That’s the vision Dr. Nixon’s congregation caught at Lakeview Church. He challenged that congregation and calls on us to “Focus attention on winning lost people.” God “increased Lakeview’s territory” when they “focused their attention on reaching and winning people to Jesus.” The Holy Spirit and His Holy Word convinced Lakeview that their mission was to “embrace the lost and least.” [Souurce: David F. Nixon, LEADING THE COMEBACK CHURCH: Help Your Church Rebound from Decline (Kansas City, Missour: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2004), 21.]].
The Church decided to place a large candle which they called the “salvation candle” on a pedestal in the sanctuary. Every time someone accepted Jesus as their Saviour, the congregation lit the candle. If at times the candle went unlit, the Church was reminded they had work to do.
Connie, a young mother of four, was God’s instrument in lighting the candle the first time. On her way to Sunday School one morning she noted a homeless man collecting cans from a dumpster and placing them in his grocery cart. The Holy Spirit led Connie to invite the man to Church. She left her children at the Church for Sunday School and went across the street to speak to the man. Here is how the encounter unfolded.
“Connie introduced herself and asked, ‘What’s your name?’”
“George,’ he said, expecting to be scolded for pilfering in the trash.
“Do you go to church anywhere?’ Connie asked.
“No, ma’am—I don’t,’ George said, his head dropping. ‘Who’d want me to attend their church?’
“We would,’ Connie said, her noticeably sweet perfume catching George’s attention.
“You would?’ George asked in disbelief. ‘Where do you go to church?’ he said as his eyes brightened.
“Over there,” Connie said pointing to Lakeview Church, just across the street on the corner.
“But I’m not dressed good,’ George protested.
“Come as you are George—we take anybody,’ Connie said confidently. “In fact, the Lord told me to stop and invite you.’ She paused and then said, ‘Would you like to come today?’
“OK,’ George said to his newfound friend. ‘I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.’”
“Sure enough, George pushed his grocery cart across the four lanes of traffic on that busy corner while Connie waited at the front door.”
Here is “the rest of the story” : George went to Sunday School where he was led to receive Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord. In worship the “salvation candle was lit for the first time, and Pastor Nixon introduced George as their first convert. “George got a few strange looks on his first Sunday at church, but he rarely missed a Sunday after that.” [Source: Nixon, pp. 19-20].
Dr. Nixon testifies, “From the first Sunday the candle was lit, a steady stream of new converts flowed into the church as a direct result of this effort. Eighteen months later, more than 90 people had been won to Christ.” [Source: Nixon, pp. 20-21].