Posted by: Rex Boyles | December 10, 2007

“I met the Ethiopian eunuch.”

She is neither Ethiopian nor eunuch … but I have seen in her the same desire to understand God’s Word – the same determination to learn God’s Word – the same devotion to obey God’s Word, as that one Philip met on a desert road.

Please read Acts 8:26-39; and let me tell you our story. (It may be longer than you have time for – but it is a fascinating record of God’s awareness of and His search for seekers of the truth.)

In the Summer of 2006, I received a call from a professor at Texas Tech. She asked me to repeat a presentation that I had made to her graduate students the summer before. Her course was Religous and Cultural Diversity, and she wanted me to present the Judeo-Christian world view. I agreed.

She introduced me to a class of about 20 graduate students in the Masters of Counseling program at TTU. She mentioned that I was David’s father (he had been in her class the previous summer) … a licensed Social Worker – the Director of TEAM Lubbock (an effort to apprentice “at risk” students with successful business men and woman) … and the “pastor” of a new church in town. As she finished her kind introduction, she said: “I am sure that Reverend Boyles (I looked around to see who she was talking about) will want to tell us something about his church.”

I had not thought of saying anything about our baby church, so I am sure that I seemed a little awkward, when I said, “I am sorry, but I would rather not say anything about the church where I teach … because – to be honest – we do not advertise – do not compete with other churches – we are just trying to give people who have been broken or bruised by sin (their own or someone else’s) a place to rest and heal. Probably the only way you would ever hear about our little place will be – if you are hurting and need a place to rest.” Then without further fanfare I made my presentation.

At the end of class several students came by to “thank you for coming today” … “I enjoyed your presentation” … etc. (All the things you are supposed to say to a guest speaker.) However, two students kept “hanging around” – they wanted to talk.

One of those students was Jennifer … a bright and serious young lady, ex-military and the wife of a man (Derek), who is still in the Air Force. Our initial conversation was brief. “Could you tell me more about your church?” She told me that she had been reading her Bible and had some questions. We scheduled a time to meet and to look for the answers to her questions in God’s Word.

She came into my office with her Bible and notebook. We talked hometowns and families. Then I took out a pen and a piece of paper – “What are some of the questions that you have?” (I expected her to have only two or three questions, but I wanted to write them down – so that I wouldn’t forget them.) She opened her notebook and began reading her questions. I had a page of notes before I stopped her to say, “Well, why don’t we start with these?”

Her questions ranged from obscure details buried in the Old Testament record of the kings to the most majestic eternal questions of the soul. Listed about third or fourth on her list of questions was one that I knew I could answer – at least I knew where to find the answer in God’s Word. She wanted to know how she could know – really know – if she was saved.

I wanted to be fair to her – she had not come to be “preached at” by me – so I asked her, “If you had to put these questions in order of their importance to you – which would be the most important?”

She didn’t hesitate, “Salvation. I want to know if I am saved.”

She had been reading her Bible – earnestly, for months. She wanted to know God’s will for her life. I didn’t ask her what Philip asked the Ethiopian, “Do you understand what you are reading?” But with her Bible on the table in front of her and her pen in hand – ready to take notes, she opened her heart to me as the Eunuch did to Philip, “How can I unless someone teach me?”

It was simple enough. We opened our Bibles and from the Scriptures found “good news about Jesus”.

On our third visit she looked at me and said, “I need to be baptized.” She told me why she had drawn that conclusion – how she knew that was God’s will. But she had some other questions …

For almost 18 months we have been discussing the Bible together, answering questions – from the most minute detail to the most divine mystery. She never stopped reading … never stopped asking questions … never stopped taking notes … never stopped seeking to know God’s will … never stopped wanting to follow Jesus – but she just wanted to make sure of what she believed.

My old heart would ache for her sometimes, when she struggled to understand spiritual mysteries that even angels dare not claim to understand. I would pray over and over – in her hearing or in my heart in between our visits – that God would keep her safe (sometimes she would be driving as much as 4 hours round trip to meet for our studies). Frequently, I would ask, “What are you thinking? Are you ready?” – hoping that she would say it – do it.

We discussed philosophical “truths” … religious distinctions between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam … family backgrounds and how that affects moral and spiritual development. We studied the wars of the Old Testament and the parables of the New Testament.

But over and over again we returned to the Master – the Prince of Peace – the Son of the Living God. It was in those discussions that both of us found light – wisdom – good news.  

 When we couldn’t study face to face – we sent emails back and forth with more questions, seeking more answers. It was in an email that she finally told me just a few days ago, “Derek and I are coming to church on Sunday. I want to be baptized.”

My heart started pounding, as I read her email and – even now as I typed, “I want to be baptized!”

So, on Sunday morning at our little OPEN church Derek, her husband, witnessed her “good confession” and her being buried in baptism – in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of her sins – according to the Word of God, she loves so dearly. And when she was raised out of that water, she was raised to walk in a new life, according to the Word of God, she trusts so completely.

As she was drying off and changing clothes, Derek and I were talking. I mentioned, apologetically, that our little back room and our “baptistry” (nothing more than an old hot-tub) were not very nice – certainly nothing like in other churches. He answered: “She has wanted to do this for so long, waiting for the right time and the right place. She has enjoyed her time studying with you and getting to know some of the people in the church – she wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 Jennifer came out of the dressing room (the girl’s restroom) – hair wet – big smile. She hugged my neck. Derek shook my hand … and she went on her way rejoicing.  

P.S. Do I believe that the Spirit led me to TTU that day to meet Jennifer? Yes. Did I feel it – sense it – know it – at the time? No, but I believed it. But how does an ex-military lady get from Ohio to Lubbock – to sit in the same room – at the same time that an ex-preacher comes to give a graduate class a peek at the eternal purpose of God from Genesis to Maps? At our place – we call that a God-thing!

P.P.S. For the last 6-8 months of our time studying together, Jennifer would meet me at the “OPEN” on Wednesday nights. We would study – then she would stay – eat supper and listen to me teach our Wednesday night crowd (if you can call 30 people a crowd). I don’t know any other way to say this – but I am so proud of our folks, who made Jennifer feel welcomed – included – even special. (When our supper ladies, Paige and Sherry, found out that she liked pizza – they made sure that we had it on the nights that she was going to be there.) I believe God brought Jennifer to this place – so that she could see – experience – firsthand what it means for a church to be – not only a church of Christ but a church like Christ. She came home here, and we are celebrating.  

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