About this time of the summer, forty-seven years ago I became a Christian at Gull Lake Baptist Camp in Alberta. Ken Hilmer and Reg Bibby were counsellors so they, along with the Holy Spirit and my parent’s prayers bear the responsibility for the beginning of my life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Billy Graham became a Christian as a teenager at one of the many evangelistic meetings that were available to him in that era. He claimed in later life to have had a total of four changes or conversions in his life; the first to Jesus which fed all the purpose, meaning and joy in his life. The second was to a repudiation of racism (just as the first conversion was a repudiation of sin) and reconciliation with others. The third was to a willingness to embrace fellowship with other believers (indeed to talk to those of other faiths). And finally, a turning to peace and to a rejection of nuclear weapons. These changes are Billy Graham’s constructs, not mine. Interesting none-the-less.
John Stewart asked Jim Wallis (Editor of Sojourners) about his new book a couple years ago. The book went by the interesting title: God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. Nasty eh? Everyone annoyed yet? Wallis said “I started writing in part because I have had two conversion experiences; my first was to Christ as my personal Saviour and the second conversion was to the poor (a paraphrase).
Two further thoughts. I was listening to the Billy Graham scholar Grant Wacker from Duke University this past week who said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association doesn’t refer to “converts” but “enquirers” believing that the veracity of spiritual commitment must be verified by the individual with God through the Holy Spirit not enumerated by some other party. Interesting.
Secondly, I remind us all of the idea, that in the stages of awareness, belief and maturing we use the terms belong, believe, become.