As a teenager in Jackson, MS, I became very concerned (“convicted”) regarding my personal sin. I was attracted to a movement called “Youth for Christ.” Evangelist Billy Graham was a national founder of the movement. In Jackson, we met every Saturday night for “youth rallies.”
I had watched the lives of several other high school young people who were committed to Christ – I still remember them and their names – and hungered for the joy and the quality of life each one of them had.
This was a work of God in my life.
Following one of the Saturday night meetings, I wandered to the front of the meeting place, a large room in the mezzanine level of the King Edwards Hotel in Jackson. We were enriched to have different preachers present the Gospel.
After the rally, that evening, the night’s speaker, Preacher Barney Walker, Jr., looked at me with compassion and made a direct appeal to me: “Fella,” he said, “Why don’t you settle it tonight?” At the front of the meeting room … nearly everyone had departed … I approached Jackson’s YFC Director Harold Jordan. At his direction, we both went to our knees. He then read selected scriptures to me.
I still remember those Scriptures. “But as many, as received Him [Jesus], to them he gave the power to become sons of God … who were born … of God!” (John 1: 12 & 13)
And then Harold pointed to a promise of Jesus Himself: “… him who comes to me, I will in no wise cast out!” (John 6:37)
In prayer, that night, I “came” in faith to Jesus in repentance, accepted His suffering on the cross for my sins, confessing that He had risen to life following His death. I arose from bended knee, with a big sense of relief knowing that I was forgiven. The joy that was now mine was exhilarating!
A relationship with God is by faith … and not necessarily by “feelings.” But that night, in my case, I was blessed by wonderful “feelings,” but not everyone who receives Jesus has those feelings.
Reassurance based on the Word of God, the Bible, is what I stand upon, and not necessarily feelings. Promises like: “Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
In a brief prayer of commitment, I claimed these Bible promises. That very evening I was “saved” (that’s what the Bible calls it, as in Acts 16:31). Based upon those promises, I received Eternal Life. Indeed, Jesus has kept his promise to me all these years!
In April of 2012, my wife Joan and I went to my Central High School reunion in Jackson, MS. While there, once again I drove her around to the places vivid in my mind from boyhood days: my home on Road of Remembrance in West Jackson; schools I had attended (Whitfield Elementary, Enochs Jr. High, Central High School and Mississippi College in Clinton (next town west of Jackson). Many times, I drove by the Reformed Seminary on Clinton Blvd where my delightful “brother” Knox Chamblin was to teach.
I began Mississippi College as my Pastor’s grandfather had done (“Preacher” John Lee Hughes) in about 1903. On what is now a part of the Mississippi College campus is the site where my mother was born while my grandfather was a student. Three miles east was the Lakewood Memorial Cemetery where my parents and other relatives are buried.
Through the years the King Edward Hotel on Capitol Street — the site of my conversion to Christ — had been abandoned, was in disrepair, and likely targeted to be torn down. But I was elated as Joan and I drove by the Hotel this time, during the high school reunion … and went inside … to see that it had been beautifully restored as a Hilton Garden Hotel! In going up to the restored meeting room on the mezzanine floor – the site of our “Youth for Christ” meetings – I recalled the spot where I had gotten on my knees and asked the Son of God to come into my life … which He did! Joan took pictures.
Amid all of this, in the “back” of my mind, was the awareness of an impacting family story of “Lost” Billy Pigford. As a “wee lad” in the 1700’s, little Billy was found wandering on the Carolina coastline, the sole survivor of a shipwreck. He wasn’t even sure of his country of origin, probably one of the British Isles. Lost Billy was taken in by a family by the name of Pigford and raised as a son. In time he married and fathered children. One of his descendants was my grandmother, Lottie Pigford Hughes, wife of my Preacher Grandfather, Rev. John Lee Hughes.
Am I thankful for Lost Billy’s survival? If he had not survived the shipwreck, there would be no Grandmother Lottie Pigford Hughes, my mother would not have been born, nor would I, nor any of our children … or our 12 biological grandchildren!
So, I have so very much for which to be thankful! Physical life, quality and abundant life, and soon, eternal life with Jesus and all those that have come to saving faith in Him!
