Fourteen years ago on August 8th, I was wearing a dress with sunflowers on it. David Smallwood, an evangelist, was preaching a revival at Ashland Terrace Baptist Church. I didn’t really know anyone there. I had only visited a few times. The people seemed friendly enough.
I don’t remember the songs the choir sang that day. I don’t remember the sermon that was preached that morning. I do remember the invitation David Smallwood gave after the sermon. I remember my hands were gripping the back of the pew in front of me so hard that my knuckles were white. I remember my face was a tearful, snotty mess by the time he issued the invitation. I was under conviction of the Holy Spirit I later learned.
Brother Smallwood said, “ If you know God has been talking to you this morning and you are still in your seat, it is because you are full of pride. You are too concerned with what other people think about you. Quit caring what other people think about you. Start caring what God thinks about you. Get out of your seat and come do business with God.” That was the nudge God knew I needed to hear.
I didn’t know what to say to the pastor when I got to the front of the sanctuary. I didn’t know how to ask Jesus to forgive me and save me. I was twenty-three and had rarely heard about Jesus. I remember being scared and thinking about making a mad dash out of the sanctuary. Now I know that was the devil trying to stop my path to salvation.
The pastor was sensitive enough to realize I had no idea what to do but I so desperately wanted Jesus to give me a new life. He softly called his wife, Faith, to come up from her nearby seat. She shook my hand and led me to one of the Sunday school rooms. We sat down and she asked me what it was I wanted. I couldn’t find the words to tell her. She asked me did I want to be saved. I nodded. She asked me did I realize I was a sinner. I nodded.
Faith then opened her Bible and read verses to me from Romans. I later found out what we read together was the Romans Road to Salvation. Faith was so patient and so kind as I looked up each Scripture to see what they said for myself. We read “There is none righteous. No. Not one.” (Romans 3:10) I knew that included me. We then read “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12) and “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Faith asked me did I believe Christ died for me. I answered I did.
Then I learned that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Did I believe God raised Christ from the dead? You better believe I believed that. I still do. Then Faith and I read one more verse. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Faith asked me when we were through reading these verses did I understand what we had read. When I answered that I did, Faith then told me all I had to do to be saved was pray and ask Jesus to save me. Faith bowed her head and said a simple prayer as an example. She said I could say my own prayer and ask Jesus for salvation. I told Jesus I was a sinner and I needed his forgiveness. I asked Jesus to be my Savior.
When I had finished praying, Faith read me one more Scripture from Luke.
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, it was trampled on and the birds ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.
Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
Faith told me it looked like God had chosen the good soil of my heart for the seed of His Word to take root. I remember feeling a happiness beyond anything I had ever felt before after asking Jesus for forgiveness. Faith then told me to write down the day’s date because in my walk with Christ there would be many times when satan would try to make me think I was not saved. He would try to make me believe God did not love me. When those times come, I can take him back to that day when I asked God to be my Savior.
As I got up out of my seat to leave, Faith gave me another advice. She told me to be sure and tell other people what Jesus had done for me that day. That is some advice I still try to follow today.