“He looked sad enough to bring a tear to a glass eye.” I heard this saying growing up, but now I was seeing it for myself. His name was Steve. I was a new church planter, and he was my first visit on the first week; a Baptist planting a church in a 97-percent Roman Catholic community, just 12 miles from the New Orleans International Airport.
Our new community had the distinction of being named the Andouille (pronounced “On-du-ee”) Capital of the World. Just in case you don’t know, Andouille is a French Cajun sausage. Basically a sausage that is not ground very well with various kinds of meats mashed up in it. “Andouille” is very close to the word for “imbecile” in French. I can understand why. But I digress.
Steve was in distress. His job was in jeopardy. He had just been diagnosed with heart disease and blockages. On top of all that, his now second wife was threatening to leave him. The family was raised Roman Catholic but were now out of church because of the previous divorces (he and his wife). “Distress” doesn’t do his situation justice. Broken. That’s what he was, and I told him that I couldn’t help him.
I could not help Steve, but knew someone who could. He agreed that only God could help him now. So I asked him if I could use his Bible. He took the family Bible which was resting between two candles, off the shelf.
We turned to Romans 1:16. I had him read the verse aloud. Once he understood that the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus and the Kingdom of God was for him and had power to save him, we went through what many call the Roman Road to Salvation. He read Romans 3:23; 5:8-10; 6:23 and then 10:9-10 before he was ready to call on the Lord and that is what Steve did. He turned what life he had over to Jesus Christ that night.
I told Steve to come to our service on Sunday. There he would tell all who were present what God has done for him. It turned out that we had about 30 people on Sunday. Steve came, and at the close of the service he told everyone that Jesus has forgiven him and changed his life. His wife was with him. It was beautiful. This is why I was in ministry. But it was just the beginning.
Steve must have been related to most of the people in that Louisiana parish. They saw the change in Steve. He told them what Jesus had done for him. He brought his family to church; he brought his friends to church, and he brought his co-workers to church. We doubled in attendance and in baptisms almost immediately.
I’ll make a candid confession to you. I had nothing to do with it. It was God working through Steve and those he was bringing. God had mercy on a young Baptist church planter. God had mercy on us all.
I shudder to think what our planting experience would have been like if I hadn’t gone to visit him, a person in need. It goes to show that you never know what God is really going to do in any situation. All we can do is be available, obedient and trust God with the results.
Perhaps God is doing something in and around you to transition you into a new ministry. Maybe it’s to start a new church, a different kind of church. Whatever it may be, God is in the business of wiping tears from eyes, even glass ones.