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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Part of the joy of serving in the evangelism group at the North American Mission Board is working with the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (C.O.S.B.E.). Bobby Britt is one of those vocational evangelists who happened to be a member of the church I pastored in Alabama. In 2001 I asked Bobby to preach for me, and he readily agreed. He also was dying after being diagnosed with a rare kidney illness called Wegener’s Disease. Without a kidney transplant he would soon die.

He was so ill on the day he was to preach he asked if it would be alright for him to preach sitting on a stool. (Bobby has always been way ahead of his time!). I told him he could even preach lying down if that is what he had to do — I simply wanted our people to hear him share God’s Word.

After the message that day, a group of our single adults were having their weekly prayer session. In that prayer meeting was a young lady named Ashley Fisher who believed God was speaking to her about donating one of her kidneys to Brother Bobby. Though they had never met, Ashley never had a doubt that this prompting was of the Lord. Several weeks later she told Bobby and his wife, Caroline, what she believed God was calling her to do. Bobby politely refused her offer, but was overwhelmed by her gracious offer. Ashley told him this was not about him or her, but about HIM and her willingness to be obedient. She would not take no for an answer.

Within a few weeks she had undergone the necessary tests, and sure enough, she was a perfect match. In June 2001 the surgery was scheduled, but at the last moment, it was postponed due to some medical complications which had arisen in Bobby. Ashley recalls having numerous people try and talk her out of making the donation. They told her it was like Abraham and Isaac. They told her God was sparing her from the actual donation and that all He wanted was her willingness and she had passed the test. Ashley disagreed.

In January 2002, two successful surgeries took place, and Bobby got his new kidney. After a lengthy recovery for both patients, Ashley returned to her work as a high school athletic trainer and Bobby returned to the pulpit. He recently held a revival in Arizona and continues to preach a full schedule of evangelistic meetings. He does suffer from fatigue and neuropathy due to his years of being on dialysis, but is he willing to go wherever God opens the door for him to preach the Gospel.

And now for the best part. On Oct. 21, Brother Bobby Britt and I presided over Ashley’s wedding to Air Force veteran David Alford. What a celebration! David and Ashley insisted that we both share the Gospel at the wedding since each of them had family and friends they believed may not be saved. Of course we obliged and we are all praying God will use their witness to bring many to Christ.

The story of Bobby Britt and Ashley Fisher Alford is a fresh reminder that Romans 8:28 is true indeed. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” It is also a reminder that God expects precise obedience, even when it may defy human logic. Let this Good News article serve as your reminder to pray for and utilize our God-called vocational evangelists!
Gary Hollingsworth is senior director of the cultural evangelism team at the North American Mission Board. Evangelist Bobby Britt can be reached at [email protected]

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  • Gary Hollingsworth