David T.

David T.

from TN
Story #708
Standing near my seat in the theater, hand raised high, I realized the day was ending in a way I could not have imagined just a few hours earlier.

That Saturday afternoon I had been sitting around the house, a bored teenager with nothing to do. The doorbell rang. I was first to the door to see Bruce Allen, pastor of a small Baptist church. Though our family had no church background, my sisters had attended a few services there.

Introducing himself, he said “I’m here to pick up your sisters. They’re coming with our youth group to see a film tonight.”

He must have seen the boredom in my eyes, because he quickly added, “would you like to come with us?” Then quickly added, “it’s free.”

I looked past him to his car, already crowded with people and made a quick decision. Go to a movie or stay home and be bored? Since there was no theater in our town, a free movie sounded pretty good. “Sure, I’ll come along.”

At that time in my life I had no idea there was a difference in Christian thought between movies and films. Nor did I realize we were going to see a Christian film with an evangelistic message. Skipping quickly ahead, the film we saw was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and entitled The Restless Ones. As I remember, the movie had a good story line, and it was free.

When the film was finished, a man came up on the platform of the movie theater. “Now,” he said. “Dr. Billy Graham will speak to us.”

Billy Graham? I had heard of him, but didn’t know much about him except that he was religious. He had a radio program, so I guessed I would recognize his voice. At any rate, it would be interesting to see him.

“Dr. Graham will not be with us in person.”

Okay, maybe were going to see another movie with this Billy Graham in it, I thought.

“Dr. Graham will not be here on film. We’ll hear from him through the wonder of audio recording.”

A tape recording, I thought. This stinks! Then Billy Graham began to speak and his voice filled the theater. I realize now how gifted he is. Then I just thought there was a connection between us and I wanted to hear what he had to say. In a very straightforward way, Doctor Graham presented the gospel of Jesus Christ as simply as possible

As I heard what the Bible said about my sins and the need of a Savior, I could only agree. As I heard how God had provided a Savior, I began to feel excited.

Not having a church background, I had never experienced an evangelistic invitation. As Dr. Graham finished speaking, the host came back in the platform and asked everybody in the theater to bow their head heads and close their eyes. Doing that seemed to be the most natural thing. The host reiterated Dr. Graham’s thrust that all people are sinners, that sinners cannot have a relationship with God, but that Jesus Christ died to take away the sins of those who believe in him so that they can have a relationship with God.

I was tracking. I was ready. Though only a teenager, I knew the truth of what I had just heard. I had been in the process of messing up my life. Now I was ready to hand it over to Jesus Christ.

The man continued, “if you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior, stand by your seat and raise your hand in the air.”

Without conscious effort I was immediately on my feet, eyes still closed, hand in the air. This was the best offer I had ever heard.

A few minutes later he told us to open our eyes. As I looked around me, my first thought was why is not every person in this theater standing up right now? How can anybody refuse an offer like this?

My second observation was to look and see my sisters Taffy and Roberta standing just a few seats away with smiles on their faces which must have mirrored my own.

There was more that evening, but it was anti-climactic. Follow-up, really, to what had already been accomplished. As I followed directions and moved from the balcony to the front of the theater to indicate my decision to follow Christ, I was paired with Mr. Louis Carroll, a local Christian volunteer who had come to help guide people like me to the decision I had just made.

Mr. Carroll talked with me for about 20 minutes, reviewing what I had heard and making sure I knew what I was doing. Then he gave me some steps to follow to continue my walk with Christ. A week or so later, Mr. Carol phoned to answer any more questions I might have and to offer some study material. The older I get, the more I appreciate his guidance in those early weeks of new life.

Of all in our family who are following Jesus Christ, my sisters and I, joined together in a very special way that night, seem to have the most consistent and obvious Christian life. From bickering siblings, we grew into trusted friends. Blessing upon blessing.

I often go back to that first thought after my decision to follow Christ, wondering why everybody had not made the same decision. I’ve since learned that many of the people there were already Christians. Some were there to support the event with their presence; some as counselors and ushers; some brought friends to hear the message. One, at least, was praying through the invitation that people would respond. Though it was some months before we met, that was the first night young Kathy H’s prayers directly influenced the life of me, the man who is now her grateful husband. As I said before, blessing upon blessing

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