Dear Ministry Partners,
I don’t remember the last time a visitor walked into the door of a church I was leading with his, or her, heart already fully prepared to become the Lord’s, but it happened today.
A young man named O’Neil Thomas walked in and sat down just a little after we had started Sunday School this morning. He, very obviously, felt a little awkward, but followed my Sunday School lesson from 1 John 2, with obvious interest.
I went to him between Sunday School and Church and asked if he had been to the church before and, then, how he found us. He explained that he worked security around the clock, even sleeping on the property, at a nearby construction project. He said that he had been baptized in a church, but didn’t feel right about it, and that he had been profoundly burdened about attending our church to get things right with God every time he’d gone by but had, until today, been hindered from coming each time he’d intended to.
Neither he, nor I, knew that the Lord had planned for him to walk in on the day I was preaching John 3:14-21. I believe in a sovereign God, so I’m well aware that my role in what happened in his life today was minor, and that it was, in reality, the end of a period of the Holy Spirit’s grinding on his conscience, but, praise the Lord, it was on our watch that the Holy Spirit so touched his conscience that he couldn’t wait another day to make known to God what was going on in his heart.
We could have worked for years without ever having had someone so motivated to be saved walk in the door, but we’re so very grateful that the Lord brought O’Neil today.
The Lord had blessed us with a visit from the music pastor (Nate Sexton) and his family from our sending church which ended earlier in the week. It was a great visit, but it seemed like the Lord peeled back an ugly part of Jamaica everywhere we took them. We were mocked at the Mandeville fruit and vegetable market for being “white as chickens”, the vendors at the souvenir market in Ocho Rios were as aggressive as we’ve ever seen them, and one of those vendors, who we had considered a very good friend, responded to our visit to the market so hatefully that we had, until today, been hanging our heads all week. She made clear, and broke our hearts in doing so, that our “friendship” was really just a means to a financial end for her. We were her friends, but she was never really ours.
It’s hard not to take personally personal attacks from people to whom you’ve been very generous. That said, though we know the Lord didn’t schedule His work in O’Neil’s life to accommodate our feelings, his having come to church today was a “shot in the arm” we really needed.
That said, we had much more to report this month, but we’re going to stop at simply thanking the Lord for having called and saved a sinner-turned-believer and you for having fulfilled your role by sending someone to preach the Gospel to him (Romans 10:14-15). How awesome to be a part of a plan that always works as designed!
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica