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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Are you ready for some good news today? I mean really great news? Well, read this incredible story sent to me by Jean White, one of our team members at the North American Mission Board. This is what is happening through Southern Baptist missionaries and leaders. This is what Southern Baptists are really about when we follow Jesus. Let’s join Ron in getting passionate about the right thing –- the main thing -– making evangelism good news again.

Ron Climer is the director of ministries for the Mid Valley Baptist Association in Fresno, Calif. More than 30 years ago, no one would ever have thought he would be in that position. Ron was a biker and looked the part with long hair, tattoos and an unkempt appearance. When he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he wanted his appearance to reflect that something had changed inside, so he got his hair cut and changed the clothes he wore.

That same day, one of his friends, Doyle, was hospitalized after a motorcycle accident. Ron told his wife, Carol, that God was telling him to go to the hospital and share Christ with his friend. With Carol downstairs in the hospital praying for the encounter, Ron went to Doyle’s room and found it full of bikers. Immediately the guys said, “Hey man! What happened to you?” There was such an obvious change in him that his friends could see it. So Ron got to tell the whole room about how he recently had become a Christian. Then he turned to his friend in the bed and asked if he would like to pray and ask Jesus to save him as well. But Doyle said Ron had only been a Christian for a few days so he wasn’t sure it was going to work. He said, “Come back later and we’ll talk again.” So Ron said he would come back in a week. Doyle’s reply was, “A week! I was thinking more like 30 years from now!”

So for 30 years Ron had been praying that God would keep Doyle alive and that the Holy Spirit would be working in his life so he would be receptive to the Gospel. More than a year ago, Ron knocked on his door and his friend answered. He was wearing an oxygen supply and had multiple health issues. Ron asked, “Do you remember what happened 30 years ago?” His friend said, “Yes. I was in a bike accident and you came to my room and asked me if I wanted to become a Christian.” Ron reminded him that he promised to come back in 30 years and let him know if being a Christian was still working for him. Then Ron said, “It’s been 30 years and it’s still working. Would you like to make Jesus Lord and Savior in your life now?” Doyle said that he would and prayed to receive Jesus.

Last December, Ron was able to baptize Doyle after 30 years of prayer. Ron’s advice is, “Never give up. God doesn’t.”
John Avant is vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

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  • John Avant