It was the early 1970’s when my “thought-I-was-a-Christian” churched boyfriend became a Christian. The morning after his conversion I could actually see the difference on his face.
A thug on probation had just become a Jesus freak!
During that time the “Jesus Movement” — a revival among young people that started in California and literally moved across the country — hit Northern Virginia. Before long the camping trips on which our high school choir teacher took us included “church” on Sunday mornings. Benny and I went from tent to tent waking everyone up to hear Benny share the gospel. The Spirit of God was busy and we saw numerous friends experience saving faith.
Weeknight meetings that met next door to the police station where Benny had spent some time prior grew almost weekly. Benny and others taught and barefoot guys played guitars while we sat cross-legged on the floor singing songs that sounded nothing like the hymns we grew up with. One amazing day the school vice-principle asked our group to lead a 7th period assembly for the entire school! He had seen the change in so many “bad kids” and was inviting the revival to spread. Numerous students responded to an altar call that day to commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
Then we got married and Benny became a youth pastor. What fun we had caring for “kids” who were nearly our own age. Again, God moved and the Baptist church Bible study grew. Benny participated in starting Bible studies in local high schools and kids were finding irresistible grace to be amazing. To this day we have sweet relationships with then high schoolers who are now pillars in churches throughout the country.
But something happened. In short, we became so focused on ministering in the church that evangelism waned. I had six kids in eleven years, was homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry. Evangelism slowly and subtly shifted to inviting a neighbor to an Easter outreach or telling a grocery store checker I would pray for her following her mom’s death.
For the first time in years I had lunch yesterday with someone who isn’t involved in a church and who may not be a believer. And it was her idea! We met at a business appointment I attended with my oldest son (I work part time from home for him). At the end of our meeting she asked if we might have lunch. I was thrilled! Yesterday after lunch with this delightful woman and devoted mother she asked if we could do this again.
Why has it been so long?
This formerly zealous evangelist became so church oriented that I forgot the mission to which the church is called: to incarnate Jesus Christ to a lost and hopeless world in need of a Savior. Extending a church invitation or praying for a grieving store clerk is nice…but it’s not sharing the gospel.
Yesterday I watched the Lord steer our lunch conversation to me briefly sharing about the difference God is making in my life. In fact, I was able to empathize with some things my new friend is going through with her adult children — and then surprise her when this pastor’s wife of nearly 4 decades followed up her lack of enthusiasm for church involvement by admitting the times when I went on Sunday mornings only because…well…my husband is a pastor!
I came home yesterday hopeful. Who would have thought this homeschooling mom of seven and grandmother of eleven would be “out there” selling IT and having lunches with business savvy women who may walk away scratching their heads at how I’ve spent the last 35 years?
I just want them to walk away savoring the aroma of Christ.
God is stirring my heart to love the lost again. To admire women who have spent years building a career but who love their children just as much as I do. To not be ashamed of the gospel that has changed me and can change them. To resist the embarrassment or fear of man that tempts me to keep God out of the conversation. To look for ways to learn from some amazing women I’m meeting — many of whom share my values about marriage and motherhood far more closely than I thought when “us” and “them” attitudes tempted me to feeling superior because I was the stay-at-home mom.
I’m smiling. “Retro” stuff is back in. Our sons have repeatedly lamented that Dad didn’t save our Chevelle convertible for them and our daughters have chastised me for throwing away “cool” clothes and jewelry.
Maybe God is bringing me back. Back to days when reaching out to the lost and praying for opportunities to share the love of Christ was a lifestyle.