As I recounted in my last blog post, the high point of these missions is the Sunday morning service. This service was the culmination of meetings on both Friday and Saturday nights as well as a small group session on the Saturday morning.
On Sunday morning everything is drawn together in a service of worship and Gospel testimony. On that day the resident minister graciously yields the pulpit to the leader of the visiting team; in this case, me.
Although I was a trained preacher at that time, the idea was not to deliver a sermon but rather to testify to what God had done in my life and how I had come into a saving relationship with Jesus.
As I spoke that morning, I was deeply conscious of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. My hands trembled and I was close to tears as I recounted the wonder of how Jesus had reached out to me through my best friend when I was 30 years of age.
I could see that He was moving in the hearts of the congregation as well, for a holy hush enveloped the building like a soft cloud and every person in the considerable crowd was focused in rapt attention.
At the end of my testimony I articulated the Gospel as clearly as I could so that everyone there would understand and be able to respond.
I have never been keen on the, “While all heads are bowed and every eye closed” altar call, so I simply said something like; “If you would like to respond to the offer of life in Jesus’ name then get out of your pew and come to the front so I can minister to you personally.”
It was a traditional church building and I came down from the pulpit and stood just behind the communion rail facing the people. For a while nothing happened. Nobody made a sound, but the very atmosphere in the sanctuary was charged with expectant tension.
Then an old man stood up and walked as rapidly as he could to the front. He was very old, yet he threw himself down on his knees at the altar rail. His face was upturned and tears poured down the deep wrinkles in his cheeks.
With a loud voice he cried out to the Lord to be saved. At that moment it was as if a sluice gate had opened and people poured to the front from all over the sanctuary area. There was not enough room for them all at the altar rail but still they came, kneeling on the carpet right back to the first row of pews.
I will never forget this sight! What started with a vision of a young boy drowning in a submerged bus and crying silently for help, had ended with an old man kneeling at an altar rail crying out loudly for salvation.
Thank you Lord Jesus for allowing me to witness this; I will forever be grateful.