When you recognize your need, there will be no doubt about it
"What's that noise,
"Kid, those are mine cables scraping along the hull."
a young man, I became acutely aware of my need for a savior while serving aboard a submarine engaged in operations against
the enemy. I recall at the time praying, "God, if you are real, save me [from
my current predicament]. If you do, I will go to church every Sunday for the
rest of my life."
I know; God is not in the habit of making deals, but that was the extent of my understanding at the time.]
do not know how He did it, but I survived and made it back home in one piece.
for us in port was a new crewmember named James Martin. Jim was a tall,
olive-skinned Texan (or was it Arizonian?). After Jim had been aboard for a few
days at sea, it was clear that he exuded something from every pore--something from God and something I knew I needed. He was very quiet, very soft-spoken, never got angry (that I could tell), and yet
displayed a peace and strength that seemed to calm everyone in his presence. Honestly,
he even had a twinkle in his eye. I was drawn to his presence and yet feared
his company, knowing that my lifestyle and behavior would not meet his approval. Despite
my reservations, I could not stay away.
and I often stood watches together. [I have to confess: I made every effort to
arrange my watch standing rotation to make sure that this happened.] I was hungry
for answers, but I did not want to seem so. I would always ask a question of
Jim concerning God, right vs. wrong, God's expectations of me, science versus the Bible, etc. using what I believed to be
my best semi-interested, small talk-like tone and he would always answer the same way.
He would pause for some time--apparently in reflection--and then, with that twinkle in his eye, smile, and tell me
where I could find the answer in the Bible. He even provided a Bible for me to
time, as I finished my duties, I would crawl into my bunk, pull out that Bible from its storage place immediately inboard
of #3 torpedo tube, find his reference, and sure enough, the answer to my question would be there waiting for me.
pattern went on for some time as our days at sea stretched longer. I became increasingly
convinced that the Bible held the answers to all of life's questions--certainly all of mine.
Little did I know that Jim was carefully steering me to scriptures that would also bring me closer to an understanding
of the Gospel.
one amazing 'ah-ha' moment while studying and reflecting on the references that Jim had provided, I got back up from my rack
and went to find Jim. I found him reading his Bible in a small, little used room
in the bowels of the boat. As he sat in the only chair and I sat on a stack of
manuals, I confronted him with what appeared (to me) to be a miraculous discovery--that salvation was not accomplished by
how I behaved!
do not know how long we stayed there and discussed salvation and read verses. I
cannot even tell you the day of the week or even if it was night or day--it is immaterial under the water. Nevertheless, Jim, with that ever-present twinkle in his eye, rounded out the remaining rough edges to
my understanding and led me to trust in the Lord as God's solution to my sin problem.
I eventually returned to my bunk for a little rest before the next watch rotation, but I'm pretty sure I didn't sleep
remember returning home from sea shortly after that and sharing with my wife what had transpired, the verses James and
I discussed, and she too trusted in Christ as her savior.
as magically as he had appeared, Jim was gone, transferred to another boat or duty station and, I have no doubt, to another
The studying years
spent the remaining four years of my Navy experience on that boat studying the Bible.
Sure, there were more of the same type of missions, but Ps.56:3 was never far from memory and fear was never a factor
again. Although a poor example of a Christian (and by most accounts--particularly
mine--I still am), I did learn a bit while studying at sea. God used that time
to ground me in the basic doctrines of His Word and to this day I am convinced that either God showed me these truths or the
devil did, because no one else showed any interest.
The search for a church
being discharged from the service I relocated to a job in the southeastern U.S. and began searching for a church that believed
in: (1) salvation by grace, and, (2) the authority of Scripture. I was naive
and had much to learn, but decades of experience in many local church pews has taught me the following:
church leaders leave the impression that their degree in Biblical studies, or position in the church means that God has given
them a little more Holy Spirit than He has given the 'average' believer.
is frequently used as a cover for increasing the church membership roles.
often, personal opinion, church by-laws, the latest fad author or movement, Bible college curricula, favorite Bible college
professors, etc. are substituted for scripture as the final authority in all
matters of faith and practice.
summary, it may be said that nearly all churches today suffer from the same Gnostic influences as the early church. I was naive to expect today's church to be any improvement over the early church, or that Satan was no
longer at work undermining churches.
experiences have not diminished my view of the importance of Christian fellowship within the context of a local body of believers. However, over the years I have shifted my reliance away from the local church infrastructure
as a means to accomplish the great commission and towards the position that it is the personal responsibility of every believer
to be involved in the salvation and growth of others.
