After Ted left, I settled back in to try to complete preparation for the service I’d be conducting soon. Before long, the telephone rang again.
A lady at the other end of the line was crying, trying to talk. Doing more crying than talking. Now, you should probably understand that I had (and still have) some friends who are “wild and crazy guys.” One,an entertainer, in particular, could never resist “pulling one over” on the “preacher.” I fell for his pranks more often than not. I always sort of had to be on my guard. In order to understand how vulnerable (not just gullible) I was, you’d have to know this: The guy was a fantastic onstage performer, but he could have also been a stand up comedian. He was (and is) a consummately skilled practical joker. He had so many authentic voices and caught me off guard so many times that I always had to wonder. Plus, anyone who’s ever served as pastor of any church of any size knows that every church has at least one member who isn’t “laced together too tightly.” I never knew when my friend might be “setting me up,” so I had to take ever call seriously. . . while being also aware he’d like nothing better than explosive laughter on both ends of the line.
Pretty soon I realized this was not my friend. Instead, it was a lady from another town. After she told me her name, I wondered: “Whom do I know who lives in that town who’s so upset with me she’d call? Crying.”
She was, she told me, a long time friend of a new acquaintance of mine: Ted Weeks. She went on to say she’d been praying for him for years, loved him like a son, and he’d just called her a few minutes ago to tell her: “I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.”
She said she just wanted to call and thank me.
Thank me?! Thank ME? Did she have any idea I was the one who should be offering thanks. Wow! That was the kind of fuel my engine ran on. That was a main reason I’d said “Yessir! When I felt called to be a minister. She wanted to thank me for doing what I was called to do? What ministers are supposed to do?! We’d both had a privilege of participating in something God Himself was apparently doing! That (her call and Ted’s) had made my day! Maybe my entire week!
I was wanting to THANK HER. And Ted. And God. And anyone else who’d listen to me express my own joy. It sort of reminded me of the scene I saw on television the year the North Carolina State basketball team won the NCAA title. It was so beautiful. Jimmy Valvano (one of my all time favorite people) was so deliriously exited that he was running around all over the court, just looking for someone to hug, or thank, or thank and hug!
My heart was light when I went skipping home to grab a bite to eat before the prayer meeting. I got back and was standing out in front of the Church just aa few minutes before the service was to begin.
While standing there, talking with some of our members as “Prayer meetin'” was about to start, a couple with a young son came walking over from the parking lot. They were obviously visitors. I almost didn’t recognize him. Ted Weeks! The guy who’d come out to see me earlier that same day. I almost didn’t recognize him. He was clean-shaven. Dressed up. Smiling broadly. I would almost say he was “glowing,” but that could have been razor burn from shaving a ragged three days growth with a dull razor. And, if he were trying to do that while looking through bloodshot eyes, he may have “nicked ” himself a few times. He introduced me to his wife, Pat, who had a smile a mile wide! And little Timmie. Ted had taken my suggestion, gone home, told his wife what he’d done ,and invited them to go to Church (on a Wednesday night!). He’d also taken time to call Mrs. Godwin, who’d taken time to call me. And here they were. From clear across town, they decided they had found a “home.”
The very next Sunday, they joined the Church. From that day, until the time I sadly left the Church, I could not have asked more faithful members or friends. To this moment, years afterward, I cannot name anyone whom I know who more convincingly than Ted consistently demonstrates the power and validity of The NEW BIRTH! If Jesus had been looking for “Before” and “After ads” for any kind of conversion campaign, Ted would have been an excellent choice!
In a world filled with “counterfeits,” it is a source of great joy to encounter genuine, authentic, powerfully persuasive, genuine spiritual currency!!
I realized this was just a beginning. But it sure seemed to be a brand new, authentic beginning!
There’s more to this story, and it begs to be told.
God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student ~donkimrey