I remember, back when I was 14 or so, one particular night when my father, who was a pastor, got a wee-hours-in-the-morning call that changed lives forever.
When the phone rang, I tumbled out of bed, tangled in sheets. (The phone was on my nightstand; the only other one was in the kitchen.)
On the other end of the line was a frantic woman whom neither my parents nor I knew. She was frantic because her husband—violent, high on drugs, and out of his mind, had tried to kill her. Could my dad come? she begged. She’d found Daddy’s name in the phone book.
This was during the ’70s, when most pastors also had full-time jobs. My father was a lathe operator who stood on concrete all day. Though he wore suits on Sunday, he came home each day covered in aluminum dust and with cuts on his hands. And when this phone call came—there were only hours before his next shift would begin.
My father dutifully got out of bed and went to these strangers’ home, and there he found a desperate young man. Andrew was hopelessly stoned and cowering in his closet. My dad gently pulled him out, sat with him until he was sober, calmed his wife with the peaceful presence of Christ, and got both of them saved—hours before clocking in at his day job.
What is so special about that? you may ask. Don’t all ministers make such sacrifices? Sadly, no.
Being a preachers’ daughter, a preacher’s sister-in-law, two preachers’ cousin, and a preachers’ niece, I’ve met a lot of pastors and evangelists in my life. I remember one who just shrugged when one of his female parishioners was having car trouble in the church parking lot. Mustn’t get our hands dirty. I’ve seen plenty more like him. Compare them to another old preacher I knew who cleaned an elderly member’s false teeth because her own son thought it was “gross.” Which preacher was the better witness? Which was more like Christ?
The point is, Andrew was an “unlikely sheep.” Many ministers wouldn’t have taken the time—certainly wouldn’t have gotten out of bed—to minister to a raging, drugged-out stranger. But my dad did.
And you would. I know you would. You understand Jesus’ call to be salt and light.
Long story short, Andrew and his wife, Abby, came into the fellowship. He kicked his drug habit, went to Bible school, and he and his wife became role models for other young people. Eventually, he moved away—to pastor his own congregation. Abby and Andrew are strong in Jesus to this day, and have raised up others who are strong in Jesus.
All because of one minister who built a church of unlikely sheep.
Never forget: Jesus didn’t choose aristocrats and millionaires to be disciples. He picked those who were rough around the edges, ill-tempered, flawed—unlikely sheep. And they changed the world.
One more story. Another great old preacher I know used to get regular phone calls from the local bar. Why? Because a drunk or two had passed out or gotten out of hand. “Can you do anything?” the bartender would ask.
The old preacher went, time after time. He’d pull those drunkards off the floor, sober them up, and give them Jesus, those unlikely old sheep. Who knows how many are in heaven today because of that preacher? The preacher with the spit-shined fingernails wouldn’t have dared to venture into such a place—not even to deliver a soul from hell. But the old, gray-haired preacher set aside any prudery, rolled up his sleeves, and rescued the perishing.
And you’d do the same. I know you would.
Article by writer and editor Renee Chavez.