Who led you to Jesus?
Recently I began re-reading the book ‘Just As I Am’, the autobiography of Dr. Billy Graham. Of particular interest to me were the chapters sharing the accounts of his calling into the family of God and his calling into the ministry.
As a hard-working 16 year-old working his family’s dairy farm in North Carolina, Billy had many things on his mind besides religion. He grew up fundamentally a good kid in a good church-going family. His primary passions were like most boys his age, playing sports and dating the prettiest girls that would say ‘yes’.
In November 1934, a Baptist evangelist named Mordecai Ham held a well-publicized revival near the family farm in Charlotte. Billy was immediately wary, and wanted nothing to do with anyone called ‘an evangelist’. In an attempt to pacify his family members who urged him to attend, he reluctantly agreed to one service. After one visit he was hooked! He found himself thinking about the Lord constantly and began attending the services nightly. Billy said that it seemed like the evangelist was “always pointing his bony finger at me.” To avoid the uncomfortable conviction Billy was experiencing, he enrolled in the large choir – sitting behind the fiery preacher to avoid direct eye contact! Then one night during the Invitation, Ham “gave us a gentle reminder: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, KJV). His song leader, Mr. Ramsay, led us all in “Just As I Am’ – four verses. Then we started another song: “Almost Persuaded, Now to Believe.” On the last verse of that second song, I responded.”
Just as Mordecai Ham was one of the human vessels God used to lead ‘America’s Pastor’ to Himself, I can rewind my life to personalities who made invaluable investments in my connection with Christ. I have two loving parents (Klaus Kiefer & Sandra Stambaugh) who prayed for me and made church attendance a high priority for us children. I had maternal grandparents (Albert & Mattie Lou Watson) who modeled sweet dedication to God and who prayed for their grandchildren daily. I had Sunday School teachers who probably never were thanked adequately, yet never gave up on us rowdy rambunctious bunch. And there were the preachers, like John Franklin, Ray Beeson, and Gerald McAllister - men who inspired me, challenged me, taught me, bored me, loved me. Later in life, the Father would kindly use Michelle Hartman (soon to be Michelle Kiefer), her parents (Johnny & Jill Hartman), Tom Stambaugh (my stepfather), Paul Neal (my father in the faith), Steve Trinkle and a few others.
Who led you to Jesus?
Have you stopped and thanked the good Lord for them lately?
Have you stopped and asked the good Lord to be one of them lately?