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Summary: The shadow of the cross on his lap and no one mentions Jesus

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CECIL

TEXT: AWAKE THOU SLEEPER!...

THERE IS A CHURCH IN FLORIDA THAT AT ONE TIME CATERED TO THE WELL TO DO OF THE COMMUNITY. THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH WAS WELL KNOWN AMONG NEIGHBOURHOOD BUSINESS PEOPLE AND POLITICIANS. EVERY SUNDAY HE PREACHED SERMONS THAT TICKLED THE EARS OF THOSE HE MINISTERED TOO. IF YOU WERE ANYBODY YOU WENT TO THIS PASTORS CHURCH. ONE DAY THE PASTOR SAT IN HIS STUDY READING A CHRISTIAN PUBLICATION, FEELING PRETTY GOOD ABOUT HIMSELF. IN THE PUBLICATION WAS AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE FIFTY RICHEST CHURCHES IN THE STATE. SURELY HIS CHURCH WOULD BE ONE OF THE FIFTY HE THOUGHT, TO HIS AMAZEMENT IT WASN’T. HIS BOTHERED HIM FOR AWHILE BEFORE HE LET IT GO. THE NEXT MONTH BROUGHT A NEW EDITION OF THE SAME PUBLICATION. THIS TIME THERE WAS A ARTICLE ABOUT THE FIFTY BIGGEST CHURCHES IN FLORIDA. SURELY THE PASTOR THOUGHT HIS CHURCH WOULD BE IN THIS LIST; HOWEVER, IT WASN’T. HE STARTED TO GET UPSET THAT HE WASN’T ALL THAT HE TAUGHT HE WAS. THE NEXT MONTH A NEW ARTICLE THE FIFTY FASTEST GROWING CHURCHES THIS TIME. NOW THE PASTOR KNEW THERE WAS NO DOUBT HIS WAS GROWING FASTER THAN ANY HE EVER KNEW OF HE SAW TO THAT. SADLY HIS CHURCH WAS NOT LISTED IT WAS ALL HE COULD DO TO COMPOSE HIMSELF AT THIS POINT. HE COULD BARELY PREACH THE NEXT SUNDAY. HE DECIDED HE WAS GOING TO GET FIFTY OF THE CHURCHES BEST MEN AND WOMEN TO TRAVEL ACCROSS THE STATE TO FIND OUT THE SECRET OF THESE CHURCHES.

WEEKLY THE PEOPLE WOULD MEET AS OTHER CHURCHES HAD BEEN VISITED TO DISCUSS THEIR FINDINGS. AFTER ABOUT SIX WEEKS A LIST WAS COMPILED WITH ALL THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE FIFTY BEST CHURCHES AND HERES WHAT THEY FOUND.

1. ALL FIFTY CHURCHES HAD SOULWINNING PROGRAMS

2. ALL FIFTY CHURCHES HAD A BUS MINISTRY

3. ALL FIFTY CHURCHES MINISTERED TO THE POOR OF THE AREA

4. ALL FIFTY CHURCHES BELIEVED THE BIBLE AS GOD’S WORD

5. ALL FIFTY CHURCHES VISITED SHUTINS REGULARLY

THE PASTOR AFTER EXAMINING THE LIST OVER AND OVER FOUND HIS HEART BEGINNING TO BREAK. HE REALIZED HE HAD BEEN CATERING TO THE WEALTHY AND IGNORED THE POOR. HE REALIZED THE ONLY VISITATION HIS CHURCH DID WAS THAT AMONG FRIENDS OF THE CHURCH. HE HAD NOT CARED FOR THE POOR MUCH LESS PRAY FOR THEM. HE BECAME A NEW MAN. DURING THE SERMON ON SUNDAY MORNING HE CONFESSED TO THE CONGREGATION. HE TOLD THEM THAT RIGHT AFTER SERVICE THAT MORNING HE WAS GOING TO GO SOUL WINNNING HE COULD NOT WAIT, HE INVITED ANYBODY ELSE WHO WANTED TO COME. THEY CALLED IT OPPERATION PENTACOST. AMAZINGLY ABOUT HALF THE CHURCHES MEN AND A FEW WOMEN DECIDED WITH A BROKEN HEART TO REACH THE LOST FOR JESUS CHRIST. CHURCH ENDED AND THOSE GOING SOULWINNING PRAYED GOT IN GROUPS OF TWO WITH A PLAN TO COVER THE ENTIRE AREA BEFORE EVENING SERVICE. THE PASTOR HEADED DOWN THE STREET ENDING UP IN THE WORST AREA OF TOWN STARTED KNOCKING ON DOORS.

