Meet my friends Jack and Marian.

(Be sure to read the postscript and the comments at the end.)

When Jack’s mother died, wife Marian realized that God finally had his attention.

Jack loved his mother, a godly woman whom he would never see again unless he changed his ways. Jack had no use for church and religion, but devoted all his weekends to hunting whatever was in season.

Marian asked a godly deacon in her church to pay Jack a visit. Dr. Norris Vest, dentist and devoted soulwinner, dropped in and led Jack to Christ.  That’s when Jack informed Marian he did not care to attend her church.  “Too big,” he said.

They’d heard me on the radio and decided to visit our church out at the edge of town.

I loved this little family from the start.  Jack and Marian had two small girls, Julie and Cindy, who fit right in with the children at our church.

Our friendship has now lasted over 45 years. Margaret and I saw Jack and Marian perhaps once or twice a decade, but we dropped the occasional note and always felt each other’s love.

But what I wanted to tell you is something very special God did with this couple. Well, one of the very special things.

Back when they were new in our church, one Wednesday night, Tish Carroll gave a testimony of her salvation.  She told how Christ had saved her, emphasizing that “I was not a bad person; my sins were pride and self-righteousness.” She beamed as she spoke of the peace and joy Christ had brought into her life.

The next day, Jack and I were talking at the newspaper office where he worked.  “Tish’s testimony really got to Marian last night,” he said.  “She peppered me with questions all the way home.  I don’t know anything about the Bible, Joe. I’m a new Christian myself.  But she wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I got up and slept on the couch to get away from her.”

Like a dunce, I said, “What do you think it is?”

He said, “I think she’s lost.”

That thought had never occurred to me.  Marian had told me she was saved at age 15. When we baptized Jack, she moved her membership from the downtown church.

That evening, when Jack and Marian arrived from work, I was at their home.

Marian, a strikingly beautiful brunette, looked like she had not slept in weeks.  She looked awful.  I said, “Marian, how could you be lost? You told me you were saved.”

She said, “I’ve always been a people pleaser. So, when all my girlfriends got saved in a revival, I saw that my mother was unhappy that I hadn’t also. So I went forward and joined the church.” She said, “Brother Joe, I’ve taught Sunday School. But I’ve never been saved.”

The three of us knelt in their living room as Marian prayed a prayer of repentance and faith.  That day, Jesus Christ entered her life. This was the first time I’d ever seen the Holy Spirit transform a person before my eyes, as Marian came up from that prayer truly radiant, lovely and joyful.  It was wonderful to behold.

I said, “Now, Marian.  God wants you to share this with someone, to tell what He has done for you.”  She said, “I know who it is.”

“Diane works in my office.  She’s not a Christian and she’s married to an atheist.  I want to tell her.”

We prayed for Diane and for Marian as she made plans to share with her the next day at work. That’s when Marian mentioned a problem.

“We have a large office that is very busy.  Diane is always late to work. I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to talk with her.”

I said, “Let’s let the Lord handle that.”

The next morning, as Marian entered the office, Diane was seated at her desk, 10 minutes early.

Okay. I know every detail about what happened next and over the next few weeks. But this might take too long to tell. So, I’ll see if I can abbreviate this a little….

Marian told Diane how she had given her heart to Christ. When she finished, she said, ‘And Diane, that’s going to happen to you too, because I’ve prayed for you.'”

Jack and Marian went out of town for the weekend.

Monday, she called me from work. Diane had grabbed her when she entered the office to say her home had been in a turmoil all weekend from hearing what happened to Marian.  Diane and her father had gone to church Sunday and had wept through the whole service.

Marian said, “Tell me what to tell her.”

I said, “I want to come see her.”

The next night, sitting in their home, only two blocks from my house, I witnessed to atheist Danny first, then to Diane.  He was respectful but not ready for this. All the while, Diane sat on the edge of her chair, drinking it all in. The three of us knelt as she prayed to receive Christ.

She joined our church and was baptized.  Danny began coming to church with her occasionally.

Fast forward a few weeks or months. Diane changed jobs and was working in a smaller office.

Our church was in revival that week, beginning Monday night and ending on Friday. Monday night, Diane was there.  Tuesday night, she brought with her Barbara and Gretchen, two women in her office.  Wednesday night, Barbara sat beside Jamie her husband and Gretchen brought husband Wayne.  Before the week was out, all four had given their lives to Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t end there.

Not long after, the Lord moved me to another church and sent my friend Hugh Martin to that church. Under his ministry, Jamie and Barbara were called by God into the ministry. They went to seminary in Fort Worth and have spent the last 35 or 40 years pastoring churches in the Dallas-Mesquite area.

Wonder how many people Jamie and Barbara have brought into the kingdom over these years?

What if Marian had shrugged off the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that Wednesday night when she heard Tish’s testimony?

What if Marian the new believer had kept her salvation to herself and not told Diane or anyone else of Jesus?

Wonder how many other lives Jack and Marian have touched for Jesus over the decades since?

I wonder how many have been led to Christ, not only by Jack and Marian, but also Diane and Danny (her atheist husband came to Christ a few years later), by Wayne and Gretchen, as well as by Jamie and Barbara.

I wonder who you need to tell about Jesus and what He means to you.

I wonder what God will do with your testimony and the lives you touch for Jesus’ sake.

I’ll tell you this: We will not learn the answers to these questions until we stand before the Lord at Judgment.

Let us be faithful now.  The harvest is great; the laborers are few and tired and some are faltering.

Would you pick up the slack.  There’s room in the harvest field for more workers.

POST SCRIPT:  As I write, my friend Jack is lying in the hospital nearing the moment when the Lord calls him home to glory.  The doctors have ceased all treatment for the fast-acting brain tumor and are just trying to keep him comfortable.  Please lift Marian and their family to Christ for His comfort and strength.

6 thoughts on “Meet my friends Jack and Marian.

  1. Thank you for pointing me to this blog. You are right; I know him well and he’s left a legacy by showing others how eternal matters are paramount. I’m in a Christianity Explored course right now, which comes out of England, a way to have a relationship approach to evangelism. But then, that is EXACTLY what you have just described.
    Thank you.

    • My friend Val is the first-born daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Norris Vest. She tells me he is 93 now and his mind is still sharp. I wonder how many people he has touched for Christ over his long life. Thank God for soulwinning laymen like Dr. Vest.

  2. Jack (Nicky) Smith and I were born about 30 yards apart in a little town called Oak Grove, Louisiana. Nicky and I grew up together and have been close friends since we were old enough to play together. I left Oak Grove after high school graduation and went to California. I accepted Christ as my Savior in 1960 and on our next trip back home to see my mother, I visited Jack and Marian and shared with them how Jesus had changed my life and given me great joy and peace. What a joy it was to hear some time later that Jack had been led to the Lord by Pastor Joe. Every time we would make a trip back to Oak Grove we would visit Jack and Marian and rejoice in the new life in Christ that we all now had. To God be the glory…..Great things He has done and continues to do.

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