Richard Heacock walked in with a large print bible under his hand some twenty minutes before the opening night of Unlocking Bible Prophecy, an evangelistic seminar taking place in the Brandon Seventh-day Adventist church.
Richard had been Facebooking when an ad for an evangelistic series happening in Plant City caught his eye. Clicking on the link led him to discover there were multiple sites for the Unlocking Bible Prophecy seminar across the Tampa metro area. Scrolling the site listings, he noticed there would be one in Brandon too. This was good. Though he worked night-shifts at the Wal-Mart in Plant City, he would rather not have to commute the 25 minutes to Plant City on his off-nights. Richard had not attended this church or any Adventist church in a long time, but he felt ready to return. His mind was made up.
After finishing up business at the registration table with Evelyn and Darrell Fox, he and his Bible and his registration card walked over to the far side of the church. The church was set up with round tables and although some table hosts were already there, he went to one of the tables without a table host. The eventual table host would come—a Caribbean-American, sister Jacqui—and they would get along well. She had a bright pleasant smile and conversed enough but not too much.
That opening night was a good one. Some Mexican kid spoke about the theme of Revelation—emphasizing Jesus over and over again. The church was full but not overtly so. And when the talk was over, there were refreshments handed out; it was early in the month-long series and the sisters were still with energy so the refreshments included these little sandwiches that looked good and tasted okay. Everyone was invited to have table talk. Not a lot of people sat with sister Jaqui and Richard, so the pastor, Ben Shurtliff, joined them. There was the usual meet-and-greet talk; the conversation could have stayed casual but Richard hadn't driven to the church for casual reasons.
"I want to be re-baptized. I have been away from the church and from God for a long time now, but I am ready to come back. I would like to be re-baptized."
I think a part of me expected my first baptism to come with a grand story; something like, I labored and fought and you know I was in the home pulling for decisions and then we prayed and they accepted Christ and we wept and it was so epic. But the events that led up to my opportunity to baptize Richard Heacock were—quite honestly—very normal.
A man who had strayed decided to come back and he followed through and missed no meetings and by the end of the series, he was bringing potluck dishes.
All of the heavy lifting in Richard's heart happened without me or Link around.
And yet. Isn't that the beauty of this story?
Moreover, isn't that the truth of evangelistic preaching?
No matter how much we strive, we are mere vessels—channels for the real power: the conviction of the Word of God, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and the attractiveness of Jesus the Christ. And I wonder if perhaps the lesson to be had is that when all parties play their roles humbly and obediently, accepting salvation—as it turns out—is quite easy.
It turns out that accepting salvation can be as easy as accepting a Facebook invite and actually showing up.