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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)

TITLE: Fisher of Men (i)
By Michelle Greene Wheeler


Matthew 4:19. We’ve heard the verse many times; we quote it and vow to cast our own nets for the unsaved just as Jesus himself did. But rarely can the simple example that our Lord used be taken as literally as it was on one fateful September day in 1998.

Randy Bonner had only recently moved his family from their church, family and friends in Alabama to begin a church for the residents of a public housing complex in the mountains of North Carolina. Though still in the South, Spruce Pine might as well have been a world away from Pell City, as nearly everything in their lives would be changed by this move. They left a newly built home with a finely manicured lawn for an apartment in this low-income community. They exchanged a secure position in a large church for a tiny, new church where residents didn't have much for themselves, much less to contribute to a church's funding. They said good-bye to the fellowship of family and friends to attempt to make new friends in a town where some questioned their motives and possibly, even their sanity. A church in a housing project? It was an absurd idea to many.

But what others saw as futile, Randy saw as fertile. God had sent them to this place, for this purpose, and no amount of criticism would keep them from the task that He had set before them.

As the writer of the community's monthly newsletter and a member of its Tenant Council, I was introduced to Randy a few days after his family moved in. Having been out of church for several years, I became excited about the mission that God had called them to our little town for. Randy asked if he could come to our apartment to talk more with me, my husband and our children about the new church, and I whole-heartedly invited him to come the next evening.

To be quite honest, I began to be apprehensive about the meeting on my way back home. How would my husband perceive this new preacher and church? Would he think that I was trying to push him into church? Would he be angry with me for inviting him to our apartment? I was extremely relieved when the following evening came, and my husband, Adam, warmed to Randy immediately. He told Randy that he could count on seeing us the first Sunday that the church would be holding services, and the two men even made plans to go fishing together the next day.

An ordinary fishing trip. Adam was going to show Randy the wonders of trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Adam himself had pulled large Rainbows and Browns out of various holes in the Toe River. Trout fishing was a passion of Adam's. But fishing of an eternal nature was a passion of Randy's.

The two of them started out bright and early the following morning. But it took them a little longer than expected to make it to the river bank. They had to make a bit of a pit-stop, you see.

From almost the first moment Adam stepped into Randy's old Isuzu Trooper, Randy began talking with him about Jesus. No one else recognized anything special about that morning, but God had already prepared Adam's heart for this very day; this very fishing trip. Just a few miles away from the apartment complex, Randy asked Adam if he would like to receive Christ into his heart as his personal Savior. They quickly found themselves pulled to the side of the road, while Randy led Adam in a prayer of salvation.

They fished for a while at the bank of the river once they finally got there. But their excitement was just too great, or they had already lost all interest in actual fish that day, for neither came home with anything to fill the supper plate with.

But neither will ever forget that day. Years have passed, and through them, Randy and Adam have become close friends, church family and brothers in Christ. The church that began that fall is still going strong. They've not taken any more fishing trips together as of yet, but Randy often tells anyone who will listen the story about the day he caught the biggest fish of his life: a 300-pound Adam!

Fellow Christian, take Matthew 4:19 to heart. You never know what you might catch!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jacquelyn Horne02/13/07
Good story. A few errors, but overall good writing.