Almost Persuaded: Most of us are familiar with the story in Acts 26 where Paul is giving his testimony and urging those listening to him to get saved. King Agrippa makes that fateful statement, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Sometimes I feel people are saying that to me while out soul winning. I was soul winning while preaching at a conference. I thought for sure the young man I was witnessing to would get saved, but at the last minute, he refused to make that commitment. This happened again when I was soul winning up in Iowa City while visiting my Sunday school class. This man almost got saved; in fact, he stopped in the middle of the prayer for salvation. How that breaks my heart—so close, yet so far!
However, those of us who have served the Lord for years know that the Word of God continues to work in the hearts of people after we leave. A week after the second situation above, I received a text from one of our bus captains rejoicing about a man he just led to Christ. I looked at the picture and realized it was the same man I had witnessed to the previous week. God’s Word never fails! Amen! I praise the Lord that I had the privilege of leading one of my neighbors to Christ while he and I were both out working in our yards.
The Foolishness of Preaching: While preaching in many churches around the country, an evangelist often does not know the long-lasting results of his preaching. Recently, Linda and I were invited out to eat with a couple we have known for about 25 years. During those years, we have never had the chance just to visit with them one on one. In the course of our conversation, I asked Ken how they ended up in a fundamental Baptist church. He told me a story of how he and his wife realized they were not being fulfilled at the church they were attending, so they decided they would start looking at three different Baptist churches located in their area. The first church Ken visited happened to be a church that was without a pastor, and I was filling the pulpit. Upon getting back to his house, he informed his wife they needed to look no further for a church. God used old-fashioned preaching (they would visit the church every other week, which would be the weeks I was preaching) to help them make a life-changing decision. Praise the Lord for the power of His Word!
Meetings: Thank you for praying for us. The July 4th patriotic service in Nebraska went well. Pastor Reeves and his church treated us royally. We were thankful we had a chance to see a great fireworks display, something we had not seen in a long time. The Bible Baptist Church in Dubuque had me, along with Missionary Mark Holmes, preach their Missions Conference. I know many of the people of that church, so it is always a blessing to preach there. Then Linda and I had an unexpected blessing come our way. At the last minute, all of my siblings decided to meet in Virginia so we could have a family reunion. It was so special to me because I was able to see one of my brothers whom I had not seen in 20 years. It was a short trip, but it was wonderful reminiscing and catching up about their families. This year, Missions University, hosted by FBMI, the mission board I work with, had over 100 persons (when you count the children) attend. It was a week with so much practical teaching on how best to fulfill the Great Commission through the multiplication of churches. I believe it was the best conference I have ever had the honor of teaching in. I also had the opportunity to fill the pulpit for a couple of pastor friends of mine.
African Connection: We continue to see people getting saved while visiting those who come to our African Connection Sunday School Class. Some are becoming very faithful, and they are growing in the Lord. One in particular, Paul, is making many good decisions regarding his employment so he can remain faithful to church and soul winning. We praise the Lord for Paul, who is my interpreter.
Upcoming: Please pray for the next two months. By the time you receive this letter, we will have finished our Missions Conference. Pray that God increases our giving and that some will surrender to the mission field. At the beginning of September, I travel to Argentina to teach in a Bible college and preach in many churches started by graduates of that college. I then have some meetings here in the States when I get back. Finally, at the end of October, I plan to fly to Nigeria for two weeks. I covet your prayers for these trips and meetings.
Missionary Evangelist James Belisle