, find a way to tell others that Christ loves them? Would you play a role in someone’s life like those whom God used in my past? And, if you would, please, let me know how God uses you to transform someone’s life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.