“If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask Him and He would give you living water” (John 4:10).
Rhonda Harrington Kelley is a preacher’s wife.
But not like any other preacher’s wife you know.
Now, Rhonda Kelley herself is quite an individual. She has a Doctorate from the University of New Orleans and is a professor in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. And she is married to the President of that preacher-training institution, Dr. Chuck Kelley. Furthermore, she is the daughter of another preacher, Bob Harrington, known for decades as “the chaplain of Bourbon Street.” (Her mother is the wonderful Joyce Harrington, a fixture in New Orleans’ First Baptist Church and easily one of the most wonderful people I know.) Rhonda Kelley is the author of many books, including serving as co-editor with Dorothy Kelley on “The Study Bible for Women,” among other books.
But don’t let all that fool you. She’s funny, she’s happy, and she’s loving. You would adore her. I promise.
Okay. I’m leading up to something here.
In the current issue of SBC LIFE (“Winter 2014/2015”), on the back page, Rhonda talks about witnessing. Her stories are the kind you want to remember for future re-tellling.
The Kelleys were celebrating an anniversary with dinner in a fancy New Orleans restaurant. When Dr. Chuck told the maitre d’ that the reservation was for two in the name of Kelley, the man said, “How did a man named Kelley get a Jewish nose like yours!?”
Dr. Kelley didn’t bat an eye. He said, “I have a Jewish Savior named Jesus Christ who loves me so much He gave me His nose!”
As soon as they could, Dr. Rhonda asked her husband how he came up with such a great reply on the spot like that. He said, “I took Nose Evangelism in seminary!”
He added, “I laid my nose on the altar and said I’d blow it for Him!”
After she stopped laughing, Rhonda asked for a serious answer. His reply is as good as it gets: “If Jesus is on our minds, He will find a way out of our mouths.”
The Lord’s witness to the “woman at the well” (which is how she is forever known to God’s people) is a case in point. (See John chapter 4.) He asked her for a drink of water and she responded that “this is out of the ordinary, Him being a Jew and all.”
With no further preparation, our Lord said, “If you knew the gift of God and knew whom you were talking to, you would ask and I would give you everlasting water.”
How’s that for moving the conversation along to spiritual matters. The Lord’s answer was encouraging, affirming, and intriguing. No way could she walk away without following up on that!
Always on my mind.
Always “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Those who are prepared to witness and sensitive to opportunities the Lord opens up will find occasions on every hand to share Christ. Likewise, those of us who are preoccupied with mundane matters will walk right past them without a clue that a divine appointment was just at our elbow.
I’ve told how my friend Bryan, ever the faithful witness, led a mother and daughter to the Lord on the plane, only to find out they were being reunited with the estranged husband and father who also needed the Lord. The woman asked Bryan if, “when we get to Salt Lake,” he would be willing to talk to her man. In the terminal building, Bryan went looking for them and spotted the little cluster of people hugging one another. Two men were standing there.
The woman introduced Bryan to her husband and then to the other gentleman, a furloughing missionary from the other side of the world, who just a few minutes earlier had sat down beside the husband and led him to faith in Jesus Christ.
They tend to look a lot like ordinary people involved in typical situations until we take that Spirit-prompted step of obedience and speak up.
Rhonda Kelley keeps with her “Thank You” notes which express gratitude and contain a short testimony with a plan of salvation. At the airport, she handed one to a skycap with a tip. The man called back.
“Hey, lady! Are you a Christian?”
Rhonda turned, smiled, and nodded.
The man said, “That’s great. I am too, but my buddy here is not. I’ve been witnessing to him, so today’s your turn!”
Because she was ready, God used her to make a difference in that man’s life.
Rhonda ends her article challenging readers to “lay your nose on the altar.” She promises that if we keep Jesus on our minds, He will come out of our mouths!
(Dr. Rhonda Kelley’s latest book, co-authored with Monica Rose Brennan, is “Talking is a Gift: Communication Skills for Women,” published by B&H Publishing Group.)