"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God...." (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Nearly forty years ago, when April first was my favorite holiday, a man by the name of Hal Judd felt compelled to tell me about Jesus. He had heard that I was an atheist, and he had a burden from God to witness to me. I don't remember the conversation, but I remember it ended with Hal being extremely frustrated. I had made a fool of him in front of others. I felt really good about myself. I found out later that he had his church pray for my soul every prayer meeting for the next six months. I won the argument, but he would eventually win the "war."
Nothing special happened for nearly five months when out of the blue, Tim, a former neighbor of less than stellar character, wrote me. He had accepted Christ, and although he had not contacted me since I moved three years earlier, he also felt the need to share his faith. I politely answered his letter and, wouldn't you know, he sent me a pocket New Testament. I remember throwing it across the room and writing him to stop talking about religion in the future. I did not hear from him again.
About a month passed and I decided to get a good laugh. I opened that little Bible at random to Matthew 25, and read about ten virgins, about some servants, and about the judgment of some men for their treatment of the guy's brethren. What amazed me was the brilliance of the writing. It was far better than Shakespeare. While talking with my wife about it, my kids turned on a church show and the preacher's sermon was on the same thing. Needless to say, he got my attention. After watching three hours of people talking about Jesus, I knelt in my living room and accepted Christ. I can't explain how, but I immediately knew three things: the Bible was true, my sins were forgiven, and that I was to preach the Gospel.
Hal Judd in Florida, Tim Coffman in California, a preacher in Alabama, and finally a preacher in Ohio, all had been used over a period of six months to bring me to Jesus Christ. Three colleges, a seminary, and forty years later, I am still amazed at the complex way in which God works to change hearts. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God does not want anyone to have to go to hell, and John 3:16 tells us just how badly He wants to save us. He allowed His Son to die an excruciating death for us. While He showed Him no mercy, He had mercy on the entire human race. The "whosoevers" of John 3:16 and Romans 10:13 are now the children of God. Hal Judd, while imperfect as we all are, believed in Jesus, and he wanted everyone else to believe as well. I thank God for Hal Judd and Tim Coffman; I have told them so, much to their overwhelming joy.