God gave us a GREAT weekend—one of the greatest of my life! Here’s the story.
A few months ago, the Lord intersected Pastor Chappell’s path with NBA basketball player Michael Redd (shooting guard for Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Allstar, and Olympic gold medalist.) It was a “chance” meeting at an airport. Michael was sitting reading his Bible, and he and Pastor Chappell were able to share testimonies and strike up conversation about ministry. That led to an invitation for Michael to come and be a part of a student ministry outreach at LBC.
This Saturday was the culmination of many weeks of work and preparation by our youth team. They did a fantastic job! Larry Chappell led the effort, and our entire team labored so fervently for the Lord. We prayed, we invited, we planned, and we eagerly awaited seeing what the Lord had in all of this. The week before the rally, our Senior High teens went to every public school campus in the valley and boldly passed out gospel invitations. Their passion and courage was awesome!
Saturday morning, Lance, Larry, and I picked up Michael Redd and his kind friend, Michael Powell, and enjoyed breakfast together. It was like we had known each other for years. Michael and his friend are two of the most humble, sincere, and passionate Christian men I’ve ever met; and instantly they were an encouragement to our hearts. I was immediately struck by Michael’s genuine walk with God and authentic passion for souls. Over breakfast and throughout the day, he shared story after story of sharing Christ with NBA players, his personal walk with God, his love for his family, and his hunger for God’s Word. Sprinkled throughout were also some interesting NBA/Olympic stories and amazing accomplishments that God has allowed in his career.
Early in the conversation, Michael said, “I’m the least likely candidate! God just raised me up and helped me play better so that I might lift up Christ.” He is genuinely humble about all that God has done. Pretty amazing! In the midst of a personally challenging week for our family, God allowed us to be greatly encouraged by this good man.
At about 10:30am we went over the service cue card and had a word of prayer with Pastor Chappell. The rally began at 11am on Saturday morning, and the spirit of the teens was awesome! The lower floor of our auditorium was filled with 1,400 teenagers—students from our valley and surrounding areas. I would estimate that at least 400 of these were first time guests. It was a joy to see parents bringing their teens, coaches bringing their teams, and LBC teens bringing their friends.
For the first few minutes we had some fun, including a shooting contest, a highlight video of Michael playing ball, some basketball advice from Michael, and then an NBA Q&A featuring questions that the teens submitted. After a special song, Michael shared his testimony and love for Christ. He challenged the kids to come to Christ, to build their lives around the presence of God, and to live holy lives. Their hearts were fixed on his every word.
After the testimony, Evangelist Bryan Samms stood and preached a fantastic gospel message, and then conducted the invitation. Approximately 150 people (teens and adults) walked the aisle, having responded to the call to trust Christ as Saviour. It was just awesome to see God work in hearts. It was an overwhelming joy to see God answer the prayers and bless the labor of our students! Later that evening, we enjoyed great fellowship with our student ministry staff and Michael Redd at Pastor Chappell’s home. The day came to a close with a lot of anticipation for what God would do on Sunday.
On Sunday, God once again blessed Michael’s testimony and the clear gospel preaching of Pastor Chappell as dozens walked the aisle for salvation in the morning services. The day ended with Pastor Chappell preaching one of the best Sunday evening messages I’ve ever heard—challenging the church family to disciple, encourage, and love the new Christians that God brought to Himself this weekend. It was awesome!
At the close of the service, Pastor shared my health diagnosis with the church family—the only “heavy” moment of the weekend. (Bummer) Then, Dana and I were greeted and encouraged by hundreds of our church family members—those we love to serve and serve God with! Our prayers is that we encouraged them as well. We love our church family and do not want our trial to be a burden to them.
As I write this post, my heart is overwhelmed and amazed. God is too good! In the midst of a very strange moment in my life, God just reached out of Heaven and poured out two of the greatest days of ministry and family memories that I have ever experienced! I will never forget this weekend—what God did, how He encouraged our hearts, and how He changed so many lives for all eternity.
I will never forget our students and their courage to reach the lost. I will never forget how our student ministry team stepped up and got the job done administratively! I will never forget Pastor Chappell’s gracious kindness to let me be a part of such ministry opportunities! I will never forget Michael Redd and Michael Powell and their godly encouragement in my heart and to my sons. I will never forget seeing hundreds of people come to Christ in a single weekend. I will never forget God’s overwhelming goodness in the midst of personal uncertainty!
There is nothing in life as wonderful as serving God! To God be the glory for His marvelous works at Lancaster Baptist Church this weekend! Thank you for praying that God would bless our open house weekend.