My friend Rudy sat in my office today and told me the definitive story that drives his witness.
“I was living in a northern state and driving an hour and a half each way to work inside Canada. On the way, I drove through this Indian reserve, a real poor place with lots of ramshackle houses. This particular morning, going past the reserve I noticed a fellow working on a car and lying half-way under it. At that moment, the Holy Spirit told me to stop and witness to him. I didn’t do it.”
“All the time I drove on to work, I kept thinking, ‘I should have done it.’ But I knew I would have been late for work if I had. All day, it ate at me. I should have stopped.”
“That evening on my way home, I decided I would stop by his house and find the man I’d seen under the car that morning. To my surprise, there were cars everywhere and a crowd had gathered. I got out of my car and said to them, ‘I want to see the man who was working on his car here this morning.’ Somebody said, ‘He’s dead. He got killed in a traffic accident today.'”
“That was one lesson I had to learn the hard way,” Rudy said, “and one I will never forget. When the Lord says to do something, do it.”
Rudy may be the most consistent soulwinner I know. He told me of the time he went fishing with a friend and some fellows he had never met. “My friend is a Christian,” he said, “but he sort of compartmentalizes his Christianity. He introduced me to these guys and said, ‘Watch yourself today. Rudy is a preacher.'”
“That did it. They clammed up and hardly said two words to me. I knew I was going to have to loosen them up or we’d never get to know one another. I have a favorite little joke that I decided to tell them. I said, ‘Say, do either of you know how to sell a duck to somebody who is hard of hearing?’ They looked at each other, and one said, ‘What was that?’ The other said, ‘Do we know how to sell a duck to somebody who is hard of hearing?’ They looked at me and said, ‘I reckon not.'”
Rudy said, “WANNA BUY A DUCK??!!” at the top of his lungs.
The men burst out laughing and kept laughing for the next five minutes. (Rudy’s wife Rose said, “That’s a guy joke. I think it’s stupid.”) Rudy said, “But that loosened them up and we had a great time that day, and yes, I did tell them about the Lord.”
How did he do that? “Well, I said to them, ‘I went to a funeral the other day and I noticed something strange.” Pause. “There was no U-Haul there. He didn’t take it with him.”
That led into the conversation, and Rudy took it from there.
My story about obeying the Lord–what Scripture calls not quenching the Spirit (I Thess. 5:19)–goes back to seminary days when I was pastoring the little Baptist church at Paradis, Louisiana, 25 miles west of New Orleans on U.S. 90. One night I called on the McCain family which had been visiting our church. Well, the mother and two children had. I’d never met Mr. McCain, who worked at the Avondale Shipyards.
I dropped by their home, Mr. McCain was still at work, I had a nice visit with the rest of the family, and I was preparing to leave when the dad arrived. I introduced myself, chatted with him a moment, and then, because it was getting toward 9 o’clock and I felt I was over-staying my welcome, I left.
Now, I have a five mile drive to my home in Paradis. And suddenly, I get this overwhelming feeling that the Lord is telling me to return and witness to Mr. McCain. I start arguing, “Lord, I was just there. It would be embarrassing to turn around and go back. It’s too late.” But I knew, I knew. I was supposed to do it.
Have you ever bargained with the Lord? I said, “Lord, there is one traffic light on this highway, the one at Boutte. If it’s red and I have to stop, I’ll know I’m to go back.” But I knew there was little traffic that time of night and the light is almost always green. Well, you know the rest of the story. The light was red so long, I could have walked around the car twice. So I turned around and went back.
Now my problem was what to say when they opened the door. After all, I’d just been there. This was really embarrassing.
When Lynn McCain opened the door, I said, “I really apologize, sir, but after I left I just felt like I needed to come back and talk with you. Would that be all right?” He was the nicest man on the planet. He said, “Certainly. I’d love to visit with you.” It was the easiest thing I’d ever done, but I had convinced myself it would be so difficult.
When I left 30 minutes later, we had become friends and he had heard the Lord’s plan of salvation. The next Sunday he sat with his family in church. Not long after that, the Lord moved me to a church in Greenville, Mississippi, and I never saw Lynn McCain again. But we talked.
He called me long distance one day. “Brother Joe, I’m ready to give my life to the Lord. Tell me again how to do that.” We went over the way to be saved and prayed together, and Jesus Christ came into his life. He joined that church and was baptized, and a few years later, went to Heaven.
After I returned to pastor in Kenner in 1990, his widow drove down from Prairieville–just outside Baton Rouge–for one of our Christmas services, and we became reacquainted. The teenage son, Mike, was living up north and had become a minister of the Gospel. We’ve not chatted lately, but for a long time Mike was a regular reader of this website.
Do not quench the Spirit. The Lord knows what He is up to. He’s looking for people who trust Him enough to stop what they are doing and who might even risk a little embarrassment to do His will.