I’m dreaming, right? Hallucinating?
By the time I again took a seat the Preacher-man had shifted from prophesying mode to Holy Ghost fund-raising. I sat quiet, weeping, marinating in a fog of wonder.
Rev. G.C. had drawn a bill from his wallet. Waving it to the gathering, he sounded a challenge.
“Who’ll join me tonight in getting this young man and his wife over to Africa. . . so they can start doing God’s work?”
An offering basket had found its way to the preacher’s side. In minutes it overflowed. Although the week of meetings had not been billed as a Missions conference, everyone present was now taken by a get-the-gospel-to-the-world passion. Spontaneous generosity flowed, with cash gifts and pledged offerings fully meeting Ann and my travel costs. Africa, here we come. Wow.
The road trip with its surprise happenings drew to a close. My good mentor-friend and I headed back to San Antonio. “Brother Jerry,” David’s his easy drawl interrupted the silence as the car hummed southward. “Isn’t this something? Hasn’t this trip been just something? Imagine what Ann’s going to say.”
Whatever my wife might voice, the thing I was surely not ready for was what David himself – my fellow student and ministry friend – would be saying.
Next Lord’s Day arrived for Eastwood Baptist. Our worship service was underway. A couple of late arrivals settled into their pews and Pastor David was at the podium.
“You know, folks, our Lord is an amazing God.” David eased into the topic of the Oklahoma visit just past. Stationed at my usual spot at the platform, mentally reviewing a hymn I would soon guide the worshipers in, I heard David mention my name.
Oh my goodness, I thought. Is he going to have me tell these very baptisty Baptists about the Big Georgia preacher-man? About the prophecy things in Okmulgee? Oh my.
In a matter-of-fact gesture, David turned my way.
“. . so I’d like Brother Jerry to come and share something of what God did there.”
Stepping forward I surveyed the gathering. Dear folks Ann and I had grown fond of – devoted fellow-travelers on a heaven-bound road, sat quietly. I realized how close we had become. The anxiety dialed down.
In a few words, void of terms and clichés common to my Pentecostal upbringing, I shared with our faith community. The words came easily. No persuasive tone was needed. I sensed that they readily understood, that they welcomed, even celebrated the news. Of added confirmation to our call. In their attentive, Baptist kind of way.
God was setting things in motion. Ann’s precocious childhood forecast, “When I grow up I’m going to be a missionary in Africa”, was nearing fulfillment. We would go together.
The microphone passed back to David. Another surprise awaited.
©2017 Jerry Lout