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Couple touched by FAITH say others ‘need someone to come’

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–When Sonya Stearnes knocked on the door of Jim and Susie Napier’s house during a FAITH team visit, she expected an uneventful discussion.

Instead, the Napiers listened intently as Sonya led them through the FAITH outline. When she finished, Jim accepted Christ and Susie renewed her faith.

During the awareness luncheon for the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Stearnes and the Napiers, both of First Baptist Church, Temple Terrace, Fla., shared how FAITH changed their lives.

FAITH originated at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., where Bobby Welch is senior pastor. LifeWay Christian Resources then partnered with the church to introduce the concept nationwide, beginning in January 1998. FAITH is endorsed by the North American Mission Board.

FAITH team members agree to attend 16 training sessions and practice what they learn in home visits like the one Stearnes and her team made the night they met the Napiers.

Stearnes said she was tired and didn’t want to go to FAITH that night. But she knew God needed her to go and with a good attitude. When she made that visit, she said, “They sat and listened to me like I was president of the United States.”

What she didn’t know was that the Napiers were waiting for someone to come to them. They’d visited the church the Sunday before and decided maybe this was the place for them.

“I didn’t grow up in a Christian home,” Jim Napier said. “I didn’t think God cared much about me.”

Susie Napier, however, did grow up in a Christian home, was saved at the age of 13 but moved away from God as a teenager.

They were both divorced with two children when they met. They found the church one evening while they were walking in the neighborhood and decided to visit.

“It [FAITH] takes getting out of a comfort zone, out of the church,” Susie Napier said. “I am grateful for a pastor and associate pastor who are willing to get out of their comfort zone.”

The Tuesday following Stearnes’ visit, the pastor of the church went to visit Susie’s 15-year-old son who came to know Christ that night.

“There are so many of us out there who need someone to come. We are not asking you to die on the cross for us, but just to come,” she said. “If someone isn’t out there telling them, they’ll never know.”

Another luncheon speaker, Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., said FAITH groups at the church have seen 200 people saved on Tuesday evenings and more than 200 saved during weekday witnessing. The church now has 119 leaders enlisted for FAITH this fall. So far the church has had more than 500 baptisms this year and expects to have more than 700 baptisms by the end of the year.

“A lot of this is week-by-week stuff. That’s how you build a church,” Floyd said.

Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., said, “FAITH is a proven thing that happens and changes lives.”

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  • Hilary Palmer