The following story is from Randy Ray, pastor of Temple Baptist Church, in Tallahassee, Florida.
Robbie Yost was a FAITH fanatic! That's what I call the people in our church who are truly sold on the FAITH strategy for ministry. Robbie was definitely sold on FAITH — and for good reason. She was the first person saved through the FAITH ministry of our church. Before telling you more about her, you should understand why we started FAITH.
As it is in so many places, we had become comfortable with who we were, where we were, and what we were doing. We were that way because I was that way. If the pastor is complacent, the church is happy to follow. To equate it to suburban life, we were like those church members who have a comfortable house, multiple automobiles, and enough cash flow to do whatever they wish. It's easy to get the rich fool syndrome from this state of life. I knew this wasn't right, and God continued dealing with my heart about getting our ministry to become what we reported ourselves to be, a soul-winning church. As a local New Testament church, we had become "importers of the gospel," taking what we could get in professions of faith on Sunday mornings, yet rarely giving the Good News through personal evangelism. God had called us to be exporters not importers, going into all the world, but that just wasn't happening.
Every year my staff attends at least part of the Pastor's School at First Baptist of Jacksonville. About five years ago, God was really working on me about this self-satisfied attitude in our church. In one of the daytime sessions I came in late and caught only the last few minutes of a message by Bobby Welch. God used that small portion of his message to encourage me to learn more about FAITH. Before long, my staff was in Montgomery, Alabama, at Vaughn Forest Baptist Church training in FAITH. We went home and immediately began our first semester. Now we are in our tenth semester with more than 1,200 souls having trusted Christ as Savior through FAITH! Twelve hundred souls, all important to our Lord but none more memorable to me than Robbie Yost!
On Monday evening, September 13, 1999, my FAITH team knocked on the door of Kermit and Robbie Yost What we found that evening was a "divine appointment," a special engagement God had prepared. Robbie was eager to see us, and Kermit was cordial. Kermit sat on the kitchen counter because the table wasn't big enough for everyone-besides he didn't seem to really want to be in this conversation. After our introduction and involvement dialog, it was time for the key question. Because Robbie was active and Kermit passive it was directed toward her. "In your personal opinion, what do you understand that it takes for a person to go to heaven?"
Robbie's answer to that question led us to the FAITH outline and soon it was time to invite her to pray. While most of the instruction was given in Robbie's direction, I was careful to keep Kermit involved, too. Robbie was eager to pray, but what about the man sitting on the counter? "Kermit, will you pray with Robbie and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, too," I asked. "It wouldn't hurt would it?" was his surprising response. Hopping down off the counter we made a space for him beside Robbie. They were saved that night and became our first two success stories of FAITH. Like we learned in our training sessions, follow-up was very important so we made arrangements to meet them for church the next Sunday. They were there bright and early on that Sunday, ready to make their profession of faith and present themselves for believer's baptism.
Kermit and Robbie became a pastor's dream. They never missed a church service for the first year. They joined FAITH the very next semester, and both of them became fanatics about it! They were learners, then leaders, then recruiters. Whatever could be done in FAITH, they wanted to do it.
Then one day we received devastating news. Robbie was diagnosed with cancer. She would have a terrible time of it, too. Soon I realized that while we were sitting in that little kitchen sharing the gospel with Robbie, cancer was quietly, relentlessly taking her from this life. That was truly a divine appointment!
Robbie didn't allow cancer to stop her. She continued in FAITH, semester after semester, with hair, without hair, on good days and bad. Robbie was faithful to FAITH and to every other meeting and ministry of the church. She walked when she could walk, then took a wheelchair, then a golf cart, and so on. Kermit picked her up, placed her in a seat, and off they went to serve the Lord together. Eventually Robbie could no longer go out on FAITH so she came to FAITH night encouraging those who were going, then stayed behind to pray for God to use them as they went where she could no longer go. Robbie went to be with the Lord last November, four years and two months after inviting us into her home and Jesus Christ into her heart.
Robbie had planned her own funeral service, which included the sharing of the FAITH outline. In fact, that was her main instruction. By the end of the day, seven souls were saved! Praise the Lord!
This is a clear and wonderful example that is repeated over and over. A pastor moves out of his comfort zone to train his people for the sake of souls, and God meets him and blesses beyond belief.
Bobby Welch is pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.