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Agnostic accepts pastor’s challenge, finds heart softened, life changed

HOUSTON, Mo. (BP)–“I wish I would have known the Lord 40 years ago,” confesses Bill Gray. “It would have made my life a whole lot easier.”
Gray, 44, holds a degree in veterinary medicine and, until a year ago, was a self-described agnostic.
While growing up in Davenport, Iowa, Gray occasionally attended church services with his parents. However, when he went away to Colorado State University, “I went as far away from the church as I could go.” In fact, while Gray was in college, he not only strongly believed in the theory of evolution, he also actively pursued the concept that human life was transplanted to earth by space aliens.
When Gray set up his veterinary surgical practice in Las Vegas following his college graduation, he began a self-serving lifestyle that lasted for 15 years. “It was egocentric,” he says, describing how he lived. “There was no room for God. It was my way or no way at all.”
Gray was extremely successful with his practice, later moving to Phoenix, Ariz., where he opened up five veterinary hospitals. While he had made a success of his life financially, he readily admits, “I didn’t think I needed God, and I didn’t see any validity in him. I just believed there had to be a physical explanation for everything.”
After several years in Phoenix, the demands of his practice increased to such a degree that Gray decided to take early retirement, and he and his wife, Charlotte, moved to Houston, Mo., a small community 50 miles south of Rolla, where Gray helped his wife’s parents operate the Golden Hills Trail Ride Resort.
“Life wasn’t very satisfying,” Gray admits. “I didn’t feel very productive.” Eventually, he was hired as the community’s parks and recreation director, while his wife initiated a technical training school for the area’s untrained workers, receiving permission from First Baptist Church to use its educational building during the week for the technical institute classes.
Being a professed agnostic, Gray was uncomfortable even entering the church building to visit his wife or to pick up his son from their day-care program. However, after Charlotte began attending the church on a regular basis, the pastor, Benny Gard, invited Gray to his adult Sunday school class. At first, Gray was reluctant and didn’t accept the invitation. However, when he began noticing something different in the lives of the workers in the day-care center, he began to reconsider.
“I saw how wonderfully they were treating my son,” Gray says, “and my son was coming home and talking about Jesus. I realized maybe this was a good way of life. I wasn’t seeing it as a belief, just a way of life that was very good.”
As a courtesy to the pastor for allowing his wife to use the church’s facilities, Gray decided to visit the pastor’s Bible study class. He wasn’t looking for any answers or to get to know God. “I had no use for God,” Gray recounts. “I had no problems. Financially, our needs were more than taken care of, and my relationships were good. I wasn’t searching for God or calling out to him for help.”
Gard remembers several times when Gray visited the Bible study class. “He had lots of questions,” the pastor says, “and he talked a lot about his belief in evolution.” Finally, Gard challenged Gray to attend Sunday school and worship services every Sunday for six months and to view a series of videotapes titled, “Panorama of Creation” by Carl Baugh. At the end of this period, if Gray was not convinced in the truths about God found in the Bible, then Gard would not continue to urge him to accept Christ. Gray accepted the challenge.
While he gradually began to understand more about God through reading the Bible and listening to the pastor’s sermons, it was while viewing the creationist videotapes that Gray became convinced that God created all of life and his previous view of evolution was false.
“Genesis made perfect sense. In evolution you have to theorize and hypothesize to get the pieces together, but in Genesis it’s all there.” Gray continues, “It hit me in the way I needed to be hit — in a very scientific and physically oriented manner.”
Four months after Gard issued his challenge, as Gray heard the pastor extend an invitation to accept Christ after a Sunday morning worship service, he found himself under conviction. “I started sobbing for no reason,” Gray recalls. “My heart just felt so soft.” He left his pew and prayed a prayer of confession and repentance with the pastor.
“The minute, even the second, I prayed,” Gray notes, “it was like someone had lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I just felt I could float; it felt so good.”
Following his conversion and baptism, Southwest Baptist University asked Gray to serve as an adjunct professor in two of their extension centers, teaching biology, human anatomy and physiology. As Gray talks to young people about his journey from being an agnostic and a believer in evolution to becoming a believer in God and in creationism, he hopes they will accept Christ earlier in life than he did.
“I’ve found that if you let Christ into your life,” Gray advises, “you need to let him run it. Now I just turn everything over to him, and instead of Bill Gray coming up with a solution, I let the Lord do it. …”I can look to him now. I can have faith in him.”

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  • Luana Ehrlich