Immediately after I gave my heart to Jesus, at the age of seven, I wanted to share Him with others. Using the example of evangelists who came to our church, I tried my hand at mass-evangelism.
It wasn't difficult to get a crowd. First, there were my many brothers and sisters, and also our big back yard was one of the nicest on the block. The Weeping Willow tree and the creek full of tadpoles, crawdads and other creatures was a magnet which drew kids from all over the neighborhood. About three feet up from its base, the trunk of the willow split into three prongs. In the center of them was just enough room for one seven-year-old boy to stand. It made a dandy pulpit.
One fine summer afternoon, with the help of Paul, Sarah and other siblings, we gathered all our friends and had them sit in rows beneath the sheltering green cathedral formed by the willow branches. Pulling our Red Ryder wagon over to the base of the willow, I used it as a step to mount to the crotch in the tree.
To an eager crowd of about a dozen kids, I announced it was time for the service to begin. First, Paul prayed an invocation, then Sarah led everybody in singing, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine... Let it shine till Jesus comes ... Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." With the mood properly set and hearts mellowed by the worship, I began my sermon. It was one of my favorite Bible stories and one I felt especially appropriate for the setting.
I exhorted my congregation: "Zacheus was a wee little man, just about as little as we are, and he was a sinner too. One day, Zacheus heard that Jesus was passing by and he climbed up a Sycamore tree, just like I climbed up into this Weeping Willow. When Jesus saw him, he called out 'Zacheus, you come down from that tree.'
After he climbed down, Jesus went to his house for tea. Just like Jesus went into Zacheus' home, He will come into your heart if you will repent of your sins, open the door of your heart, and let Him in."
At that point I paused, lowered my voice, and instructed: "Every head bowed and every eye closed." I'd seen altar calls a thousand times in church and knew exactly how to do it. I asked those who had never invited Jesus to come into their hearts to raise their hands, and 3 or 4 of the kids did just that. Sarah was singing softly, "Just as I am, without one plea...."
I told those who had raised their hands to get down on their knees right there by the creek bank. As they did, and the rest of us "saints" gathered around. We laid our hands on them and prayed earnestly for their salvation with shouts of "Glory to God!" "Hallelujah" and "Thank You Jesus!"
NOTE: This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, "Growing up Pentecostal." I have several chapters posted at www.growinguppentecost.blogspot.com.
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