Sermon Illustrations

I don’t stand up here today in judgment nor do I seek to make people uncomfortable. This whole subject of avoiding church is very close to my heart. I too was one who had 101 excuses why I didn’t need the church – in my early twenties I stopped coming to Olivet for a brief period, I said church was boring, I had more important things to do on my weekends – I was working to pay for my college tuition, my books, and clothes, I could work better shifts at the restaurant I was working at.

What turned me around? One Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m a couple from the U.S. showed up at the bar – the place I worked at was an elegant place, situated in the Queens Quay Terminal Building. The older couple looked to the dock with fond memories, I asked them what they were talking about, “Oh, this used to be the place we came as children every summer to catch a boat which took us to Niagara-on-the-Lake for our annual Church picnic.” I had heard about such an event. I questioned them further, “What church were you with?” The lady responded, “You wouldn’t know, it a Baptist Church in west-end Toronto.” Now my curiosity was peaked. “What’s the name of the church?”, I asked. “You wouldn’t know it, were not even sure it exists”. “Please, tell me.” I insisted. “Olivet Baptist Church.” I had goose bumps all over my body, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. I knew God was calling me back home to my family. I said to the lady that I was a member of that church. We became like long lost friends. I mentions names like Gow, and Finlayson, but they had never heard of them and then I said, “How about Mr. Devlin.” Suddenly the man blurted out, “Mr. Devlin, Mr. Roy Devlin?” “Yes,” I answered. “Mr. Devlin was my father’s barber and my barber. He’s the reason why we started going to Olivet. Every Sunday he’d knock on our door, as he did on many others on his way to church to bring people to church.”

I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was an encounter planned by God because Mr. Devlin was an important person in my life. Every single Sunday he made sure he found me and called me by name. He always asked me how I was doing, he took an interest me and I loved him very much. That evening I went to my manager and said, “Gus, if it means loosing my job then I’m prepared to loose it. You see, I can’t work anymore Sundays, I have to be in church with my family.” My manager respected my commitment and said there was no way I was going to loose my job. It was good to see Mr. Devlin that following Sunday!

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