Duane & Iris Blue recount 'freedom' found in Christ

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--Duane and Iris Blue do not claim to be preachers, just "satisfied customers."

Those two "satisfied customers," now volunteers with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board's Mission Service Corps, have touched hearts and lives all over the world with a testimony of God's goodness and love.

The Blues brought their message to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 19, encouraging a chapel audience to reach out to those who have never heard the gospel.

Iris Blue was raised in a Baptist church, "walking the aisle" as a young girl because the pastor preached on the reality of hell.

"I didn't want to go to hell then, and I haven't changed my mind since," she said. "But I didn't meet Jesus."

She ran away from home at age 13, getting caught up in a life of alcohol and drugs. She served seven years in prison for an armed robbery conviction, but even that did not turn her around.

Iris had struggled all her life with her self-image, whether from weight problems or promiscuity. When a young man told her Jesus wanted her as she was and wanted to turn her into a lady, she accepted the Savior.

"Some people think a good testimony is how bad you've messed up," she said. "A real testimony is how good [Jesus] is, and he set me free."

God later used Iris to lead her future husband to Christ. Duane was 33 years old, having never learned to read and living out of a school bus.

Iris' brother, who worked with Duane on a construction site, invited him to their home for Christmas dinner. Duane went, planning to get high on drugs and steal whatever he could. Instead, he heard the gospel and struck up a friendship with Iris that resulted in hours of long-distance phone calls, with her telling Duane about how Jesus wanted to set him free.

"I thought freedom was doing whatever I wanted to do," he said. "I didn't know freedom was doing what's right."

Duane accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, then immediately quit his job on the construction site. He stopped at the first church he found and literally followed the dumbstruck pastor around for two days.

Duane challenged the chapel students to reach out to those who, like him, didn't grow up with the gospel and didn't know how to "act" in church.

"I'm not educated, I'm changed," he said. "What are you?"

The Blues now make their home in Woodstock, Ga., and attend First Baptist Church of Woodstock. Their 14-year-old son, Denim, often travels with them.

Iris is the longest-serving volunteer with the Mission Service Corps, as the Blues seek to challenge members of America's churches to begin living out the effect of their salvation.

"If there ain't no effect," Duane said, "there ain't no change."

(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DUANE BLUE and IRIS BLUE.

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