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Alive because someone listened

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–If Brad Webb decided not to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to him, George would be dead.

This story begins with another Hurricane Katrina evacuation victim — a very common story told in Louisiana. George lived in the Gentilly community, close to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and a friend evacuated at the last minute with George’s dog, Smokey, to central Louisiana. They expected to go home in a few days.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into more than two years. He moved from a Red Cross shelter to a FEMA trailer, and ultimately to a larger trailer in Alexandria, La.

His home was a total loss. He was estranged from his family and was quickly losing hope.

Central Louisiana is very different from the culture of New Orleans, and George didn’t feel welcome and he wasn’t fitting in. He was at the end of his rope and couldn’t take anymore.

George took Smokey outside and tied her to the porch. He couldn’t let his last friend see what he was about to do. Surely, someone would find the dog and care for her.

The loaded gun waited inside for a finger to twitch one last time.

That same day, Brad Webb was doing what any Southern Baptist church planter does — looking for prospects. And on that Tuesday in May, he had several teams out witnessing with him from Family of Grace Church.

One team led by Don Arbuckle, the associate pastor and worship leader, was to go around the outer circle of the trailer park. Brad was to lead his wife and children around the inner circle of trailers. That’s when Brad saw George sitting on his stoop tying up Smokey.

God impressed upon Brad to go over to George and strike up a conversation, even though the other team was to go to George’s trailer. It wasn’t hard to get George to talk. He wanted someone to listen.

“Normally, I wouldn’t talk to someone going around talking about religion,” George says now. “These people treated me like a real person. They really talked to me. They were interested in me.”

Eventually Brad invited George to come to Family of Grace. He asked George to try it once and if it wasn’t a place for him, he didn’t have to come again. Brad found out George didn’t have the money to pay the landlord to cut the grass. Two days later, Brad and others were cutting George’s grass.

George visited the Saturday night worship service as he promised, and after the service, asked Brad for prayer. He wanted Jesus in his life. He wanted the life he heard Brad mention in his message.

George got saved.

It was only later that George told Brad the whole story of what happened that Tuesday. If Brad had not stopped at George’s trailer, the other team may have found George dead.

With tears in his eyes, George said, “These people saved me. I was tying my dog up, then [I was going to] go in my house, and shoot myself in the head. These people saved me. Them and then my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team. The Family of Grace Church is a new church plant made possible by Cooperative Program giving of local Southern Baptist churches.

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  • Keith Manuel