The story is told by a preacher of going fishing as a young boy. He would attach a line to his cane pole, put a worm on the hook, put a bobber on the line and drop it in the water. One day he discovered a man who had stretched a line across the river with many hooks attached to it. The man explained that he was engaging in “trot-line fishing.” He went on to say that the more hooks you put in the water, the more fish you were likely to catch. The boy never fished with a single hook again. The lesson in the story is this: the more ministry hooks we put in the water of life, the more fish we are likely to catch.
The Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Different ministries are able to reach different people, and God loves all people. In the decades at our church, God has done miracles in the lives of people through the different ministries of our church. We can’t tell every story of God’s grace in people’s lives, but what follows is just a glimpse of what He has done.
Approximately twenty-five years ago, one of my deacons and I were knocking on doors in preparation for the final day of our spring Sunday school campaign. One lady said, “Well, we have been attending a church some distance away and had thought about trying a church closer. Maybe we will come.” That Sunday, Pauline and her husband Randy came to church, and the next Saturday, I had the privilege of leading Randy to Christ. My wife and I met with Randy and Pauline (who had already been saved) for many weeks to help disciple them.
Randy has now been a bus captain for over twenty years. His wife goes soulwinning weekly. All three of his children graduated from our Christian school. Two of them are faithful and active with their spouses in our church and the third serves God with her husband, who is a Christian school teacher in Oregon. God has blessed the ministry exemplified by Paul, who taught “publickly, and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).
The Bus Ministry
Karen Weaver was visiting on her bus route one day when she met a young boy named Marvin Corr. He promised to ride the bus the following day but did not come. The next Saturday she visited again, and again he promised but did not attend. Karen visited Marvin almost every Saturday for eighteen months before he ever rode the bus. But one day he came. Another day he got saved, and one day he got serious. After going off to Bible college, Marvin Corr said to me, “Preacher, I believe God wants me to start a church in Saginaw.”
Marvin Corr started the Bible Baptist Church of Saginaw in our building! This isn’t the usual way to plant a church, but it was a first step. (It does happen, but usually the pastor is not aware of what is going on.) Later, we rented a building for him and eventually purchased a former fast-food restaurant which became the permanent home of Bible Baptist Church.
About the same time that Marvin was becoming faithful, Sherry Robinson led James and Jean Moore to Christ while out bus calling. James was a bus driver at First Baptist Church of Bridgeport for over thirty years. Their son, Shawn Moore, became the first assistant pastor at Bible Baptist Church and then head pastor when Brother Corr moved to Tennessee.
The Spanish Ministry
Robert Ruiz fathered his first child when he was fifteen. He and his girlfriend had two or three children when they got saved through the Spanish ministry of our church. It wasn’t long before God convicted them about living together without being married. He and Regina were married in the service of our Spanish church. Shortly after that, Robert led his half-brother, Marcus Torrez, to Christ. Marcus came faithfully and grew rapidly. One day, after I had taught a class in our Bible Institute, he said, “Preacher, who do you think I should marry?” I suggested he consider Daniella Coronada. Daniella had been brought to our church by her fiancé. She trusted Christ and became faithful. When the fiancé dropped out of church and they broke up, she continued to live for God.
Marcus did, indeed, date Daniella. Early in their dating relationship they discovered that the first time they had seen each other, they were in opposite cars that were exchanging gunfire. Though each had a child, neither of them had been previously married. Today, the son who was born to them after their marriage is in the second grade at our Christian school and the daughters they each had before their marriage are in Christian college. Marcus is one of our deacons, and he and his wife are faithful soulwinners.
Rick Roenicke was twelve years old when he began attending our children’s ministry. When I came to First Baptist of Bridgeport, the Awana program was the only thing doing well. It met on Monday night and was considerably larger than the morning church attendance. (We now conduct a similar ministry of our own creation on Wednesday nights called Servants of the Saviour.) Later on, Rick’s father got saved. (His mother was already saved). I had the privilege of leading his mother’s sister, Lyd and her husband, Dick Allen, to Christ and about that time one of our soulwinners led another sister and her husband, Teresa and Walt Midcalf, to Christ. All six adults and several of their children were baptized on the same Sunday. It was the largest baptism, up to that point, in the history of our church. Five of their children have gone off into full-time Christian service.
Scotty Roberson’s parents were drug addicts and bar tenders. Twice they sold Scotty to someone in order to get money for drugs. He was somehow reunited with them and was, for a time, a good student, but he began using drugs in order to be accepted by his parents.
Eventually, Scotty went to jail. When he was released, he went home to find both of his parents dead. That day he laid down between their dead bodies and wept, and then went on the biggest binge of his life.
Scotty was passed from one government agency to another until he was recommended to our transitional home, “Transformed Through God’s Word.” Scotty got saved and became one of the best students to ever come through our transitional program. He has been clean for over a year, has started a bus route in our church, and is studying online to prepare for the ministry.
Many years ago, a man stood up to preach at a meeting in the town where he had lived as an unsaved man. On the pulpit, someone had placed a note addressed to him. The note consisted of a list of awful sins along with the accusation that he had committed each of those sins in that very city. Rather than being flustered, as the anonymous author had no doubt intended, the preacher read the first sin out loud and said, “That is true.” He did so with the second, and the third, until he had read and admitted to every sin on the list. He then quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Jesus transforms people. The stories told here are representative of what He is doing through thousands of Bible-believing Baptist churches across the country. There are still plenty more people who need the power of Christ to save them and forever change their life’s course. Keep your hooks in the water.