When I was a boy, I was the most timid boy in the church.
When I was 17 years old, I weighed 92 pounds. I now weigh…I finally got your attention, didn’t I? I now weigh MORE than 92 pounds! (Once my doctor put me on a diet, and I gained 15 pounds on 1,000 calories a day. I wonder if it could be that 7,000 calories at night that caused the problem?)
On my 17th birthday I weighed 92 pounds and I was the most timid fellow in the church. They called me little Jackie-boy Hyles. I failed public speaking in high school. I could not make the ball team. I was too little to get a date. I didn’t get to be in the senior play. I was an introvert. Most of the people in my church had never heard me say a single word.
One Sunday after the morning service, one of the deacons, Jesse Cobb, said, “Hey, Jackie-boy. Would you like to go soulwinning with me this afternoon?”
I said, “Uh, J-J-Jesse, y-y-you know I c-c-couldn’t go soulwinning.” He said, “Jack, you won’t have to say anything, I just need a partner to give me some moral support. My partner is on vacation, and I just need someone to go with me. you won’t have to say a word.”
The first door we knocked on was the home of a high school football player named Kenneth Florence. Jesse Cobb was 5’4″ tall, and I was shorter yet. He must have weighed 120, and I weighed 92 pounds. The two of us put together might have weighed as much as Kenneth did.
When Kenneth came to the door, Jesse looked up and said, “Kenneth Florence, my name is Jesse Cobb and this is Jack Hyles.” Jesse said, “Kenneth, Jack here wants to say a few words to you.” No, Jack didn’t either! Kenneth looked at me and said, “Yes, what is it, Jack?” I said, “Uh … Uh… ahem… K-K-Kenneth, would you l-l-like to come to ch-ch-church tonight?” I do not remember what happened. Jesse told me later that Kenneth said, “Yes, I would,” and I said, “You would?” Jesse told me that I said, “I’ll come by and get you tonight at 7 o’clock.” And Kenneth said, “That will be fine.” That night at 7 o’clock I borrowed Jesse Cobb’s car and went over to get Kenneth Florence.
For the first time in my life, knew I had to win a soul. I had never won a soul in my life.
The sweat was rolling down my face, and I was trembling. When the invitation began, I put my arm across Kenneth’s big broad shoulders and said, “K-K-Kenneth, w-w-would you like to get s-s-saved?” And he said, “Yes, I would.” I said, ” I don’t know how to tell you, but follow me.” We walked down the aisle, and my pastor met us at the end of the aisle. I said, “B-B-Brother Sizemore, this is K-K-Kenneth Florence. He wants to get saved.”
I had done my part, so I started back to my seat. Brother Sizemore said, “Hold it, Jack!” I turned around. He said, “Kenneth, Jack wants to kneel here and show you how to get saved.” No I didn’t! He was a bigger liar than Jesse Cobb! I knelt at the front row. I said, “Kenneth, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve never done this before. But I want to see you saved.” I began to weep. Kenneth said, “Jack, I know how to be saved. I’ve heard it many times. Every Sunday afternoon for months, somebody from the church has come by. But you’re the first one that I ever thought really cared. I know how to do it.” I said, “Well… do it!”
Kenneth bowed his head and said something like the old prayer you’ve heard thousands of times, “Oh God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I now receive Jesus as my Saviour and trust Him to take me to Heaven when I die.” And while Kenneth Florence was getting saved, the fireworks of Heaven turned loose in my soul! I mean the sparklers sparkled, and the firecrackers banged, and the Roman candles soared through the sky. I jumped up and said, “Brother Sizemore, would it be okay with you if I just did this all the time from now on?”
We started a revival that night.
In the next 7 days, little introverted Jackie-boy Hyles that nobody took seriously brought 37 people down the aisle professing faith in Jesus Christ. God set something ablaze in my soul, and that something is still burning tonight.
When you tell me not to build a soulwinning church, you may as well tell a bird not to fly or a fish not to swim.
It’s a call from within.