Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
--From the Gospel of John
“Now during the final months Rob joked that we had never given him a FAITH visit, which is a visit that we give to all who come to the church if they fill out a visitor registration card and share our faith with them,” I said.
“Oh god, you are one of those people? You visit people and pressure them to convert? Damn it! I knew you people were crazy.” Don stood up as if wanting to leave.
“Just listen, Don.”
“Okay, fine, go ahead.” Don sat down.
“I thought Rob was joking, but there was some truth to it. So on my final week of being at Fayetteville, I called Rob.”
‘Rob we are going to come over and do a FAITH visit, is that cool?’
He was like, ‘No, I am over at Schmitty’s house having a beer, not tonight.’ I was disappointed, but ten minutes later my cell phone rang.
‘Can you be at the house in 10 minutes?’ Rob asked.
‘No problem,’ I told him.
“Now we went over there with my friends Trace and Joy. On the way, I also called Leslee and told her to meet us there. Joy would be the one to give the presentation of salvation. She had never done it before, so we figured this would be the perfect time to do it, since she was comfortable with Rob and she could mess it up and it would be no big deal. Plus Rob had heard the FAITH presentation a couple times before from me and some of my other friends.
“Before we went in our apartment, I prayed with Trace and Joy. We prayed as normal, that God would speak to Rob. Honestly, I really didn’t think anything spectacular was going to happen, merely because he had heard the presentation a million times, and this was more of a practice for Joy than anything else.
“We went into the apartment and we all sat down around Rob. Joy began the faith presentation. She was worse than I had suspected. She read directly from her card in a monotone voice. It would have been really embarrassing if it had been someone from the church we were visiting, but it was just as disappointing because I knew that Rob would get nothing from this.
“Then something strange happened. While I was listening to Joy read the verses from the Bible that were printed on her card that lead to salvation, the air for me got very heavy. I was thinking this is weird. But the more she read the more tears streamed down my face. I looked away so that no one could see I was losing it. Finally, Joy asked Rob the question, “Understanding what you have heard would you like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.” Rob paused. I held my breath.
‘No, I am not ready, I need to pray about it,’ he said.
“At that moment, I started crying. Not just the crying that is like a sad weepy cry. We are talking whimpering, body convulsing, like you are four years old and you just threw a tantrum crying. I left the room, embarrassed, because this was so unexpected.
“Rob followed me into the foyer, and just hugged me.
“I said, ‘Rob, I love you so much man, but just think how much more God loves you.’
‘I know, I know,’ he said.
“That episode was on a Tuesday. You can imagine the rest of that week was just awkward. I avoided Rob and just felt weird. But Saturday night I went to his room and asked him if he wouldn’t mind coming to my last Sunday School class. He obliged and I was pumped because I had worked so hard on a three point evangelistic sermon to which no one could say, ‘no.’
“The next morning I woke Rob up and reminded him of his promise to come to church. He acknowledged me and then rolled back over. I thought for sure he would be there. I had the class wait a couple extra minutes in hope that he would arrive, but he didn’t. Disappointed, I preached that sermon and then went to sing in the choir. After singing, I sat with the congregation as opposed to my usual spot in the choir loft. My dad was there—he was helping me drive my stuff down to Ft. Benning, GA and I sat next to him. Next to my dad was—Rob. I motioned to him, like, ‘what gives?’ and he mouthed back that he was sorry. I was just glad that he was there to be honest and prayed the pastor might be able to somehow speak to Rob. Dr. Martin, the pastor, preached a sermon entitled—get this…
“Jesus is the Key that Unlocks your Heart.”
“Holy ****,” Don said.
“My heart about came out of my throat while I was listening to the sermon. Rob the whole time I knew him was like, God doesn’t speak to me like he speaks to you and in one moment, it was as if God held a megaphone to Rob’s head.
“After the sermon there was an altar call. You know where the pastor invites those who want to know Christ forward.
“I have seen them before.” Don said. “A long time ago,” he added.
“At the altar call, Rob got up went down and told the Pastor that he wanted Jesus to unlock his heart. He accepted Christ. My prayer had been answered, Don. A couple months later Rob got baptized and a year later he got engaged.”
“To Leslee?” Don asked.
“To Leslee,” I said. “And it is not like Rob was saved and that is it. He has volunteered to teach Sunday school for the singles a couple of times and has shared his testimony with the youth. And when Rob and I get together now, we talk about how amazing God is—like he has been saved his entire life. Maybe one day that will happen to you.
“I don’t know about that,” Don said. “You have an incredible memory. You remembered so many details.”
“Well, I have told the story a couple times, Don. When something like that happens, it is hard not to tell. But that is what I was talking about with my faith. This thing of Jesus is real. I have a bunch more stories like that.”
“I would like to hear them,” Don said. “But not tonight. It’s late. Who would have thought I would be hanging out with two Christians on a curb in uptown? This is surreal.”
“Well you can call us anytime,” I said and Scott Michael nodded.
We parted ways and Scott Michael and I went to his truck.
“What do you think,” he asked.
“I don’t know, I hope he keeps coming to church and that he keeps coming to hang out. I think God is working on him,” I said.
“Yeah, cool night. He at least listened. I mean those were some long stories and he was engaged the whole time. God has to be working.”
“Are you saying I talked too much?” I smiled.
“No, I’m just saying that was a lot to listen to and he stuck it out. He wanted to hear it.”
Scott Michael dropped me off and headed home. I went inside to my apartment and prayed for Don and then went to bed.