Joy and Jeff's Story

How ten years of prayer changed lives: Joy and Jeff's story

I knew very early on in my Christian life that my spiritual gift was evangelism, although I wouldn’t have known what that word meant or even that there was such a word as “evangelism”. I simply knew that my heart’s desire was to share Jesus with anyone I met. My first thought when I met someone new was always, “I wonder if they know about Jesus?”

As a teenager, I took any course I could, within driving distance, on “witnessing” (that was the term I understood). Later on into my adulthood, I taught Sunday school at my church, and yet even this did not fill the desire to share the Good News.

All this changed in 2006, when my church hired our first Outreach Pastor, Ron Seabrooke. I remember very clearly on one of his first Sundays at WBC, Pastor Ron walked past me and said, “Hi Joy, I am praying for you in regards to WBC outreach.” He didn’t say anything else, and I watched with mixed emotions as he carried on past me. “How did he know my spiritual gift is evangelism?” I thought.

After his comment, I felt a hope spring up within me for the first time ever, hope that I could pursue my calling to evangelism in my local community. Soon, we began planning to run our first Christianity Explored course.

I felt hope spring up within me... that I could pursue my calling to evangelism in my local community.

At that time, I was working in a dental office. One day, I remember very distinctly, a young man – a boy really, on the brink of manhood -- came into the office for his regular dental appointment.

I saw sad eyes (which he now says were likely just his dislike for dentist appointments). I was drawn to him and started to pray for his salvation. Unexpectedly, this same young man showed up at our home that summer, dating our daughter.

My husband Rick and I were a bit skeptical of the relationship and wondered if God knew what He was doing. But my long-time friend and mentor Lori in her wisdom and wit, stated to me, “Joy, God has deemed to use nine months for a natural birth to happen. Let’s at least give God nine months for a spiritual rebirth to happen.” So together Lori and I started to pray for Mike’s salvation. Meanwhile, God prepared another young man to befriend Mike in college that fall, and eventually, Mike was saved in February 2006!

I was excited to get to work the following Monday, to pull his dental chart and confirm the date I had started to pray for him. As soon as I saw the date, I called my friend Lori and exclaimed, “May 12, 2005. Today is February 13, 2006. Do the math.” We laughed together at God’s sense of humor. Mike was neither premature nor overdue. God took exactly nine months for Mike’s rebirth.

Though Mike didn’t come to Christ through Christianity Explored, his story threaded the needle and began stitching together the stories, events, and miracles God brought about in our lives for these next 14 years.

Shortly after Mike met Christ, he sat in our living room and prayed for the salvation of his parents, Gary and Rose. My husband and I decided to invite them to our very first Christianity Explored group that fall. Gary and Rose accepted the invitation out of politeness to Rick and I, but by the end of the course they became a brother and sister in Christ. One summer later, we joined our families together as we celebrated the marriage of their son Mike to our daughter Miranda.

People don't always get saved instantly, just because they take the CE course. Some take an extra effort in time and prayer. Such was the case with Jeff.

Jeff’s family became very dear to me – I believe because of the many years I prayed for them. For ten years I prayed for Jeff to come to a CE course, to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I watched God move in his family and bring them through situations that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that God was in control. Still, Jeff resisted the Gospel.

Then in the winter of 2017, he came to a Christianity Explored course. He heard the message and he left with no discernible response. Yet God never gave up on him. Jeff and I became “email buddies” after this. He started asking questions that allowed me to understand Jeff’s heart more deeply. God cultivated between us an understanding of common personal struggles and a feeling of trust was established. In Jeff’s words, I was now able to share openly and honestly about my faith with him because I had “won the right.” Jeff knew I cared for him as a person, and because of this, he felt I could explain biblical truths to him without feeling that I was judging him.

Finally, in 2019 Jeff came to another CE group session that we were hosting at WBC. He brought along a friend. This time there was something different about Jeff, something that only God could change. There was a hunger and a thirst for understanding. For the first time ever he understood the meaning of grace. He came to understand that nothing he could do was good enough to save him. During our CE course, Jeff and his friend both accepted Jesus Christ.

During our CE course, Jeff and his friend both accepted Christ.

When I asked Jeff about what ultimately led him to accept Christ after so long, he said; “I would never have been able to open up if I didn’t trust you or if I felt judged. It seemed like everything fit. I never felt like anything was pushed onto me. Knowing you like I do know, and knowing that you feel your purpose is to lead as many people to God as possible, you still never pushed it. I think that calm and that lack of judgement you have, and the faith, is a great way to lead people towards Jesus. I do believe it is a rare approach that I had never experienced before. Hence why I say it just fit.”

Our journey with Christianity Explored has continued yearly since then. It’s a wonderful, intertwining story of God’s faithfulness and powerful answers to prayer, as each spring our CE course comes to an end, and we start to pray for next year’s harvest.


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