Two men lived in the same suburban community. They happened to ride the same trolley into downtown Dallas to work every weekday—let’s call them Sam and Jim. Sam was an active Baptist who went to church nearly every Sunday and most Wednesdays. Jim never darkened the door of a church.
Now, it so happened that both men had serious health concerns and found themselves in separate hospitals at the same time. Jim’s condition was grave, and his wife was concerned that he was not ready to face death. So she asked, “Honey, do you want me to call a pastor or a good Christian to come and talk to you about forgiveness of sins and going to heaven?”
Jim answered, “No. My good friend Sam is a Christian who goes to church every week. We have spent hours and hours on the trolley over the years talking about everything under the sun. If there was anything to all that stuff—heaven, hell, forgiveness, Jesus—Sam would have surely mentioned it to me; he is my friend.”
And so, Jim died in his sins without any hope of heaven.
George W. Truett used to tell this story. Truett was the pastor of Dallas, Texas, First, from 1897 to 1944. He preached two weeks of evangelistic meetings in Fort Worth in June 1917. Those evangelistic sermons were transcribed and put into a book titled, “A Quest for Souls.” Truett used that story in one of those sermons.
“A Quest for Souls” is quite a title. A quest is a long search; a search that endures and overcomes obstacles. A quest involves passion, patience and persistence. A person on a quest for souls lives with a deep, abiding, prevailing burden to win men and women, boys and girls, to faith in Jesus.
It comes as no surprise that lost people often show little concern for their souls. It should trouble us deeply to recognize that we show such little concern for their souls. What would happen if just a Gideon’s army of Oklahoma Baptists would begin to live our lives on a quest for souls?
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
—“Rescue the Perishing” by Fanny J. Crosby