Everyday People

StonestreetJohn was a rowdy, distracted high school kid in a Christian academy. On the last day of school before Christmas break, his teacher gave an assignment that would change his life.

The assignment paired him with a friend to go visit a shut-in, to bring some Christmas cheer. He was about to meet Omega Buckner. After an awkward attempt at conversation and singing Silent Night together, Ms. Buckner asked if she could pray for the boys. Despite having heard prayers all his life, John never heard anyone converse as though Jesus were in the room.

Two years later, he woke up thinking about her. He went to visit, and she greeted him by saying she had prayed for him that morning. Thus began a warm, mentoring friendship. In college, he took students to meet her, and many were impacted by the depth of her faith. The visits lasted until her life ended at age 97, but her impact on his life will not end. John Stonestreet tells this and other stories about “God’s audacious plan to change the world through everyday people” in his book, Restoring All Things.

It is tempting to be discouraged as the culture turns against the truths Christians know, and the values we hold sacred. Before he died in April, Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George concluded, “It is likely that I will die in my bed. My successor will die in prison. His successor will die executed in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” His statement expresses the hope that God is always at work, renewing, regenerating, reconciling. Remember Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God?

God’s servants are called to be a blessing to the cultural belligerents, and to the world. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:19-20). All Christians are called through the life of Christ to be part of the Father’s work, even if we are unpopular or misunderstood.

In your community you will probably find Omega Buckner’s kin providing food and financial help to the needy, helping mothers with unplanned pregnancies, assisting with medical needs, reaching out to jail and detention center inmates, and providing counseling and rehabilitation therapy. You will find Christ-followers serving in government, education, business, and civic organizations.

What becomes of Western culture is beyond our control. T.S. Eliot wrote, “For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” That we are here and trying is the evidence, hope, and victory that God is accomplishing His plan. Whatever the future, everyday people will still be part of the great work of God, loving and reconciling people to Himself.

Unlikely Converts

 A person does not become a Christian in a usual place, service, or prayer. There is no typical convert. In fact, if you get a group of believers together to tell their stories, all would be different and some would seem unlikely. 


Ana Marie Cox

 John Stonestreet (Colson Center for Christian Worldview) was on the radio a while back discussing Ana Marie Cox, a writer, editor, and political pundit. She describes herself as “progressive, feminist, tattooed,” not exactly convert material. Yet she recently ‘came out’ as a Christian in a Daily Beast article. On Morning Joe she explained, “I have grace offered to me no matter who I am or what I’ve done. No matter if I’m liberal or conservative or I’ve bone bad things in the past. It’s not that I think you should believe like I do. I have found something incredibly precious, and it’s too precious not to share with others.” 


Dr. Rosaria Butterfield

 Dr. Rosaria Butterfield, a tenured university professor, was clearly on the far left and quite anti-Christian. After she bashed Promise Keepers in an article, a pastor approached her, encouraging her to look deeper. It was his persistent, engaging way that led her to the Bible. Her friends noticed a change as she considered the words of Jesus. “I fought with everything I had. I did not want this. I did not ask for this,” she admitted. Then one ordinary day, she believed. “The voice of God sang a sanguine love song in the rubble of my world.” Now she has a husband, a Christian pastor, and she’s living a redeemed life. 


Kirsten Powers

 Kirsten Powers is sometimes on a ‘fair and balanced’ cable news channel. Earlier in her life she wavered between atheism and agnosticism. Though stridently irreligious, she broke her personal rule not to date a religious guy, and began attending church with him. She began to think that the evidence favored Christianity. Then she had a memorable dream about Jesus that compelled her to join a home Bible study looking for answers. She became convinced. “Of all people surprised that I became an evangelical Christian, I’m the most surprised. The Hound of Heaven had pursued me and caught me – whether I like it or not,” she confessed. 

 C.S. Lewis tried to remain atheist but, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” Saul was a persecutor of the early church who was changed by Jesus on that Damascus Road. And the list of seemingly improbable converts goes on. 

 But are these really unlikely conversions? Don’t underestimate the power of truth! Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good or good people better; he came to give life, something everyone needs. In that sense, we all start from the same place, so if anyone is an unlikely convert, we all are.