Note: This is the second in a series entitled “Culture of Evangelism.” Missed the first installment? Read it here.
“It can happen to anyone.”
Have you heard this expression before? You may have said it to someone or maybe, someone said it to you when you made an uncharacteristic mistake, misunderstood someone’s direction, or overlooked something that was literally right in front of you. No matter what, no matter where, no matter when, “it can happen to anyone.”
As we continue to focus on daily developing a culture of evangelism in Louisiana, allow me to share a personal story.
My grandfather became a Christian at the age of sixty-five. His lifestyle change after his conversion represents one of the most immediate transformations that I have ever seen. He quit smoking, drinking, and cursing on the day he got saved. That same day he started attending church every Sunday, reading the Bible every day, witnessing, and even tithing. As unusual as this is, that kind of transformation is exactly what the Scripture says ought to happen when a person is saved. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) God truly changed my grandfather’s life in this way.
As I think about his conversion, I stand in awe of our great God and the power of the Gospel to change lives. Though my grandfather never attended church prior to his conversion, he watched Jimmy Swaggart on television. Eventually he developed a friendship with a pastor near his home. That preacher died shortly after my grandfather’s conversion. In addition to those two influences, I had a childhood Sunday School teacher who awarded stickers for praying for someone who was not saved. I chose my grandfather. After I got too old for stickers, I kept praying because that had become my habit. One glorious Sunday, my grandmother called with the news that my grandfather had believed in Jesus for salvation!
It’s amazing how God works to bring someone to Himself—a preacher some would call fallen, a small-town preacher nearing retirement who refused to grow weary, and a preacher who was looking for stickers as a child.
As I continue to pray about Louisiana having a culture of evangelism, I think about people like my grandfather. Among the almost 4.6 million people living in Louisiana today, there are many people just like my Papaw.
Understand that in order to develop a culture of evangelism, we must have the core conviction that . . .
Anyone can be saved.
We meet Simon in Acts 8:9. He practiced sorcery and claimed to be someone great. The text seems to pick up on the improbability of his salvation from a human perspective, “Even Simon himself believed.” (Acts 8:13)
Actually, the greatest example of this truth that anyone can be saved is the Apostle Paul who we first meet in Acts 8:1 as being in agreement with putting Christians to death.
I love Louisiana! I was born in North Louisiana and grew up visiting relatives in Olla, Jonesboro, and Monroe. I was raised in South Louisiana. I went to Seminary in New Orleans. My first two pastorates were in Southeast Louisiana. My last two pastorates were in Acadiana. My Louisiana roots are deep, and my love is strong. I resonate with the Apostle Paul when writing to the Romans about his people, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation.” (Romans 10:1) Let’s build on the work already established and work tirelessly to call our state to call on the name of Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Salvation can happen to anyone! Do you believe that? Paul told the early believers in Rome, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13, Living)
So let’s be intentional, prayerful, relational, watchful, and hopeful, because we believe that Anyone Can Be Saved!