“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19)
The first thing the next morning, I couldn’t wait to tell my wife Glenda what had happened to me.
“Guess what, Honey”, I told my wife, “Last night I got saved.”
I told her about the dream and what had happened. She was thrilled for me, but I think also a little skeptical.
I had gone through so many phases in our marriage and tried so many different things, only to give them up after a short time. Nothing ever really seemed to satisfy me, so who could blame her.
After all, this wasn’t your “run of the mill”, walk down the aisle, and shake the Preacher’s hand type of salvation story.
But this time, that emptiness I always felt was completely gone, and over the next few weeks, she began to realize that something genuine had happened to me.
I looked up Calvin as soon as I got to work. “Hey, Calvin. Last night I got saved.”
He was excited for me as I told him my story. “The only thing is”, I said, “I don’t know what to do next.”
He suggested that I get a Bible and start reading it, and “Oh yeah” he said, “You might start listening to this Christian radio station that I’ve started listening to. It’s really helped me.”
I turned the dial on my radio when I got back into the truck, and I bought a paperback Bible on the way home.
I started reading the Bible instead of watching television.
Calvin had suggested that I start in the Gospel of John. It was amazing.
I had tried to read my wife’s big coffee table Bible in the past, when I would go through one of my “turning over a new leaf” phases, but I would lose all interest when I would get to the “begets” in Genesis and that would be the end of that.
But this time it was different. I couldn’t seem to put it down. It was as if I was living it instead of reading it.
It seemed as if I could hear the people when they talked, as if I was walking on those dusty roads with Jesus, watching Him perform the miracles, listening to His teaching.
I would stay up most of the night reading before I had to go to work, and then while working I would listen to the Christian radio station as I distributed my newspapers.
One day, as I was servicing my newspaper vending machines, I stopped at a pay phone to call my wife. “What’s that loud noise in the background?” she asked.
“That’s this preacher on the radio.” I replied. “When I first heard him, I thought ‘You don’t have to shout like that when you preach’, and it really annoyed me, but I just can’t seem to turn him off.”
Little did I know that it was the anointing of God that was drawing me to hear this preacher full of the Holy Ghost.
He preached about a Jesus that “…was the same: yesterday, today, and forever.”
A Jesus that still does the same miracles today that you read of in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.
A Jesus that still heals the sick, raises the dead, causes blind eyes to see, and fills people with the Holy Ghost.
His motto was, “You don’t have any trouble. All you need is faith in God.”
I knew that Jesus could change a person’s heart, could make him brand new from the inside out, but I was beginning to believe in a Jesus that could do much more.
Another preacher on the radio did a week long teaching series on “How to receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost”. He said that Monday through Thursday he was going to be sharing the Scriptural basis for this experience, and then on Friday, how to receive it.
If it was Scriptural and came from Jesus, I wanted it.
That Friday, he shared the Scripture from the Book of Acts 2:39-”For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
I knew that God had called me, so that meant this promise was for me also, and then he said how to receive it.
I turned the radio up louder and leaned close to listen as he said, “Just ask and believe.” Luke 11:13- “…how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
You mean it was that simple? Just ask?
I believed that the words of Jesus were true, so I asked in prayer for Him to baptize me with the Holy Ghost.
After I had prayed, I didn’t feel any different and nothing unusual happened, but God’s Word said that if I believed, then I would receive: Acts 1:8- “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
It was not long after this that I came upon the woman in the fire, felt the power of God, and experienced my first miracle.
After my encounter with the miraculous power of God at the motel fire, it was as if everyone that I cared for had cancer, and I had discovered the cure.
I couldn’t wait to tell friends, relatives, acquaintances and anyone I knew that might listen to me about how Jesus Christ would save, set free, and deliver them from sin.
I couldn’t wait to tell them that we didn’t have to be lost or sinners anymore! I couldn’t understand why they weren’t as excited as I was to find this out.
I had yet to understand about the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit and that He would lead me to the ones whose hearts He had already prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ, even as He had to prepare my heart before I could receive.
The night DJ at the Christian radio station had announced that if anyone wanted some Gospel tracts to distribute, they should contact him and he would be glad to provide them.
I thought that I could insert these Gospel tracts into the newspapers that I sold and this would be a great way to spread the Gospel. His name was Bro. Tony, so I called and he remembered me from the conversation we had the night of the fire.
He said that I could come by the next day and pick up the tracts from a Christian Outreach Center that he operated in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas Texas.
I went the next day to pick up the tracts, and was surprised to find out that the Outreach Center was a humble house in a modest neighborhood, not some big church-type edifice as I had expected.
They didn’t even have a sign on the building. I was to find out, that from this simple frame house a great ministry was going out into the Dallas area.
