All of us are inadequate, but sometimes we are more aware of our inadequacies than others, aren't we? That seems to be when God works most powerfully — as you will see in this testimony from Susan Trawick of Southside Baptist Church in Southside, Alabama, where Scott Harris is the pastor.
My husband and I accompanied our church's youth group on its annual mission trip. Both of our daughters were in the group, so we were looking forward to spending some meaningful time together. The destination? Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Yep, that's right — the home of none other than Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who predicts the arrival of spring with his shadow. Funny, the only thing our groundhogs in Alabama do is mess up the yard. Anyway, our church had just finished the FAITH Evangelistic Training for the first time, and my husband and I were among the first "graduates" of the program. I was still pretty green and still a little nervous about presenting the Gospel, and when I get nervous, I forget what I'm supposed to say. So, I'm in the habit of carrying the pocket version of the FAITH outline with me. I call it my "cheat sheet."
Our youth minister wanted adults who could share the Gospel on the trip so he could make up witnessing teams that consisted of two young people and one trained adult. Our group would be affiliating with a relatively new church in Punxsutawney. The mission was to get the word out to people about this church, do some backyard Bible clubs, and evangelize the neighborhoods. Or so we thought! Little did we know that a newspaper article about us had preceded our arrival.
We were so eager to evangelize the masses, but they were ready for us. They had already read about the red-necked, Alabama Bible-thumpers coming to their town; and I think they must have spent the two previous days getting their door slamming muscles in shape. You think I'm kidding? One woman even ran from her yard, screaming. I really would have loved to have seen the expression on my husband's face when he and his team walked into her yard. She was working in her flower bed when they came up the walk. One look and she dropped her trowel and ran to her backyard screaming, "Go away! I'm Catholic!"
There were a number of similar stories from other teams, but what happened to my team later that afternoon took my breath away. But let me back up a little and tell you about my team. I had imagined that I would get teamed with one of my daughters and one of her friends. I was wrong — I got boys. Not one, but two boys. I don't know anything about boys. I have girls. On top of that, they were the two shyest boys in the youth group. God really does have a sense of humor, doesn't He? I had to pull every word from them the first half hour. But me, I can talk to a fence post. So they had no choice but to talk back after a while.
We followed our street assignments, knocking on one door after another. At one house, a young woman answered the door. I realized after talking to her for a few minutes that she had a slight mental disability. But she was enjoying our visit so much I decided to ask her the key question: "In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?" Then I shared the Gospel with her. She may have been disabled, but not so much that she couldn't understand that God loved her so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for her. She got saved that day, with the faith of a little child.
At another house, an older woman answered the door. She indicated that she had indeed placed her faith in Christ, and we rejoiced together. We stood on her porch and prayed, and she asked God to be with us as we witnessed. Our hearts were soaring as we left her house! We were on cloud nine. The boys were so excited, they talked non-stop. We continued on our street assignments, knowing we only had about half an hour left. We were so busy talking that as we turned the next corner and looked at the street sign, it wasn't the same as anyone on our card. We backtracked and still didn't see a familiar street. Great! We were hopelessly lost in some neighborhood in Pennsylvania. To the casual observer, we must have looked like Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man trying to find Oz. And we were being observed. From the house on the corner, we heard a voice say, "Do you guys need some help?" Indeed, we did. We thought that we were lost. But it was really a divine appointment from God. And we were right on time!
We walked toward the house, and as we got closer, I could see a man and woman sitting on the screened-in front porch. The couple appeared to be in their late fifties or early sixties. They gave us the directions we needed and asked what we were doing. Both of them seemed genuinely interested in us. They must have been the only two people in town who had not read that newspaper article. Anyway, God had just dropped a big, ol' present wrapped up with a big, ol' bow right in our laps. I asked them the key question and got a works answer. You know the kind I'm talking about. "Well, you gotta be good, and believe in God, and go to church sometimes." When I said, "I'd like to tell you how the Bible answers that question, if it's alright." They said okay. Gulp! I'm up to bat and the bases are loaded! And here come the nerves. Having forgotten everything I've ever learned, including my name, it was time for the cheat sheet! I went through the FAITH outline with them — or rather, I stumbled through it. I just knew I had botched it. Now the time had come to ask them if they would like to receive the forgiveness and eternal life that the Bible talks about. They did! We bowed our heads, and I led them in the sinner's prayer. They repeated it after me.
When the prayer was over, they raised their heads. I could see tears streaming down the woman's face. She looked at the man and said, "We have some serious decisions to make." Then turning to me, she said, "You see, we've lived together for years, but we're not married." God had changed another heart! What an honor it was to be there!
What we witnessed was nothing short of a miracle. Those two people were transformed in an instant when they found Jesus. God's words had spoken to their hearts and drawn them to Him. It certainly wasn't my silver-tongued delivery! Despite the bumbling efforts, God used it for His Glory. What a day! We were lost, and they got found … by Jesus.
I don't remember much more about that trip, except this. My team — my two sweet boys who started out so shy — couldn't wait to get back out the next day! We all learned something from this experience. We learned that God blesses obedience, even when we are weak and scared. This in turn builds our trust in Him and gives us confidence to go out in His name. If we are obedient to go, He will give us the words to say. I truly believe this is where training comes in.
I thank God for that day. I was so blessed to be a part of it, and so humbled by the power of His Word. I know that I will always remember the day of lost and found.
I love that testimony! It relates to nerves in witnessing, doing what is right, kids on mission, chaperoning … what a delight! Can't you see yourself in that situation? I give Susan a whole lot of credit — now it's your turn. August is upon us, and that's the time to sign up for FAITH Evangelism again or whatever program your church uses. The main thing is to reach people and to know how to do it effectively. So send me your testimony, and I'll be praying!