Della Acree-Murry of the Anaheim church of Christ has known her neighbor Frank Padilla, since 1977 when he was in middle school. Earlier this year Frank was baptized into Christ becoming a Christian (Galatians 3:26,27)! Following is a quote from Della summarizing the story…
“We only had a passing ‘friendship.’ He joined the Army, formed a band and had many gigs. He had 2 children. I saw very little of him for many years. Last year his MS returned with a vengeance. I asked him if he’d like to have a bible study and I was thrilled when he said YES. He was raised/baptized in the Catholic Church. He has been upset with the Catholic Church for years.
He is very receptive to the Bible (I bought him a bible) and God’s commands. We have been studying for 7 months. He was baptized in Feb. at the Anaheim Church of Christ. His speech is slurred….he can’t walk and falls often. He can’t use his hands to tie his shoes, write, etc. He finally got a wheel chair from the VA. It seems like his disease is progressing very fast. BUT he still wants to meet every Sat. to have Bible study which is every encouraging. Prayers for Frank are requested.”
Della and Frank’s story is one of seeing the souls of our neighbors and long term acquaintances. Some things about their story remain unknown- If and how much Della had talked to Frank about the Lord before this. If she had ever directly invited him to personal Bible study before. How long they lived by each other as adult neighbors.
Though there remain unknowns about their interaction, what is known is paramount – Della took the initiative to invite her neighbor and thirty-eight year acquaintance to study the Bible, he accepted, obeyed what he studied and now stands in a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
Frank already had religion, though dissatisfied with it (Catholicism) and hadn’t in the last thirty-eight years sought Della out to ask her for the reason for the hope within her (1 Peter 3:15), so why invite him to study the Bible?
- Because for people to gain eternal life and escape eternal torment, they need more than religion, they need obedience faith to the truth of God (Matthew 7:21-23)
- Because God does not desire for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
- Because it is our mission as Christians to proclaim the excellencies of God (1 Peter 2:9)
- Because people must know God and obey the gospel to be saved (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
- Because obedience to the gospel does not come through sacramental observances or a personal prayer of faith inviting Jesus into our hearts, but instead through faith filled submission to God in Jesus name in baptism (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Colossians 2:11-14; 1 Peter 3:21)
- Because Frank was a part of the world Della lived in (Matthew 28:18-20).
How long have you known the people in your life? Do you see their souls? Invite them again to learn of the joy of salvation that awaits their study of the scriptures to the obedience of the gospel.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What presents me from being baptized?’…And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:35-39