There was once a boy around sixteen years of age, we’ll call him Halbert. After a prolonged illness, Halbert’s doctor informed him that he likely had only six weeks to live. Understandably troubled by the news of his impending death, he went for a walk in the town where he lived. As he walked by a coffee shop, Halbert saw a sign announcing a weeklong series of meetings presented by two Adventist evangelists. The headline for the first night’s presentation promised to explain “where the dead go after they die.” In light of his recent diagnosis, he thought this was something he should attend. Halbert’s family was well-acquainted with topics of faith. His father, a dedicated Methodist preacher, reluctantly permitted the boy to attend the nightly meetings, figuring he would die soon anyway.
Night after night, Halbert sat through the evangelistic meetings, absorbing each topic—ultimately responding to a call to accept the Sabbath. Though his grandfather and father—both preachers—tried to talk him out of it, he knew that what he had heard was Truth. Remarkably, when Halbert’s father realized that there was little hope of convincing him otherwise, he offered to help his son keep the Sabbath.
Publicly, the response to these evangelistic meetings was tepid at best. Halbert’s public acceptance of the Sabbath was the lone response of the week, and the meetings were ultimately considered a failure by the sponsoring conference.
But what a response it was. That lone response to the call of God was none other than Halbert M. J. Richards, father of successful Adventist evangelist (and media pioneer) H.M.S. Richards, Sr., who baptized thousands of people over a long career in ministry. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Elder Richards’ father made a decision that would change the course of history for his family and countless thousands of others through his public evangelism and radio ministries. God took the “one” response at a poorly attended evangelistic series and applied a divine multiplier in the life of H.M.J. Richards.
Do we believe that Jesus is coming soon? Do we realize the great privilege we possess—of partnering with God to bring His life-changing Gospel message to the world? I hope and pray that God will continue to use this church and its members to spread this good news into our community and (far) beyond. After all, every need, every Bible study, every baptism, and every testimony has to start somewhere. Will the next “one” be introduced to Jesus by you?