They had a 24 hour prayer telephone line, held gospel singings every Friday night, and showed Gospel movies every Saturday afternoon.
They printed their own Gospel tracts and gave them out to all, went out witnessing on the streets of downtown Dallas, and even went yearly to the State Fair of Texas giving out Bibles.
They shared the saving message of Jesus Christ to all with no charge to anyone.
They truly believed the Scripture, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” He gave me all the tracts that I asked for, and was thrilled that I was going to put them in the newspapers.
He wouldn’t even take an offering for the tracts, but I left knowing that I had to do something for this mild mannered servant of God. Little did I know how entwined our lives would become.
I began to insert the Gospel tracts in the newspapers, and whenever I needed more Bro. Tony would provide them for me.
They were a simple tract with no man’s opinion or theology, just simply “Do you know Jesus loves you?” written on the front.
They had short Scriptures on the inside about the need for being saved and “born again” along with a simple prayer for salvation on the back, the address for the Center, and the number of the 24 hour prayer line.
I felt like I had begun to do something to spread the Gospel, but I still wanted to do more. I envisioned a sign for the Outreach Center.
Made from 4×4 wooden posts, it would be in the shape of the Cross, six feet tall, with a metal sign hanging down from one side of the cross saying “Christian Outreach Center”, where additional signs could be added to describe that night’s activity.
My wife helped me to construct it, I had the signs printed, and I carried it over to the Center and installed it in the front yard by the street.
I began to attend the Gospel singings and Christian movies, and then one evening Bro. Tony announced that if anyone wanted to go with him and his wife to hand out tracts downtown, they should meet at the Outreach Center on Monday before noon.
I knew that I had to go.
We met at the Outreach Center and rode together in Bro. Tony’s van, parked on a side street near downtown, and began walking to the corner of Akard St. and Elm St. in the middle of downtown Dallas.
It was at this intersection in Dallas that thousands of people from the office buildings crossed each day at lunchtime.
As we were walking, Bro. Tony and his wife began handing out tracts to people we passed, asking if they knew that Jesus loved them.
I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to someone I didn’t know, and soon I drew Bro. Tony aside and said, “Brother, you’re going to have to pray for me that God will give me boldness!”
He said that he would, and soon I felt emboldened to start handing out tracks and saying, “Jesus loves you!” to perfect strangers.
By the time we reached Akard and Elm, I was so energized and on fire, that I told Bro. Tony “I’m so excited, that I believe I could preach!”
He pointed to a marble planter about two feet higher than the sidewalk and said, “There’s your pulpit so preach.”
With a lump in my throat that seemed the size of Texas, I opened my Bible that I had brought, turned to the Gospel of John where Jesus told Nicodemus “…Ye must be born again”, stood upon the planter, and began to read out loud.
It wasn’t long before a crowd started to gather around and listen, when all of a sudden, we could hear a brass band coming down Elm St. and drawing nearer.
The people turned to see what was happening as the band and a group of men shaking hands approached the intersection. As I continued to read, I heard someone in the crowd ask another, “What’s going on?”
He answered, “The Governor of Texas is in town campaigning, and that’s him with a brass band.”
As they crossed the intersection to where we were standing, Bro. Tony said something to the leader of the band and they broke out into a loud rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.
Everyone started clapping and singing, and the next thing I knew, Bro. Tony was standing in front of the Governor of Texas, handing him a Gospel tract, and asking him “Governor, do you know Jesus loves you? Have you been born again?”
He seemed flustered and didn’t know what to say, so he turned away and began talking to other people, as his aides surrounded Bro. Tony.
They started explaining what charities the Governor supported, what Denomination he belonged to, and all that he had done to help those in need.
Then the reporters covering the event chimed in, asking Bro. Tony “What did you ask the Governor that seemed to upset him.”
Tony answered, “I just asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him, and had he been born again. How about you boys, have any of you been born again? Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
At that remark, the reporters seemed to scatter and head up the road where the Governor and his entourage were going.
Then as quickly as it had begun, the Governor was gone, the band was gone, the crowd was gone, and we decided to call it a day.
As we were walking back to the van, I thanked Bro. Tony for praying for me that God would give me boldness.
He said, “I didn’t ask God to give you boldness. The Bible says, ‘The righteous are bold as a lion.’ I just asked God to help you to have faith to believe it.”
The Lord had arranged for me to go from being afraid to talk to a stranger about Jesus one moment, to preaching in front of the Governor of Texas the next.
Bro. Tony believed that these events transpired that day for the Governor to take a public stand for Jesus. The Bible says in Psalms “…he putteth down one and setteth up another.”
The next day in the Dallas newspaper, there was an article entitled “Governor breaks up downtown revival meeting”.
By the way, the Governor lost his re-election bid that year.
(TO BE CONTINUED)