Gloria Curtis started this amazing ball rolling when she gave her friend, Kim Curtis, some sturdy drapery scraps several years ago. This past October Kim put these scraps to good use making fabric pumpkins for her family. Realizing that she had plenty of remaining fabric, she felt prompted to make fabric pumpkins for the staff of the church and school where her husband pastors in Indianapolis. She was in the thick of wedding plans for her daughter and argued within herself, “I don’t have time to make 22 of these pumpkins for the staff!” But God seemed to be guiding her to make time for this gift, which she did. Kim tells her story:
I set The pumpkins out on a table where the teachers could see them and pick out which one they wanted. I put a little card with each one that said, “If you were a pumpkin, then we’d pick you. Thank you for your faithful service to God! We love and appreciate you! ~ Pastor & Kim” The teachers seemed to really appreciate them, and I was glad I had followed through. It was time to get back to wedding planning!
One of the school moms loved the pumpkins and was wishing for one. She ended up coming in the school office the one time each week when Kim is in the office. She and Kim had a wonderful conversation that got down to the soul level. This ended by Kim inviting her to church and helping her realize it wasn’t necessary to have her act together before coming to church.
“We all have issues. That’s what church is for – to help and encourage each other!”
She did visit church and found not only a wonderful welcome, but one of the pastors suggested that she do a four-week Bible study. She jumped at the suggestion and asked to do it with Kim. Completing the study took 6 weeks due to all sorts of issues including a dead battery and Thanksgiving holiday.
“The second lesson on judgment seemed to really be a sobering thought to Danielle. She readily admitted that she was a sinner and would go to hell if she died. Our final week was on Wednesday, December 12th. We got to the end of the 4th lesson and I noticed that she had already written quite a bit in the blanks with the prayer to God. I asked her about it and she said she had prayed on Monday morning! The lesson mentions that if you pray this, you should let your Bible study leader know. I asked her why she hadn’t called or texted me, and she said, “It was five o’clock in the morning!” She couldn’t sleep because and decided finish up the Bible study so she would be ready for Wednesday. It was great to see how God drew her to himself through all of this. One of our ladies has already had her over for a couple of play dates with their children and plans to disciple her starting in the new year.”
God sometimes uses a team and some pretty interesting circumstances to accomplish His purposes. Gloria donated fabric. Kim made fabric pumpkins. John, one of the pastors, encouraged Danielle to do the Bible study with Kim, and John’s wife, Abbie, is discipling her. What a powerful reminder to be part of God’s plan to reach people, whether it be listening to His prompting to donate fabric to a pastor’s wife or actually doing a Bible study with an unbeliever. GOD WANTS TO USE YOU!
We are thrilled with Pastor Dennis Tapp’s dwindling Find Five list! At Exchange seminars we challenge believers to identify 5 people in their sphere of influence who need the gospel, pray for those people, and ask God to open doors. Only two weeks after we left First Baptist in Woodville, Wisconsin, God used Dennis to reach three souls.
The first was a guest at church who has visited a few times and expressed her need for salvation by a raised hand at the invitation. Pastor and Deborah invited her to do The Exchange four-lesson Bible study. She readily agreed and placed her faith in Jesus Christ. She texted this powerful verse to Deborah, reminding us of the freedom found in a relationship with God.
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not
The second two souls were saved during marriage counseling with Pastor Tapp. They had visited First Baptist during the previous holiday season, so when they decided to get married they asked Pastor Tapp to officiate their wedding. What better way to begin a marriage than by accepting Christ as Savior?
We are reminded that not everyone who steps foot in church has a real relationship with God. May we welcome guests into our churches and be sensitive to their spiritual needs.
Often, due to our busy American lifestyle, we feel evangelism efforts compete with time with our families. We love the example set by the Lobley family in Windham, New Hampshire. They make evangelism a family affair. It’s “who they are!”
This latest story comes from the Lobley family, trained in 2013 at Heritage Baptist Church in Windham, NH. Previous to Exchange training, David described himself as weak in the area of evangelism. But since that time, he and his family have led many to Christ. Now David is leading the evangelism outreach at his church. In October we returned for our third training at Heritage, and while there we enjoyed a homemade pizza dinner with the Lobley family. The treat of the evening was hearing David’s daughter, Hannah, tell how she recently led the aid who was helping her elderly grandfather to Christ. This young man listened with rapt attention and eventually prayed to trust Christ. Hannah immediately asked him if he would do the Bible study with her Dad just to make sure he understood salvation and to help him become grounded in his new faith.
