It’s so hard to believe it has been 42 years. In July of 1973 Cecil O. Sewell moved his family from their comfortable home in Birmingham to a place where they knew no one. Sharon, Petie, and Melanie did not object, because they knew the move was not about a job, but a call. It was a call from God. Dr. Sewell accepted the call to be the second pastor at the College Park Baptist Church in Houston.
Something else was happening in Houston, just a couple of miles away. Two boys, ages 15 and 13, were playing tennis every day, going to the beach on weekends, and goofing off the way teenagers do. The one thing they didn’t do in the summer of 1973, or any other summer for that matter, was go to church. But their neighbors did. And their neighbors were two cute teenage girls.
The girls were not old enough to drive, so they rode a bus to church. And the church they happened to go to was the same church Dr. Sewell had just come to as pastor. The two boys were invited to ride the bus to church, but that didn’t have much appeal until they met the two girls. So they rode the bus, went to church, and met this young pastor from Alabama. A month later, the oldest boy talked to Mrs. Sewell after a Sunday School class. She led him to faith in Jesus, as he trusted Christ as his Savior. A few months later, he sat in Pastor Sewell’s office with his younger brother, as he too came to faith in Christ.
I will forever be grateful that the Sewells followed God’s call. I still talk to them, except for Melanie, who went home to be with her Savior two years ago. And I will forever be grateful for Dottie and Malinda, the teenage girls who invited those boys to church. And I will forever be grateful for the older brother, because he was/is my brother. Jim Denison would go on to become one of America’s premier scholars, pastors, and authors. But it was his witness 42 years ago that made the difference in my life.
I bet you have a similar story. God uses people to reach people. And God wants to use you today. There is someone you know who needs encouragement, wisdom, or just a hug. I know the value of a person answering God’s call on their life. And so on this day, I am especially grateful for a young pastor from Alabama who said yes to God’s call on his life and moved to a small church in a big city where he would made a giant impression. Yes, God uses people. God used Dr. Sewell in my life 42 years ago. And he is still using him in my life today. I am blessed to call him “Pastor.”