Better Late Than Never

Title: Better Late Than Never
Category: Evangelism Issues
Subject: Evangelism
Better Late Than Never!

In September 1993, at the conclusion of my first sermon as pastor of Creola First Baptist Church, Creola, Alabama, a woman greeted me at the door and made a rather curious inquiry. She asked, "Can you baptize a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-fifty pound man?" To which I replied, "I'll do the best I can." She later admitted that she was halfway joking and halfway serious.

Gaines Ollie Allen, Jr. was born to Gaines O. Allen, Sr. and Nancy Loper Allen on October 22, 1944. His grandfather nicknamed him "Jabo," and that name stuck with him down through the years. "Jabo" grew up with a Christian influence in his home and his mother made sure that he went to church regularly. In fact, he recalls that he went to church all of his life. Gaines Ollie Allen, Jr. and Mildred Ann Busby were married on February 2, 1968.

"Jabo" worked at Scott Paper Company (now Kimberly-Clark) in Mobile, Alabama, for 32 years until he retired in 1999. He opted for an early retirement due to a corporate decision to close his department and to phase out his particular job at the pulp mill. In his retirement he stays very busy and he enjoys the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.

One evening, shortly after his retirement, as he watched a Billy Graham Crusade on television, "Jabo" faced the fact that he would spend eternity in heaven or hell and he was certain that he did not want to go to hell. Dr. Graham''s message deeply moved him. On that same evening in 1999 at age 55, Gaines O. Allen, Jr. asked the Lord Jesus Christ to come into his heart. He prayed the sinner's prayer led by Dr. Graham at the end of the service.

A short while later his wife Mildred, began to notice changes in "Jabo" and asked him if he had asked the Lord to come into his heart. He shared his life changing decision with her. Immediately, some great changes began to take place in Gaines' life, for example, he quit smoking after 35 years. He refers to his wife, Mildred, and daughter, Lisa, as his "spiritual advisors," because they had always pointed him in the Lord's direction and frequently expressed a concern for his soul.

Lisa, who was born again in November of 1981, remembers her mother having devotions with she and her brother, Jeffrey in her parent's bedroom. She also recalls the fact that they prayed specifically at those times for Gaines' salvation. Lisa also shared that every time a deacon or preacher came to their home to talk with her dad, she would get away and pray for her dad's salvation the whole time they were visiting.

A few months after the death of her maternal grandfather, Mr. Hiram Busby, in January of 1994, Lisa asked my assistance in drafting a letter to her dad expressing her concern for his eternal destination.

In late February of 2002, my wife, Sharon, and I felt led to visit with Gaines and to ask where he stood with the Lord. On that afternoon, he shared how he had asked Jesus to save him after watching Billy Graham on television in 1999. After he shared his testimony, I asked him if he would like to follow the Lord in believer's baptism and he said that he would. On March 10, 2002, Gaines Allen walked the aisle and made a public profession of faith expressing his desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in believer's baptism. I had the wonderful privilege of baptizing a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-fifty pound man the following Sunday evening.

"Jabo" has often expressed his appreciation to Sharon and me for visiting in his home and for giving him a push in the direction of making his decision public.
Gaines Allen, Jr. is now an active member of Creola First Baptist Church in Creola, Alabama (near Mobile, Alabama). The Lord continues to make changes in his life as he seeks to grow as a Christian each day.

Reflecting on his life, Gaines forthrightly admitted to me that a Country-Western song titled "Always Late" could describe his movement toward the Lord; to which he was quick to add, "better late than never!"