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Stories from Underneath the Steeple


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This blog, and the companion book, is intended as a devotional tool for use over a 52 week period. It was originally prepared for use in 2013, and therefore is now complete. Most readings are undated, so you can read any post on any day. However, if you would like to start at the beginning, go to http://steeplestories.com/passed-out-of-death-into-life/.

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To Seek and To Save the Lost

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Luke 19:1-10


Joe Delaney was living a dream. After a very successful college football career, he was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the 1981 Rookie of the Year and played in the Pro Bowl (Professional Football’s version of the All-Star Game). In June 1983, while relaxing in a city park in Monroe, LA, Joe began to hear three young boys calling for help. These three young boys had gone for a swim in a pond that had been dug out for a construction project. Even though he had never learned to swim, Joe Delaney went in for those boys. He was able to save one, but the other two along with Joe all drowned. His tombstone reads, “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for another.”

Several years ago, in a sermon, I told that story of Joe Delaney. When the service was over, a man approached me with tears in his eyes. He said, “I knew Joe Delaney. I am from his hometown. He was my friend in grade school. We graduated from the same class. We played High School football together.” Then he paused and said, “Joe Delaney was the kind of guy who, even had he known he was going to die, he still would have gone in after those three boys.”

Though we all have gone where we should not have gone, Christ went to the cross for us. Would you allow Him to do in your life what He came to do: to save sinners? If you have allowed Him to save you, would you join Him in what He came to do—proclaim that message of salvation to all?

Perhaps, one of the most significant things about your story is that your story is still being written. Hopefully, the journey that you took while reading this book has caused your story to expand. If so, all glory to God! Keep telling your story! Keep telling God’s story!

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Abundant Life

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John 10:10


By the world’s standards, I was living the good life. I had a nice wife, a nice home, and a successful business. I was active in the community, serving on boards and doing volunteer work. Yet, I sensed something was missing. I kept striving for more and more, but nothing really changed about the way I felt. Then, after more than a decade of marriage, my wife and I were blessed with two daughters born two years apart. They became the joy of my life! I believe their birth was a turning point for me because I became more receptive to the Gospel. In the years before, I had attended church only occasionally with my wife, but now found myself wanting to go with them! I soon began to feel what I later learned was the “tug of the Holy Spirit.” It wasn’t until the pastor visited me at work one day that I surrendered my life to the Lord. I remember so vividly kneeling on my office floor with the pastor at my side, praying the sinner’s prayer. I asked for forgiveness for my sins and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Finally, at the age of 37, I began my spiritual journey, feeling whole and experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10:“. . .I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” After making my decision public the very next Sunday, many in that small church came up to tell me that they had been praying for me for a very long time.What a humbling experience it was for me!

I can truly tell you what an abundant life means, for I am living it today. It is not a life based on performance or possessions or position.It is a life of hope, peace, and joy that only Jesus can give.I have been privileged to be able to share my testimony with others over the years in the hope that they too will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and have the abundant life promised in John 10:10.

David Ross is married and the father of two grown children.  He enjoys sharing his faith each week during church-wide visitation.

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God’s Faithfulness

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Our daughter started college in Boston in August 2001. We attended orientation and met the director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Rev. Michael Dean.  Michael was appointed by the International Mission Board to work with Interantionals in Boston. One of his ancillary duties was working with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at her college.

We arrived home on September 7. Imagine our concern for our daughter as we watched the the 9/11 events unfold on television and radio a few days later. What was going to happen next? Why did we ever let her go so far away?

We prayed for her and all those affected by 9/11. We kept trying to call her and finally got through late in the day. We were very concerned about how the events had affected her. She said she was doing OK. She told us that she had eaten lunch with Michael. They talked and prayed. She also said that the lunch meeting with Michael had been set up before 9/11.

We were so grateful for Michaels counsel. It was not by chance that they planned their lunch meeting for that date. As we think back to that day, we were reminded of God’s faithfulness, and the many ways He answers our prayers.

Sam and Evelyn Bullard have been members of First Baptist Lafayette since the mid-seventies and are active in several aspects of the church media ministry.

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From Arsonist to Advocate

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Titus 3:14

As a young boy, I spent Sunday’s going to an early mass with my family and the rest of the day often laying on our crude cement patio and gazing across the street at the “Baptist people,” going into Calvary Baptist Church. Something in me caused me to dislike them. They were not Catholic.  Their religion was wrong. They were always friendly to our family. However, I did not like them.

My dislike turned into perverted hate in my teenage years. As a result, I would often vandalize the church. I would break into the church and destroy anything I could. Then, one day I had the idea of burning the church down and tried to do so three times. It would never catch on fire.

Years later, on that same crude cement patio where I often watched the “Baptist people,” my girlfriend revealed to me that she had become a Christian. I left for basic training a few weeks later and told my girlfriend she would “get over it.” Little did I know that she would not get over it; but I would.

God began to work on me while in basic training. However, I still resisted His pull. Upon return from basic training, I decided I would read the Bible and show my girlfriend that she was not better than me. While reading the Bible, I saw I was the one who was wrong. I fell to my knees and asked for forgiveness from Jesus. A few weeks later I was baptized into the fellowship of Calvary Baptist Church across the street where the “Baptist people” went to church.

Since that time God has brought me down many roads. My wife and I now have the privilege of serving as missionaries and advocates for the lost around the world. Instead of trying to burn churches down, I now try to build them up both physically and spiritually. I went from being an arsonist to serving as an advocate.

Pat Melancon is the Managing Director for Disaster Response and Training for Baptist Global Response. He serves many of the poor who are affected by disasters and tragedy in multiple countries around the world.

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Peace in the Form of a “Neon Sign”

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Philippians 4:6-7

My story represents a time in my life of needing great peace and confirmation about a decision. I asked God to speak; and He did!

As I attended college, the desire to share God’s love with others and live in another culture became the direction I knew God was leading me.  Three months after I graduated from college, I applied to be a missionary teacher in Tanzania, East Africa.

While in training, I struggled intensely with questions of doubt about my effectiveness, my ability to share Christ with others, and my fear of failure. I prayed for God to confirm to me that I was supposed to go to Tanzania. My exact words to God were “I need a neon sign from You telling me that Tanzania is what you have for me.”  I could not go with such unrest and doubt in my heart. 

Four days later, I struck up a conversation with a lady selling African musical instruments at an art exhibit in the Washington D.C. train station.  As I browsed the items on her table and spoke with her, I learned she was from Tanzania.  There was no hiding her disbelief when I excitedly reported that I was about to move there!  After more questions, it was revealed that I was teaching in the city in which she originated. She looked me squarely in the eyes and asked, “What is the name of the school?”  I told her, “Haven of Peace Academy.”  With tears in her eyes she softly said, “That is where my granddaughters go to school.  They tell me about this Jesus man and how much He loves me.”

Needless to say, my “neon sign” came in the form of Mary Louise, an art exhibitor traveling through Washington D.C.  When I arrived in Tanzania months later, I carried a note with me to Mary Lousie’s granddaughters from their grandmother.  The youngest granddaughter, Corliss, was in my class.  As the girls would not see their grandmother for at least another year, this experience allowed me to make fast friends with this family and to be awestruck in how truly big our God is and how His love and peace is so vast.


Monica Hornsby is the proud wife of Lucius and blessed to be Aaron’s mommy.  She is currently the Minister to Preschool at First Baptist Lafayette where she gets to hang out with some very cool little people!

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