Perhaps one of the keys to passing our love for Christ on to the next generation is involving our families in our evangelistic efforts!
It was with a little fear and trepidation that Beverly agreed to lead a Starting Point class at her church. Kirstin, a 47 year-old woman who had learned about Beverly’s church through a friend’s Facebook posts, joined the class. Beverly left every week “flying higher than a kite.” She knew God was at work in Kirstin’s life, but was not sure she had crossed the line of faith. Beverly shared this chart with Kirstin, asking her to identify where she was spiritually.
1 – Not a follower of Jesus
2 – Considering
3 – Recently made the decision to follow Jesus
4 – Made the decision sometime in the past
Kirstin honestly responded, “I’m a 2.5.” Then she quietly whispered, “Maybe a 3.” Knowing there was a life and death difference between 2 and 3, Beverly immediately thought of The Exchange: An Inquirer’s Bible Study. She had joined Exchange training years prior to this at First Baptist of Elyria, OH.
Kirstin had many lightbulb moments throughout the study. Beverly writes, “Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 64:6 especially hit her. She looked at me and said, “Well, you have just taken away anything I could have been standing on!”
Kirstin brought her 6-page typed story to the final Bible study, telling what was happening in her life that sent her looking for something and eventually finding Beverly’s church. She even told how she came to Christ. It was during the writing of her story that Kirstin understood and accepted the gift, the exchange, Jesus’ record for hers.
Beverly writes, “You can see how wildly exciting this story is! I am in awe at the work of the Holy Spirit! Kirstin was totally prepped by the Spirit, drawn by Him, and brought to an understanding of the truth over a six-month period of time. And though I invited her to attend church services in addition to the Starting Point class, I did not have to tell her to start reading the Bible, I did not point her to baptism, I did not tell her to pray, I did not tell her to serve … The Holy Spirit has been working through what His Word and what she is hearing at church and the women’s study.”
“Just led a 78-year old MD to the Lord by using The Exchange.”
A member of Pastor Jim’s church had been seeing this family doctor for 30 years. He retired and now lives in a local nursing facility where Pastor Bickel began to visit him. Eventually they set up an Exchange Bible study. He trusted Christ and is now in discipleship.
Praise God for a compassionate pastor, willing to take time for someone who desperately needed the Lord. He wasn’t a member of Jim’s church, but he was important to Jim. May God open our eyes to the gospel opportunities around us!
It was Easter Sunday of 2016 and Pastor Ramler was doing what all believers should do – he engaged church guests in conversation! He asked a simple question which led to an amazing relationship, “How did you find our church?”
“We googled baptist churches nearby.” was Nicole’s response.
In the course of this conversation Taylor explained that they wanted to know God. Pastor Ramler seized this opportune moment to invite Taylor and Nicole to do a Bible study which would help them know God.
Their schedules were busy, and the only time they could get together was Sunday afternoon – sometimes a difficult time for pastors – but Pastor Kent and Joy were more than glad to make it work. Dinner and Bible study Sunday afternoon at the parsonage became a regular occurrence over the next few months. Taylor shared that The Exchange Bible study presented a wonderful platform to ask questions like, “How can you know for sure there really is a God?”
After lesson 3 Taylor was really close to trusting Christ, but Nicole still had some reservations. Between lessons 3 and 4, unbeknownst to each other, they both prayed privately and put their trust in Christ. During lesson 4 with Pastor Kent and Joy they shared that each of them had recently trusted Christ on their own. It was a time of great rejoicing. Since that time they’ve been baptized and faithfully attend People’s Baptist Church. Today they surprised us by treating us all to lunch as their way of saying thank you to the Ramler’s for mentoring them and to Jeff for writing The Exchange. Truly, this story made our day.
What reminder of the many guests who visit our churches looking for answers to the major questions of life. May we be like Pastor Ramler and seize these amazing opportunities.
Birthdays! What cause for celebration! But a spiritual birthday is even greater cause for celebration – the beginning of life that never ends. On May 31 at 11:00 a.m. Len was born again and Ron Perry, all of us at The Exchange along with a myriad of angels in heaven express our joy!
Is there any joy greater than leading a soul to find eternal peace with God? If you’ve never had this privilege, considering using The Exchange Bible study. This simple 4-lesson Bible study is an introduction to Who God is and how to have a relationship with Him. Len is one of many who have placed their faith in Jesus as a result of believers like Ron Perry in Folsom, CA who take the time to study God’s Word together with an unbeliever.
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