Summer 1985 – I couldn’t get enough of serving God in the context of the local church. After God turned my heart toward Grace Baptist Church, I joined, got baptized, began showing up for everything, worked in AWANA ministry, and looked for more to do.
During that first summer, the Lord began to burden me about a teaching ministry. I didn’t know Christian protocol and didn’t think I should ask anyone since I was the new kid on the block. (Read about the Fear of Man) And I was the most immature Christian in the building. Many of those folks had been serving the Lord longer than I had been living. Even the ones my age knew the Lord for twelve, fifteen, or more years. I was the resident novice.
I came for visitation as well as shoveling dirt at the new Fellowship Hall that we were building. I was available, bring it on. And I wanted to teach too. Why not? I had to do more for the Lord. It was like something had possessed me. I didn’t know about qualifications, abilities, gift-mixes, or even if there was an available slot for a rookie like me. No matter; here am I, send me!
If You’re Unsure, Wait and Pray
Since I was uninformed about protocol regarding how they set-up their teachers for the upcoming fall classes, I decided I wouldn’t say anything to anyone. I would pray, and if God wanted me to help in the Sunday school classes, He would make that known to the leadership of the church.
It probably wasn’t two or three weeks after that when Gerald, the pastor, asked if I could meet him for lunch. We were at a Burger King on Highway 74, the main drag in Monroe, North Carolina. We ate, talked about various things, and then out of nowhere, he asked if I wanted to teach during the coming Sunday school year. I could have fallen out of my chair. I was simultaneously terrified and exhilarated.
I wanted to, but I was afraid. I was also fearful because this was the first thing I remember where God seemed to be actively working in my life. I didn’t tell a soul, and now I was being asked. It was surreal and exciting.
I said, “Yes,” and off I went. I served in an assistant role that year, and my first lesson was the first chapter of Luke. I’ll never forget it. It took me the entire week to prepare for that lesson. I didn’t know much of anything about my Bible. And I knew less of Luke and had no training in teaching.
I’ll never forget some of the things I learned from that lesson. I have taught thousands of times since. It’s harder to remember those lessons, but I remember that one. It was the first; it was fun, and God was kind.
That opportunity set a trajectory for my life. God put something in my heart. My life was about to change forever, although I had no idea how tragic it would be.