I never would have believed that going to a movie would change my life forever.
Growing up in Arkansas City, Kan., I went to church fairly regularly but had no personal relationship with God. While working as a radio announcer in high school and as a student at Wichita State University (WSU), I met an evangelist who witnessed to me faithfully, but I was not interested.
In the fall of 1966, she invited me to see Billy Graham’s film The Restless Ones. My girlfriend and I went. We responded to the invitation, but neither of us really understood the message. A couple of weeks later, I received Mr. Graham’s book, “Peace With God.” I put it with my other books.
Although I was studying philosophy and seeking answers to life’s purpose, I became more confused. But God was using many people and circumstances to reach me. Finally, in 1967, I began to read “Peace With God” along with my Bible, and the truth was made clear to me. One evening in April 1967, alone in my dorm room at WSU, I knelt by my bed and accepted Christ as my Savior. Old things passed away, and all things became new as His peace swept over me (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). I began to attend church and became involved with a Christian group on campus.
At first, my parents were quite concerned. I tried to share my faith but was rather clumsy. I left Christian literature in my room at home for them to read.
I was excited to drive to Kansas City in 1969 to help sort commitment cards at Billy Graham’s Crusade. My parents surprised me by driving from Arkansas City one evening for a service. They came with full intentions of going forward when Mr. Graham extended the invitation–and they did!
That same summer, I began working part-time in the youth ministry at my church. My parents joined my church, and it was a joy to watch them grow in the Lord. At church, I also met and fell in love with Cheryl, the woman who would become my wife.
In 1971 I became youth pastor at Kansas City Baptist Temple (KCBT). Not long afterward, Cheryl and I were privileged to live in Central America as missionaries, with me serving as a pastor, for 10 years.
When the invitation came for me to return to KCBT as senior pastor in 1984, Cheryl and I had no doubts. We knew it was God’s plan for us.
God has moved mightily in our lives over these years as He has blessed our ministry at KCBT. Reflecting on the movie, Mr. Graham’s book and the Kansas City Crusade, I am amazed and humbled to realize how God plants the smallest seeds that grow together to produce a harvest.
Life has come full circle for me. I was deeply touched when asked to be a vice chairman of the 2004 Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade. I weep when I think of the seeds that are being planted right here in our nation’s heartland. We can hardly wait to reap the harvest!