Friday, May 29, 2009


“I’m Baack!!”

What does hitting a deer with a pickup, cleaning up debris from an ice storm, a sermon from a funeral, and a dying man with cancer have in common? Well, this was truly one of those By The Way moments.

A few days ago I was in Community First Bank to do some business. While waiting for another party, I saw Joe Bill Dearing, one of my former church members. He began to tell me a story (something he loves to do) that seemed to especially excite him.

It seems that he had quite a lot of debris in his yard from limbs that was the result of the winter ice storm we experienced in this area. He had a friend and neighbor that told him of another neighbor who was interested in sending a group of men with chain saws and trucks to clean up his yard. He was reluctant at first to accept any help, saying he would probably pay someone to clean it up. But his neighbor insisted that this other neighbor very much wanted to help. So his friend introduced him to Bro. Bob, who is on the staff of First Baptist Church, Harrison, which was one of the locations that housed and fed many who had come to this area to help in the clean-up. Even though Bro Bob lived close to Joe Bill, this was the first time they had met. Bro. Bob insisted that getting a team out to help him would be a blessing to him and the team, so Joe Bill agreed. Well, the team that was supposed to come to Joe Bills house could not make it. Instead there were two men from two different churches in Marshfield, MO, that showed up. Joe Bill invited them in during a rest time from the brush and limb cleaning up process.

They began to talk about their respective churches. Joe Bill was anxious to share with them a little of the history of his church, Union Baptist. Joe bill got in such a big way with his history lesson that he invited the two men to accompany him and he would take them on a tour of Union Baptist and surrounding area. In process he passed by a house of a man who was dying of cancer. This man had been given a short time to live. His yard was littered with limbs. Joe Bill said to the men, “now there is a place you guys need to help clean up, and maybe in process you could share a witness with this dying man. Joe Bill and many others over the years had prayed for this man and had talked to him about the gospel, but to no avail. By the time the tour was over it was time for these two men to return home to Missouri. But they promised that they would be back the next day and go to work cleaning up the yard of the man with the cancer. Before they left, Joe Bill gave them a CD of the funeral I had preached for Joe Bill’s wife, Dennie, who had died about three years ago. Apparently they listen to the CD on their way back to Missouri and were moved by the message.

The next day those two men showed up ready to go to work. Joe Bill went with them. After they had finished cleaning the yard they went inside the house and began to talk to the gentleman with the terminal cancer. God used their witness and right there they lead the man in a sinner’s prayer. Joe Bill said he recognized the wording of the prayer because it was the same one, word for word, I had used at Dennie’s funeral to encourage the lost to accept Christ as savior. As the men left that day they were rejoicing in this dying man’s salvation. Before they left to go back to Missouri they gave the CD back to Joe Bill and ask him to take it to this new believer so he could listen to the message. He was not able to do that because the man died before the sun arose on another day. Joe Bill had the comfort in knowing that this man, whom he had known for years, went to sleep on this side and woke in the arms of the savior on the other side.

Oh, what about my old blue Toyota pick-up hitting a deer? I did hit a deer while on my way home from Prayer meeting at Union Baptist Church one Wednesday night while driving through the Gather community. It did quite a bit of damage to the truck, and took the life of the deer. Well, in Joe Bills words, “The fellow at the body shop that I got to fix your pick-up, while you were on a mission trip to New Mexico, had a brother. This brother was a neighbor, whom I met because I had made acquaintance with his brother who had the body shop. This brother was the one who introduced me to Bro. Bob from First Baptist Church.” Joe Bill continued, “If you had not hit that deer I might have never met the man at the body shop, and therefore might not have gotten to know his brother. If I had not gotten to know the brother, I might have never meet Bro. Bob. And if I had not met Bro. Bob I might not have known about the group that was cleaning up the limbs and brush, and would not have met the two men from the two Baptist churches in Missouri. And if I had not met them they would not have been here to witness to my dying friend. But it did happen just the way God put it together and today my friend is in heaven. Now, it sounds like a God thing to me!” All I could say was, “Amen!!!”

Psalm 37: 23 When people's steps follow the Lord, God is pleased with their ways. (New Century Version)