I was very blessed to co-lead Every Believer a Witness with Pastor Mike Hamlet at First Baptist North Spartanburg, SC, for 7 Sunday mornings from June 2 through July 16. I am so thankful to Mike for having such a heart to equip his people to actively share the Good News of Jesus. Above that, the outstanding camera and technical people at First North captured all teaching on video that will enable us to train many more pastors, and train them much more effectively.
During the 7 weeks, numerous people shared the Gospel for the first time ever, and several, for the first time, led someone to trust Christ as their Savior.
However, the most powerful report from these 7 weeks involved a tragedy and a glorious praise. On Tuesday, July 11th, one of the godly deacons at FBNS, Jeff Pierce, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. He greatly loved and served his Lord and others. Jeff served in youth ministry, Sunday school, and FCA. He was always caring and loving, willing to jump in and help people in any way he could, no matter what the need.
Jeff’s death obviously struck his wife, Renee, and his sons Alex and Chandler very hard. In addition it was a tremendous shock to many people at FBNS and the community who knew and loved and admired Jeff.
When Pastor Mike Hamlet went to the Pierce home to discuss the memorial service with Renee and the family, he was given Jeff’s Bible to look through. In Jeff’s Bible, Mike found many notes written, many sermon outlines, as well as the six weekly session notes Jeff had filled out in Every Believer a Witness. Included in these was Jeff’s handwritten testimony. Mike decided that he would let Jeff “preach his own funeral.”
The service to celebrate Jeff’s life was on Friday, July 14th. During the service Mike shared many of the notes in Jeff’s Bible that showed the growth that Jeff had experienced as a believer. In addition, Mike read Jeff’s own hand written testimony (with the Gospel in it) from his Every Believer a Witness notes, including when he had trusted Christ Jesus as his Savior while in college. Mike asked people to speak to him or the family after the service if they wanted to trust Jeff’s Savior as their Savior. Several did.
The most powerful one was when Jeff’s son, Alex, talked with Jeff’s brother, Steve, and Steve trusted Jesus as his Savior. This was a wonderful answer to prayer as Jeff had prayed fervently for his brother’s salvation, and had indicated during the 7 weeks that he wanted to share with Steve. Jeff did not get to share it while he was alive, but he did get to share it after he died.
I asked Renee if she was okay with me publicly sharing this. She was very willing as she and Alex and Chandler want to see God continue to use Jeff’s life story.
I pray this will be an exhortation to each of us to so live for Jesus that we can “preach our own funerals.” And please, please, remember that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, and the most natural and biblical way to deliver the gospel is using your personal testimony.