Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dr. Don Moore, a retired Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He serves on the ABSC Task Force on Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening.
The decision had been made. Colt Baptist Church would not go along with the trends and dismiss services on Sunday night January 1, 2017. The afternoon was fretful for the pastor. He resented the fact that he made the decision to get ready and go out in the cold to do a service when he knew other pastors would be at home with their family and friends celebrating the New Year. He speculated there wouldn’t be many people present.
What he didn’t know is the story that follows.
In the community, in a ramshackle house trailer, was a couple whose troubled lives were moving closer to wasteness. Gary and Kim were addicted to drugs and alcohol and their addictions had drained them of hope, as well as money. Their electricity and other utilities had been cut off. Dirty needles had left Gary with hepatitis and Kim had developed seizures.
“When it rains, there is as much that falls inside as outside,” Gary said.
One night Gary was overwhelmed with a desperation for God. He and Kim sauntered down the highway, discussing their need to “go to church.” They came upon a sign that said Colt Baptist Church would be having services that night. They argued back and forth about whether to go to church or not. They finally walked down the road, across the highway, and approached the front door.
“That was the heaviest door I ever tried to open,” Gary said.
‘They would not want us in there. They will not accept us. We are dirty. We have awful body odor. We will not know how to act,’ The couple thought. For two people who had faced all kinds of dangerous situations in life, it is hard to imagine them being afraid. But they knew something had to change. Life could not go on without a change.
Inside the doors, a few ‘faithful saints’ welcomed them with open arms. Pastor Clint Haynes would soon meet the couple and from there, the Gospel, with its resurrection power, took hold of their hearts and they were “raised from spiritual death.” It’s a night the pastor will never forget.
Eager to learn and grow, Gary and Kim became regulars in all of the activities and ministries of the church. They learned about the Bible, prayer, and godliness. They learned that baptism is a testimony to a new life begun when one is saved. They desired to be baptized, but a question came up about their testimony.
Pastor Haynes helped them understand that their testimony would not be good if they continued to live together without being married. They were not resistant at all. Haynes went with them to the county courthouse to help them take care of their license and marriage. The next Sunday night, he baptized them.
Some months passed with continued growth. Local pastors began to carry a cross around town where they would stop and pray for different neighborhoods and businesses. The community started to take notice and stopped along the streets, requesting prayer.
Gary and Kim told Haynes they would like to start a prayer ministry in the community. When he explored further what they had in mind, he was told that they wanted to park their car in a parking lot and put a sign on their car inviting people who needed prayer to stop and they would pray with them. Their boldness to do this, and their confidence in God hearing and answering prayer was tremendously inspiring.
Many people came for prayer until the fear of spreading COVID-19 made it impractical to continue. There were times when two or three cars would be in line for the next spot to pray with them. They are hopeful that the ministry can begin again when the pandemic is under control and the weather is conducive to it.
A comfortable house and a dependable car are now theirs. Gary has been able to get a driver’s license and works all around town helping people who have odd jobs that need to be done. If the hepatitis treatments continue to work in bringing a cure, Gary hopes to find regular employment.
As Gary and Kim have matured they have become very aware that they are where they are and what they are by God’s grace. They are guarded to not let anyone think that they deserve some credit for their transformation. All glory, honor, and praise go to Jesus Christ.
One cannot hear their story without wondering how many more people like them are in our communities with the same type of problems and with the same fears of coming to church. Seeing the dramatic impact of the grace of God in these two lives gives us great encouragement to share the Gospel with others.
Most of Gary and Kim’s relatives have been left in the past in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona. As their story is told and reaches family and friends, there is every reason to believe that many others will come to a saving faith in Jesus. A video was streamed on the internet with them telling their story recently. People from their past are learning about the Gospel, and how Jesus coming into one’s life can bring about deliverance, freedom, hope, and reformation. God will use their witness to bring many others to salvation in Jesus.