The ministry begins
first step in that direction occurred with the formation of a prison ministry at a receiving and evaluation unit of the state
prison system. Despite the total lack of formal biblical education, Workman Ministries
was successfully used by God to save enough inmates to fill a two-story cellblock the first year. By the second year, word had begun to spread so that inmates were frequently familiar with Workman
Ministries through tracts and discussions before I met them. Rather than make
my job easier, though, it increased the demand on my time considerably as more people sought answers the same way that I had
sought answers from Jim.
of the role of that particular prison unit, the inmates were expected to stay only a month before being transferred to another
facility. Past murderers, rapists, alcoholics, and drug users who were now new
believers stayed only a short time before being transferred. I was confident
that God could provide for their future growth, but as the number of converts began to swell in the second year I became convicted
that there was more that needed to be done and more than I could handle alone.
Ministries makes its first growth spurt
Browning, a man with a heart of gold, then joined to make it a team effort. In
addition, it was then that Workman ministries also began to produce topical study materials using nearly one thousand pages
of notes built up during the submarine years and after. Although the effort was
aimed at edifying the prison converts, the materials also received some attention outside the prison within the local
community. While some of the attention took the form of negative criticism (primarily
from churches that taught works for salvation and from Bible college students who thought that 'lay' members hadn't been properly
trained for ministry work) the materials did find a niche among believers who felt as I did--that Christian growth was, first
and foremost, a function of the Holy Spirit (and who didn't mind occasional spelling and grammar errors).
are these materials intended to be used?
materials consist of topical studies ranging from scriptural doctrines to religious cults to personal insights. The materials cover the basics of the topic and, frequently, the routine arguments for, or against, the
positions held. The studies are not exhaustive and you are certainly encouraged
to study the topics further.
if the reader has questions, ideas, comments, or even complaints?
As always, I welcome all comments, suggestions, reasonable requests, even mail from people who do not agree with the
materials (after all, you don't answer to me for what you believe). I am well
aware that no ministry, including this one, is omniscient and under God's guidance all the time. Much has been and will continue to be gained through constructive criticism. Consider this an open invitation to such criticism.
A special note to Christians
one ever said it was easy to share the Gospel. However, I would like to encourage you by what I learned about my
salvation experience. God doesn't leave you on a long lease to accomplish His work. While you are enjoying fellowship
with Him, He is right there next to you, guiding your every step. When the Holy Spirit has successfully prepared someone
to hear the Gospel, then God will use you to meet that need. Despite all the trappings of the daily life that make it difficult
to hear that still, small voice, He is always alongside to comfort and guide you. No, God
isn't watching from afar when you witness; He is right there with His arms wrapped around both of you.
do I know?
Jim Martin experienced the same difficulties that we all have when we witness, but if you asked us each what we experienced
I'm sure it would go something like this:
While Jim prayerfully considered which verse to share--I saw only
When he agonized over his own sin and
his worthiness to act on behalf of God--I saw only Jesus.
While he struggled to discern when to push and when to stop, I was oblivious to it all--seeing
about that next time you feel led to share the Gospel, won't you?
Your servant in Christ,
No, I did not go to church every Sunday as I had promised God. I am just
glad that God knew more than I did about my needs.
About Jim Martin. No amount
of thanks will be sufficient for his willingness to act in accordance with God's will.
Moreover, that was not a twinkle in his eye. I now know I was seeing a
tear of joy each time Jim saw me draw a little closer to God. Sure, I know it
was God working through him, but he had to make himself available. So, Jim, if
I never again see you this side of heaven, thank you, thank you again for being there. [And thank God for sending
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