Theirs was a small church from another state. The pastor had contacted Rudy French about coming down to FBC Norco to help them and to stay in their mission center. “We have nine in our team,” he said. Rudy said, “Come on. We’ll be glad to have you.”
Rudy told our Wednesday pastors group what happened. “They worked hard all week,” he said, “on our playground. I mean they put in 15 hours a day, and it looks beautiful. Toward the end of the week, I told the pastor we want them to have a better experience than just working on our facility. I told him, ‘We’re about evangelism.'”
The pastor asked what Rudy had in mind. “We will buy some plastic laundry baskets,” Rudy said, “for a dollar each. And we’ll fill them with detergents and toiletries and cookies, and go door to door down in St. Bernard Parish and tell people about Jesus.” The pastor said, “We have 300 dollars. How far will that go?”
They bought 18 baskets of goodies to give away. Then Rudy said, “But we’re not just out here giving away supplies. We could knock on their door and set it on the stoop and give away a hundred a day. We want to help these people know the Lord.”
So, Rudy talked to the little church group and gave them training in how to witness. “Every door we go to,” he said, “we’re there to tell them about Jesus.” Intentional evangelism, he calls it.
Saturday, the church group drove to lower St. Bernard Parish and knocked on the doors of 18 homes and talked to the residents and handed out the baskets. The next morning, Rudy preached and the visiting pastor was scheduled to preach that evening. Rudy said, “Your people have worked hard all week. Maybe they’d like to go to Riverwalk or the French Quarter this afternoon so they will feel that they’ve seen New Orleans.”
The pastor said, “No, we have other things we have to do. We’re going back to St. Bernard.” Rudy said, “We don’t have any more baskets to give out.” The pastor said, “We don’t need any more. We’re going to the same homes we visited yesterday.”
Then, Sunday night, the pastor told the congregation what had happened.
On Saturday evening the church group had held their nightly debriefing before retiring. Various ones told of their experiences. One was overwhelmed by all the devastation. Another was thrilled that the Lord used her witness. Then, the pastor came to this 14-year-old girl in the group.
“She was an amazing child,” Rudy told our pastors. “The Holy Spirit literally shines from that girl’s face. She was so wonderful. When the pastor asked her to share that night, she stunned him. She said, ‘I didn’t have a good experience. I thought it was awful.'”
That got the preacher’s attention. “What do you mean?” he said. The teenager looked at the pastor and said, “You must not have heard what Brother Rudy said. He told us we were to share Jesus in every home we entered. I was in your group and, pastor, you talked a lot about Jesus but you never got to the point. You didn’t ask anybody to accept Jesus into their hearts. It was an awful experience.”
The pastor told the Norco church, “I lay awake all Saturday night thinking about what she had said. And I decided we would go back to all those homes this afternoon.”
He said, “The people were surprised when they opened their doors and saw us there. I said, ‘Hello again. You remember we were here yesterday. But today, I felt we needed to come back and apologize to you. Could we come in for a moment?”
Inside, the pastor explained that their purpose had been to tell them about Jesus and how they could know Him as Saviour and be saved and live forever. “But we failed to do that,” he said, “and we want you to forgive us.” Then he would say, “Would you let us do it now?”
And that’s what they had done that Sunday afternoon.
Monday morning, Boogie Melerine, pastor of the Delacroix Hope Baptist Church in the St. Bernard community where the team had been visiting, called Rudy. “We had three first-time visitors in church today,” he said. “They told us they had been visited by you all and that you told them about our church services.” One lady had come down the aisle dripping with tears as she told Boogie she wanted to be saved, that “a man named Rudy came to my house this week and told me about Jesus.”
We thank God for every church group that has come our way. In addition to working on gutting houses and building churches, many of them are witnessing of their faith and introducing our people to Christ. This week, Jim Burton of our North American Mission Board told Freddie Arnold and me that church teams coming to our city are reporting something like one person out of three to whom they witness prays to be saved. An incredibly high percentage.
Thank God for Christian people not afraid to get to the point in their witness.
For a complete report on our Wednesday pastors meeting, go to www.bagnola.org.