For 30 years, I’ve been sharing my story with teenagers of how “a boy who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home wound up serving the Lord in full-time, vocational ministry.” The story always includes the following:
1. A friend of mine invited me to go to church with him.
2. The people at his church were the most loving people I’d ever met. That church was the embodiment of love. I wanted to live there.
3. After watching how much hope, truth, and purpose Christ was giving to me and everyone around me, I told my Youth Pastor (Jim Hardwicke) I felt like God was calling me to surrender my life to Him in ministry – whatever that may look like.
4. On July 15, 1980, at Youth Camp, I surrendered my life to the gospel ministry. My Music Pastor (Bob Griffin) told me, “Nick, if you can be happy doing anything else, God’s not called you.”
5. I can honestly say, even after 30 years, I don’t believe I could be truly happy doing anything else.
That entire story began with an invitation from a friend who loved me enough to invite me to go to church with him. That friend, who lived directly across the street from me, was Curtis Simpson. I mention his name every single time I tell this story because Jesus started this story by using the simple, loving invitation of Curtis. I always finish my story by telling students, “You never know the impact a simple invitation to church may have on a person. For me – it set in motion a lifetime of adventure with the risen Christ.”
I haven’t seen Curtis since 2000. This afternoon, guess who dropped by to see me. The mountain of a man in the photo here is my friend & brother, Curtis Simpson. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for inviting me to go to church with him. nw