By Steve Horn
ALEXANDRIA, La. – We learned Tuesday of the passing of Charles Stanley. We all have our memories of this Southern Baptist iconic leader. My earliest memories of him are his familiar voice on radio and television. In my town, he was about the only Baptist on the radio. I never met Dr. Stanley, but I do have an occasion where our paths intersected in a most God-ordained way.
While I was pastor of Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia, my administrative assistant alerted me one morning that I had a couple, not members of our church, who desired to see me. They lived down the street from the church. After a few minutes of conversation about who they were and common people that we knew, the woman pulled out a book, and asked, “Do you believe what is in this book?” The book was Charles Stanley’s Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? I confessed to them that I had not read the book, but I knew who Charles Stanley was, and based on the title, I was reasonably sure that I believed what was in the book. This middle-aged couple went on to tell me that they had picked up the book in Wal-Mart simply because of the title. The woman had read the book in one evening. The husband had read enough of it the next morning, and now they were in my office. They didn’t know who Charles Stanley was (imagine that), but the jacket cover said he was a Baptist, so they decided to walk down to the Baptist church on their street. Coming from a religious tradition that had taught them that it was impossible, even perhaps sinful and certainly arrogant, to claim eternal assurance, this couple was eager to have the peace and joy that accompanies eternal security. After a few minutes of reviewing some of the things they had read in the book and reading some Scriptures together, they both professed their faith in Jesus as the One who gives eternal life. Shortly thereafter, I baptized them. Showing marks of transformation, they immediately began to bear Christian fruit and exhibited a hunger to know God and His Word.
Only weeks after our first visit, they came to see me again. This time, they came to tell me that the man’s company was transferring him back to the same city that they had moved from only a year ago. At first, I was disappointed. I was having a blast seeing this couple grow in Christ. Then, I thought about the glory of it all. For reasons I will never be able to explain outside of the providence of God, He had moved this couple to our city just down the street from our church. By His providence, it would be the place where they would be introduced to the wonderful words of life.
Many stories will be told in the coming weeks about Charles Stanley. Few people will know the story of how God used him to bring this couple to Him. In fact, only eternity will tell all the stories. I’m glad Dr. Stanley put his thoughts on paper about eternal security. I’m thankful that Wal Mart carried the book. I’m thankful Charles was a Baptist so that the couple would seek out a Baptist Church down the street from their house. I’m thankful to be a small part of a Charles Stanley story.
Steve Horn is the Louisiana Baptist executive director.