Several Other Stories of those who have received Jesus Christ by faith … and been forgiven
To hear … “Former US Senator Jim Talent of Missouri rejoices in his complete forgiveness of sins and innocence when he stands before God in death; his gift of abundant & eternal life in Christ … available to all!” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2019/05/14/former-us-senator-jim-talent-of-missouri-rejoices-in-his-complete-forgiveness-of-sins-and-innocence-when-he-stands-before-god-in-death-his-gift-of-abundant-eternal-life-in-christ-availabl/ [Pictures at this website]
To hear … St. Louis businessman Pat Bradley was an alcoholic that led to his divorce. Enter Jesus into his life! He began www.crisisaid.org, helping the needy, hungry and those trapped in the “sex trade” worldwide” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2020/04/01/st-louis-businessman-pat-bradley-was-an-alcoholic-that-led-to-his-divorce-enter-jesus-into-his-life-he-began-www-crisisaid-org-helping-the-needy-hungry-and-those-trapped-in-the-sex-tra/ [Pictures at this website]
To hear … “Former hockey player Charlie Blyth leads the STL part of www.hockeyministries.org; came to saving faith in Jesus through the ministry, and leads local hockey camps; invites us all to big STL Hockey Breakfast” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2020/01/10/former-hockey-player-charlie-blyth-leads-the-stl-part-of-www-hockeyministries-org-came-to-saving-faith-in-jesus-through-the-ministry-and-leads-local-hockey-camps-invites-us-all-to-big-stl-hockey-br/
To hear … “Called of God, Evangelist Wayne Bristow shares how to forgiven, have Peace with God and Eternal Life … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2018/08/27/called-of-god-evangelist-wayne-bristow-shares-how-to-forgiven-have-peace-with-god-and-eternal-life/
To hear … “Zina Hackworth received Christ in her 9th-grade home room in a New York City Public School! WOW!” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2018/08/06/zina-hackworth-received-christ-in-her-8th-grade-home-room-in-a-new-york-city-public-school-wow/
To hear … “A one-minute testimony from United States Senator from Missouri Josh Hawley” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2018/10/09/a-one-minute-testimony-from-josh-hawley-opposing-his-opponent-support-of-partial-birth-abortion/
To hear … “Tony Kalinowski, STL financial planner, shares his personal, fascinating spiritual journey” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2019/03/18/tony-kalinowski-stl-financial-planner-shares-his-personal-fascinating-spiritual-journey-invites-us-to-the-42nd-annual-stl-prayer-breakfast/
To hear … “Kathy Sparks Lesnoff, mother-in-law to slain STL County Lawman Blake Snyder tells his gripping story” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2016/10/31/kathy-sparks-lesnoff-mother-in-law-to-slain-stl-county-lawman-blake-snyder-tells-his-gripping-story/
To hear … “Jake Rosen and wife Jeanne of St. Louis in a radio visit; they are very Jewish and very much joyful worshippers of the Messiah Jesus Christ as the Son of God” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2019/10/21/jake-rosen-and-wife-jeanne-of-st-louis-in-a-radio-visit-they-are-very-jewish-and-very-much-joyful-worshippers-of-the-messiah-jesus-christ-as-the-son-of-god/
To hear … “Opera singer Michael Sust fled Czech prison to Austria, got NT, drawn to Jesus, uses music to share” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2018/11/30/opera-singer-michael-sust-fled-czech-prison-to-austria-got-nt-drawn-to-jesus-uses-music-to-share/
To hear … “From near suicide to receiving Jesus into his life, John Tomlinson was a United States Marine, Vietnam veteran facing death in combat, now living a joyful life in ministry, leading www.ministrytomen.com … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2019/10/15/from-near-suicide-to-receiving-jesus-into-his-life-john-tomlinson-was-a-united-states-marine-vietnam-veteran-facing-death-in-combat-now-living-a-joyful-life-in-ministry-leading-www-ministrytomen-c/
To hear … “Nancy Wilson, having ministered in 77 countries, upon learning she had stage 4 ovarian cancer, prayed: “Lord, I’m yours, dead or alive, but if I were You, I’d keep me alive!” She lived!” … click on … https://haroldhendrick.com/2019/12/11/nancy-wilson-having-ministered-in-77-countries-upon-learning-she-had-stage-4-ovarian-cancer-prayed-lord-im-yours-dead-or-alive-but-if-i-were-you-id-keep-me-alive/