Invitation to church puts K.J. on path to a life-changing prayer
MOORE, Okla. (BP) -- When Kelly "K.J." Williams, 32, was invited by a friend to join him in church, Williams didn't know that the pastor had specifically prayed that morning, "Lord, put someone in my path with whom I can share Jesus today."
In introducing himself to Williams after the worship service, pastor Bobby Shatto of First Baptist Church in Maud, Okla., recounts, "I could tell that K.J. had some things going on in his life. I felt that he was looking for someone who would really care about him."
Williams was struggling with several issues in his life at the time. Along with health problems from a car accident, "I wasn't happy at work. I wasn't where I wanted to be as far as my marriage was concerned."
Williams had attended church with his parents while growing up in Moore, Okla. Looking back on those years, "I thought I had a pretty good relationship with God but I also felt I didn't really understand things."
By the time Williams was in college, being with his friends had become more important than attending church. "I separated myself from the church," he says, "but I never quit believing in God."
However, even that belief was severely tested when his grandfather died. "My grandfather had always been the spiritual leader in our family," Williams says. "After he died, I began to doubt God. I kept asking Him why."
Describing the bond he felt with Shatto in meeting him for the first time, Williams says, "Pastor Bobby knew I needed somebody, and I knew he wanted to be there for me."
At the pastor's invitation, Williams began attending a men's Bible study on Thursday evenings. Each week, Shatto used a different story from the Bible along with discussion questions to show how the characters or the events in Scripture had meaning in the men's everyday lives.
The Bible stories spoke to Williams' heart, and he often lingered afterward to discuss his own spiritual needs with the pastor. "He explained things to me from the Bible, things I never really understood before," Williams says.
As the relationship grew, Shatto knew that Williams needed to have hope for his life; he needed to find the reason he was put here on earth.
"Every person feels incomplete," the pastor explains. "They know there's something missing, and they try to fill that spot with all kinds of things. K.J. ... was looking for something to fit into his heart, and I knew the perfect fit was Jesus."
"One day," Williams remembers, "the pastor asked me if I was ready to make the decision to turn my life over to Christ and to accept Him as my Savior."
When Williams said he was ready to commit his life to Christ, Shatto asked him to read Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The verse helped Williams to acknowledge he was a sinner.
Shatto then asked Williams turn to John 3:3 and John 14:6. Using these verses, the pastor explained that being born again means accepting Jesus as the only way to be made right with God.
From there, Williams read Romans 10:9-10, 13: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
After reading the Scriptures, Williams asked the Lord to forgive him of his sins, to come into his heart and to change his life.
Following his conversion experience, Williams was baptized by Shatto. Williams and his wife Meghan have since become active members of Emmaus Baptist Church in Moore.
Williams' favorite verse in the Bible is Romans 5:8: "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This verse is important to him, he says, because "I've learned if God is able to forgive me of my sins, I can also forgive myself."
Williams continues a routine he began when he made his commitment to Christ. He gets up each morning at 4:30 to have time alone with the Lord. He reads from a devotional book, has prayer and reads a portion of Scripture.
Coming to know the Lord has "helped my marriage," Williams says. "It has made me a better father and a better husband." His decision also has changed his relationships with others. "My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life now. If my relationship with God is right, then my relationship with the people around me is going to be right."
And Williams believes sharing his faith with his friends is an essential part of living for Christ, saying, "I heard the Gospel from a friend, and now I want to share what I've experienced with my friends."
Luana Ehrlich is a writer in Norman, Okla. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).