A few weeks ago, I was privileged to preach a Family Conference in a country church in southern West Virginia. We had good crowds and a good spirit and God’s blessing on the conference. I wish you could have been there . . .
One of my favorite things about the week was that I was able to sit for a few hours with an older brother in Christ and hear his story. He and his wife both had birthdays a few days before our conference. He turned 89 and she turned 88. Later this year they will celebrate 68 years of marriage. She is dealing with Parkinsons Disease and it is weighing heavily on him. Tears filled his eyes when he talked about their life together and how he is hurting as he watches her struggle with her health. It was so sweet! He let us know that he was planning to stay by her side all the way to heaven. I told him that after 67 years they might as well stay together! I wish you could have been with me as we talked about his marriage and family. He told me about family devotions at supper each night and about family prayer and all about his children and grand-children. It was great!
I also wish you could have been with me when we talked about ministry and revival. He was called to preach later than some. He was employed in concrete and serving in a church in Illinois. He helped with soul winning and Awana and buses and so forth. A man in the church often gave him books about revival and prayer. Those books were used by God to change his life. He eventually moved to a town in Kentucky for some training and then back to his hometown area in Southern WV.
It wasn’t long until he was “voted in” as the pastor of Rich Creek Baptist. In his words, “I had no idea what I was doing! So I did the only things I knew to do.” You know what he did? He prayed and wept and asked God to fill Him with His Spirit. He went soul winning and decided to try to win everybody he met to Jesus. Did it work? You better believe it.
Eighty-four souls were saved, baptized, and added to the church in the first few years. One “meeting” that went for several weeks saw 8 or more souls saved and baptized every night! The churches reputation spread and one person said, “If you go 3 times to Rich Creek – you will get saved.” He followed that up by saying, “Well, a preacher out to be good for something!” I reckon that makes sense doesn’t it?
He continued by telling us that winning souls became the focus of his life and ministry and church. Every Thursday night he lead the church to go witness to people all over the surrounding area. Every Sunday afternoon he and others in the church visited those who had attended that day but who didn’t trust Christ. They also visited those who had trusted Christ and prayed with them again and began discipling them and preparing them for baptism and church membership. He lead prayer meetings – that souls would be saved and added to the church. He scheduled revivals so his congregation could not only be strengthened to see more souls saved, but so they also could see souls saved during these revivals. He made hospital visits and always tried to win souls while he was at the hospitals. And on and on I could go sharing with you his story.
He is older now, more feeble, and does a lot of reflecting. He has preached 800 funerals, many of those the funerals of people he won to Christ. He still attends Rich Creek and many of the older people in the church are those who came to Christ under his ministry and who have grown in the Lord and are still doing so. There are some younger people there whom he has lead to Christ as well. He still weeps when he talks about souls. He still glows when he talks about Jesus.
His name is Ralph Calfee, and he is a man with a great testimony of the power of Christ, the power of the gospel, and the power of the Spirit. You know what I love about his testimony? We too can weep and pray and be filled with the Spirit and win souls.
That is what I want. I think you do as well.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend.