By Ben Merold
Those who work in evangelism rarely suffer from boredom. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit brings many surprises to the one who sets about to bring people to Jesus Christ.
In my 59 years of evangelistic work, I have witnessed many unusual conversions. I will not go into great detail but I do want to tell you about several experiences that were surprising to me.
Climbing a Pole
I was conducting revival services in a small Midwestern city and calling on prospective converts with the local preacher. We stopped to talk to a man working on electric wires and a transformer. He was on a small platform at the top of a pole, and the preacher informed him that we would like to talk to him. He told us if we wanted to talk to him we would have to come up to his work platform. I went up the pole and talked to him about Christ and the church.
He started attending services that night and made his decision for Christ a few nights later. He was baptized that same night. A few years later he was transferred to another state and started attending the local Christian church where he became a powerful influence in the youth program.
My uncle, while on vacation, attended that church and became well acquainted with this man. One evening they were talking about their conversion experiences, and my uncle heard about the evangelist who surprised this guy by climbing a pole to tell him about salvation. My uncle was also somewhat surprised to find out that I was the evangelist.
The Man in the Field
The convicting power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God can surprise us by bringing sudden changes of mind to the hearer. I was talking to a successful farmer in his field, and he told me he would not be baptized nor did he see any reason why he should make a confession of faith in Christ.
I felt compelled to quote Mark 16:16 after every objection. I must have quoted that verse eight or nine times and I left a very angry farmer standing at the gate to that field. However, he came to the 7:00 pm service that night, made his confession of faith, and was baptized. Later he said he just couldn’t get Mark 16:16 out of his mind and felt he had to obey it quickly.
I conclude that we often try to do that which only God can do. First Corinthians 3:5, 6 teaches us we are to plant and water but it is God who gives the increase. If we plant and water by the use of God’s Word there will be some good results, and often the results are surprising.
My New Glasses
At about age 51 I purchased my first pair of eyeglasses after an eye examination. On the Sunday night after receiving my glasses I started a series of sermons at a church in central California.
On Monday afternoon we called on a man who was about as belligerent as anyone I have ever met. He was rude and insulting, but I did manage to show him some of the Scriptures concerning sin and salvation. That night I sat on the front pew trying to read the words of the songs through my new glasses. I was having a hard time adjusting to them and, in disgust, took them off and left them on that pew as I got up to preach.
When we extended the invitation this rude guy came down the aisle all the way from the back of the building. His appearance led me to believe he was coming to fight me. However, he stopped in front of the Communion table, let out an audible sigh, dropped down on the front pew, and smashed my new glasses.
He never knew it, and I never told him. He confessed Christ as Savior and was baptized—it changed his life and his attitude.
By the way, I was able to have another pair of glasses made within two days. I had seen the convicting power of the Holy Spirit work through the Word of God and change that man into a new creation. I still think the price of another pair of glasses was worth it.
The Flight Attendant
I was preaching the closing sermon for a convention in a Southern state. I was instructed to refrain from extending the invitation to accept Christ as Savior because there would probably be no non-Christians present, and the purpose of that service was not evangelism.
As I preached I felt led to extend the invitation using the chosen closing song. I believe I commented that we could sing it again as a closing song if someone responded.
Someone did respond! A beautiful young lady, a flight attendant, stepped out and came for confession of faith and baptism. We learned that this flight attendant had been walking back to a hotel after the dinner hour, and upon impulse, came inside for the service. To my knowledge, she is still faithful and active.
A 94-year-old Man
Then there was the time a 94-year-old gentleman responded for confession and baptism supported by two grandsons. I believe one, perhaps both, of the grandsons were deacons in the congregation. The man became a citizen of Heaven and, a few months later, became ill and died. He got in just under the wire, didn’t he?
I could tell you stories about many more conversions—and I have some really good stories about baptismal services. Perhaps our editor will ask me to write those stories some time in the future.
Ben Merold still travels and speaks across the country from his home base as minister with Harvester Christian Church, St. Charles, Missouri. If you’d like to hear his baptism stories, just jot us a note. You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org