By David Eubanks
In the spring of 1963, while I was a professor at Johnson University, I preached for the Main Street Christian Church, McConnelsville, Ohio. It was the most productive revival I have ever held in terms of attendance growth and responses for both conversion and placing membership with the congregation. In a church running 150 on Sunday morning, the attendance increased every night to more than 300 on Friday evening, with chairs set up and down the aisles and even on the platform. The whole experience was exhilarating.
There were 79 responses to the invitation, 39 of them for baptism into Christ, most of them adults. Charles Wingfield, the preaching minister, had predicted such an outcome; upon my arrival in McConnelsville, he told me the church was ready for revival, and he believed we would have a good one.
On Thursday evening after the service, Charles and I visited late in the home of Lester Terry, who was not a Christian, although his wife was. He had attended nearly all of the services, if not all of them. We spoke to him about his need for a savior in his life and urged him to accept Christ as Lord. I will never forget his response to us. “Fellows, I appreciate your coming to see me,” I remember him saying, “and I really want to come forward, but I just can’t do it.”
There was finality about his words that discouraged Charles and me as we drove back to his home. We both felt it would be unlikely Lester would decide for Christ at this time.
The next evening was the last service of the meeting, and Lester was there. After the preaching, when the invitation was extended, Lester Terry was the first one to step forward, confessing Christ as Lord and being baptized into him. I was amazed at the marvelous change that had taken place in his attitude since our talk the night before. It merely confirmed truths we all should keep in mind as we witness to others: never give up on anyone; where there’s life, there’s hope; and never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit as he works through God’s Word on the human heart.
There’s a wonderful postscript to this story. Hardly more than a year later, Charles and his family were vacationing in East Tennessee and stopped by to worship with us at the Woodlawn Christian Church, where I ministered during the years I taught at Johnson before becoming president. As they were leaving after the Sunday morning service, Charles exclaimed to me: “You’ll never guess who’s preaching for me today at McConnelsville!” Before I could respond, he said, “Lester Terry.”
David Eubanks is the former president of Johnson University. He and his wife, Margaret, have been married for 60 years.