In 1956, I became the pastor of the Silent Run Baptist Church in Hopkins County, Kentucky. I was a student at Bethel College in Hopkinsville, and my wife and I were the youngest couple in the church. I knew practically nothing about pastoring a church, but I knew that God had called me to preach.
In one of my first meetings with the deacons, they informed me that the church had two revivals each year—a one-week meeting in the spring and a two-week revival meeting in the fall. The choice of evangelist would be my responsibility. I did not know many preachers but began to pray about who I should invite. A young pastor, in my home church, Brother Brown, had become a friend to me. Thus, I invited him to preach the spring meeting and he accepted the invitation.
We had a very good crowd on Monday night and a good beginning. After the service, Brother Brown offered to come down early on Tuesday afternoon and go visiting with me. (This will be hard for most of you reading this to believe, but at that time in my life I had never heard the term “soulwinning.” I visited a lot, but the only place I had ever seen anyone saved was at the church.) We would make two or three visits and invite people to come to the revival. I was very comfortable with inviting people to services.
When we knocked on the door of one of the members of the church, I only intended to invite the member’s unsaved husband, Ruby Jackson, to the revival. After a greeting and a few comments Brother Brown said, “Ruby, if you should die today are you sure you would go to Heaven?” Ruby was sure that he would not. Brother Brown then asked if he would like to know that he was going to Heaven and Ruby replied that he would like to know.
At this point I was thinking, “He is going to ask him to come to church tonight so he can hear how to be saved.” But to my surprise, Brother Brown said, “Let me show you from my Bible how you can be sure that you are saved and going to Heaven.”
Ruby invited us into his house, and Brother Brown went through the “Romans Road.” After every verse, I was sure that Brother Brown would tell Ruby that he needed to come to church to get saved. I was surprised once again when Brother Brown invited Ruby to pray and ask Jesus to be his Saviour, and he got saved!
As a young pastor I was thinking, “How am I going to tell my people about this? They have never seen this before.” After Ruby prayed and asked Jesus to save him, his son Bobby said he needed to be saved. Again, Brother Brown went through the plan of salvation and Bobby trusted the Lord.
Before the meeting on Tuesday night, we had prayer with a group of men in the church. I related to them what we had experienced that day, and one of the men who worked in the coal mine with Ruby was astounded. He said, “I can’t believe Ruby Jackson got saved, he curses every other word.” Praise God Ruby had just lost half of his vocabulary! That night both Ruby and his son Bobby came forward and made their public profession.
Several weeks after the revival, I was in my study during my prayer time when God laid a lady on my heart. Charlene Edmondson had been coming to Sunday school on a regular basis, but never stayed for the preaching service. All of the ladies in the Sunday school class, including my wife, were burdened for her salvation. As I began to think and pray for her, God began to speak to me about going to her home to speak to her about the Lord. Brother Brown did not give me the verses that he used in winning Ruby to the Lord, but I remembered them and went over each step.
I practiced those steps and got in my car and drove to the Edmondson’s home. As I approached the house, the devil gave me hundreds of reasons why I should not stop. But I did stop at the house, got out of the car, and knocked on the door. When Charlene came to the door she was weeping. When she saw me she said, “Brother Don, am I happy to see you. I have just listened to a sermon on the radio and I need to get saved.” Then she and her teenage daughter came out and sat on a swing on the front porch. I sat in a chair in front of the two of them and told them how they could be saved. Both of them bowed their heads and asked Jesus to be their Saviour. These first two Christians I lead to the Lord outside of a church service were baptized the following Sunday.
In 2002, I preached in the Silent Run Baptist Church. Charlene had already gone home to be with the Lord, but I drove by the Edmondson home and remembered that day she was saved. I sat in my car in front of the home and thanked God for allowing me to win this precious soul.
I have had the privilege of leading hundreds of people to the Lord in many countries around the world, but I shall never forget that first experience. Even though my friend, Brother Brown did not say, “Here is the way to win a soul to the Lord,” he taught me by his example. I have often thought soulwinning is easier caught than taught. The best way to teach others to win souls is to take them with you and let them see someone getting saved.