HE KNOCKED ON ONE DOOR AND A BOY SITTING ON THE STAIRS OUTSIDE OF A BROKEN DOWN HOME WITH CARDBOARD OVER SOME OF THE WINDOWS. THE HOUSE LOOKING LIKE IT WAS READY TO FALL TO THE GROUND YELLED OUT, " AIN’T NO ONE LIVE THERE" SO THE PASTOR WENT TO THE NEXT HOUSE AIN’T NO ONE LIVE THERE EITHER. HE GOES TO THE NEXT ONE NO ONE THERE EITHER OR THE NEXT ONE OR THE NEXT ONE THAT BROUGHT THE PASTOR TO THE BOYS HOUSE. THE PASTOR NOTICED THAT THE SHADOW FROM THE STEEPLE OF HIS CHURCH WAS LAYING ACCROSS THE LAB OF THE BOY. HE LOOKED AT THE BOY WHO WAS WEARING CUT OFF BLUE JEAN SHORTS NO SHOES OR SHIRT. HIS HAIR WAS LONG AND RAGGED. WHATS YOUR NAME THE PASTOR ASKED? CECIL REPLIED THE BOY. THE PASTOR TOLD HIM WHO HE WAS AND THAT HE WAS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD INVITING EVERYONE IN THE AREA TO HIS CHURCH. THE BOY SAID NO WAY MISTER ONLY RICH PEOPLE GO TO THAT CHURCH THEY WOULDN’T LET SOMEONE LIKE ME IN THEIR. SURE THEY WOULD SAID THE PASTOR PLEASE COME. CECIL SAID HE WOULD HAVE TO ASK HIS GRANDMA. GRANMA! GRANDA! YELLED THE BOY THERE IS A MISTER OUT HERE WANTS US TO GO TO HIS CHURCH. AN OLD LADY CAME OUTSIDE AND INTRODUCED HERSELF AS LILLY. SHE MUST HAVE BEEN SOMEWHERE BETWEEN SIXTY AND SEVENTY THE PREACHER THAUGHT. SHE WAS WEARING A DRESS SO OLD IT LOOKED AS THOU IT WOULD FALL APART IF SHE SO MUCH AS RUBBED AGAINST ANYTHING. THE PASTOR WAS UNMOVED IN HIS QUEST TO GET THEM TO CHURCH. LILLY TO WAS AFFRAID OF WHAT PEOPLE WOULD THINK AT CHURCH ABOUT THEM. HOWEVER THE PASTOR FINALLY SUCCEEDED AND THEY AGREED TO COME. THE PASTOR THEN CONTINUED DOWN THE STREET TO KNOCK ON OTHER DOORS AND INVITE OTHERS. TIME WAS DRAWING CLOSE TO CHURCH TIME AND THE PASTOR HEADED BACK FOR THE CHURCH IT WAS GONNA BE CLOSE HE KNEW HE WOULD HAVE TO GO RIGHT TO THE PULPIT WHEN HE GOT THERE. TO HIS AMAZEMENT AS HE TURNED THE CORNER HE WAS LIKE WOW! THE CHURCH WAS OVERFLOWING WITH PEOPLE. TEARS BEGAN TO FILL HIS EYES AS HE REALIZED WHAT HE HAD NOT DONE IN SO LONG.


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