Here’s a beautiful reason our church leaders frequently lead members to invest in the lives of their GRACE friends. Once upon a time someone took an interest in their GRACE friend and it changed MY life, personally. That GRACE friend was my mother! On our recent trip to Tennessee, visiting my parents, I heard this story once again.
Betty Lil-Jean Newman is my mother. When she was a child in rural West Tennessee, a simple country house on a dirt road in Curve, TN was her home. At that time her family were not church-going people and were not Christians. They were sharecroppers. Life was hard. There were few churches there, then. A common occupation was moonshining which affected a lot of people through 1940’s-style organized crime. But my mom’s life was about to change.
A neighbor, Nell Yancey, was a godly lady who memorized scripture, taught Sunday School in her church, and took seriously reaching out to GRACE friends. One day, on that dirt road, that lady took the time to stop and have a conversation with a pre-teen, young girl. She told her about Jesus. She invited her to church. God had already been putting that desire in my mom’s heart so she went. It was really simple the way it all worked. God did His work. Nell took time to talk. And now look what has happened.
My mom went to that church and heard a country preacher faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Very soon she began believing that gospel message and has continued in it to this day as a grandmother in her eighties. That was Woodville Baptist Church just up the road from Curve, TN. In the photo above you can see the amazing story of God’s grace working itself out in some rich history.
Woodville Baptist Church was planted in 1827 – THAT WAS BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR! That was only a few years after the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence! My mom came to faith in Jesus, there, in the mid 1940’s. As a result, she married a Christian young man, Wilson Newman, and together they gave birth to a son who would come to faith in Jesus in the 1970’s – me. The gospel would so shape my life that I would later marry a Christian young lady, Jenifer Vliet. Together we had a baby girl, Julia (Jujie). She is now growing up in a home and church where she is being discipled in the gospel day by day and desires to live her life serving Jesus in any way possible.
These three generations of gospel transformation were made possible by Nell Yancey faithfully showing God’s love to a GRACE friend. When we look at history like this it makes us all want to get up and go right away and make that same investment in the lives of our own friends. So, with God’s help, let’s do that and watch God literally shape history with the gospel.
Remember how to be a GRACE friend…
G – go spend time with them.
R – respond to the needs in their life.
A – accept them into your home and friendships.
C – care enough to explain the gospel to them.
E – encourage them to trust Christ.
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”