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You can go home again

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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College Park Baptist Church sanctuary, Houston, Texas

Thomas Wolfe’s famous novel was wrong–you can go home again. I just spent an amazing weekend in Houston, Texas with the church who led me to Jesus.

College Park Baptist Church was founded in 1961. In 1973 they called a new young pastor from Alabama named Cecil Sewell. Dr. Sewell soon initiated a “bus ministry”–the church bought an old school bus, fixed it up, painted the church’s name on the side, and went out into the neighborhood knocking on doors to find people who would ride it to church. In August of that year that two men knocked on my apartment door, inviting my brother and me to their church. Dad thought we should have some religious exposure, so he promised the men we’d be ready for church the next morning. Mom made me wear a clip-on tie; I carried the family Bible under my arm.

I had never heard an organ except at a Houston Astros baseball game, and had never experienced a worship service. The entire event was surreal to me, but the people kept inviting us back. Eventually I began to sense that they had something I didn’t. Mrs. Sharon Sewell, the pastor’s wife, was our 10th grade Sunday school teacher. On September 9, 1973, I asked her how I could have what they had. She led me to place my faith in Jesus as my Savior. Six months later my brother, Mark, became a Christian. We were baptized together the next year. Dr. Mark Denison is today the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas.

Janet and her family eventually moved to Houston; friends invited them to College Park. She and I were married in the sanctuary (pictured at left) on June 7, 1980.

Last weekend, College Park celebrated its 50th anniversary. They invited Mark and me to join Dr. Sewell and other former pastors for the weekend. I was able to thank the Sewells and so many others for their part in leading me to Jesus. If the church had not come to me, I would never have come to them.

Over the weekend I realized that the Denison Forum is a bus ministry for our day. Using contemporary media, we can knock on the “doors” of those who wouldn’t come to church, engaging their issues with biblical truth. In many ways I am continuing the work that began in my life 38 years ago. I will be in heaven because of College Park Baptist Church. Here’s my question: who will be in heaven because of you?