Keep Asking That Question!
James received a phone call about three weeks ago and the voice on the other end of the line said, “This is a voice from your past.” But unlike some old classmates or relatives that might make a guessing game out of “who do you think this is?” this man quickly explained that he, Tom, and his wife, Debra, had lived down the street from us when we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But because they had moved to Colorado before we left Santa Fe and moved to Norman, it had been at least twenty years since we had last spoken to them. Tom had actually located us through the internet.
Tom was calling to make an unusual request of James, but before he did so, he explained the journey he had been on which had brought him to this phone call. When we moved to Santa Fe twenty-three years ago, Tom’s wife Debra was a member of First Baptist Church of Santa Fe, where James had just become the senior pastor. She had welcomed us to the neighborhood one day by bringing us some cookies, and not long after that initial encounter, James and I walked down to her house to meet her husband Tom and their two beautiful young daughters.
Tom was standing on the front porch, and we introduced ourselves. As I went on into the house, James remained outside to visit with Tom. Tom said, as he told the story to James over the phone, “You turned to me and asked me if I was a believer in Christ. I remember replying, ‘Of course I am.’”
While Tom was not a member of our church, he did attend the worship services with his family, and he explained how the nagging question, “Are you a believer in Christ?” along with being under the preaching of God’s Word every Sunday, caused him to “devour everything I could find on the Bible and its teachings.” After studying for several years, Tom confessed, “I realized that believing in Christ was not enough. I needed a personal relationship.”
Since Tom and his family moved from Santa Fe, we never knew of his conversion to Christ. He said he went on to become a member of a church and began to teach a Bible study class. He had such a heart for God’s Word that he eventually earned a Master of Arts in Religion and later one in Religious Education from Liberty University.
However, (and this is where he made his request of James) he had never been baptized in believer’s baptism. He was calling to ask if he and Debra came to Norman, would James be able to baptize him? He felt the question James asked him on his front porch that day was his first step on this long journey of faith, and this portion of the journey would be complete if James was the one who baptized him. Of course, James assured him he would be happy to make the arrangements, and we would look forward to renewing our acquaintance.
While so many lessons could be drawn from this encounter, I have felt a renewed burden to ask the question to friend and stranger alike, “Are you a believer in Christ?” Ask the question, the Lord will do the rest.