What to do with those tickets?
That was the question on Lynn Claridge’s mind. It was the summer of 1984, Lynn and husband Brian were living in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, and Brian brought home two tickets for a Billy Graham Crusade at BC Place Stadium.
The Claridges believed in God and attended a liberal, non-evangelical church. Neither had a relationship with Jesus Christ.
So when a Christian co- worker gave Brian the Crusade tickets, Lynn told him she wasn’t into that kind of thing. So he left the tickets on the table.
“That meant every time I walked past the table, I saw them,” Lynn said. “Even though I didn’t know it, I guess it was the Holy Spirit telling us we had to go.”
And go they did. When Billy Graham invited people to come forward and give their lives to Christ, Lynn stood up.
“Brian asked what I was doing and I said, ‘Brian, I think we have to give our lives to Jesus.’ He said, ‘I think you’re right,’ and both of us went forward.”
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Unable to keep this Good News to themselves, they invited their pastor to visit. When he arrived at their home and they revealed what happened at BC Place, they could tell he wasn’t comfortable with what he was hearing.
He said, “If you want evangelical teaching, you’re not going to get it at my church.”
The pastor suggested another church and after just one visit, the Claridges became members of that congregation. They started hosting Bible studies and making friends with other evangelical Christians.
“It was a 180-degree turn from how we had lived and thought,” Brian said. Although he was raised in a Christian home, he had abandoned any notion of faith in Christ during his teenage years. Lynn’s family had not been Christians but had taken her to Sunday school.
Brian admitted that before the Vancouver Crusade, his priorities were all wrong.
“I made golf my personal god until I gave my life to Christ,” he said. “These days, I like to tell other golfers that story while we’re on a long par-5 hole, so they have time to think about it.”
Brian’s love for golf above all else meant that before the 1984 Crusade, love was lacking in his marriage.
“When we realized through Christ what love really is, we wanted that love,” he said. “So there was a lot of forgiveness between my wife and me.”
Today the Claridges are retired and still walking boldly in their faith. They are quietly introducing their non-Christian friends to a loving God who cares so much for them that He offers them the gift of His Son.
In several cases, God has worked through them to bring others to Christ. On one occasion, before she retired, Lynn was at an Avon cosmetics house party with coworkers when she saw a colleague standing on her own. Responding to the Holy Spirit’s leading, she went over and started a conversation with the woman, who was known to be a loner.
“She knew I was a Christian and asked me all kinds of things about Christianity,” Lynn recalled. “I told her this faith is such a simple thing, and she said she was getting goose bumps listening to me. So I led her in the sinner’s prayer.”
Lynn noticed the woman seemed happier at work and was able to get involved in conversations and began joining the rest of the employees at coffee breaks.
After retiring, Brian became golfing buddies with a retired firefighter. The relationship lasted until 2001, when Brian received stunning news: his friend’s health had suddenly deteriorated to the point where he was dying.
“Up to that point in time, he wanted nothing to do with my little golf course sermons,” Brian said. He and Lynn drove to the hospital, and while they walked through the parking lot, Brian asked God to give him an opportunity to witness to his friend.
“My friend couldn’t speak, so I told him to nod his answers. I asked if he wanted to give his life to Christ. He nodded, so I led him in the sinner’s prayer and he had the biggest smile on his face.” With his heavenly destination confirmed, the retired firefighter died less than a week later.
“When Lynn and I left the hospital that day, I thought this is unreal because going in, I had no game plan,” Brian recalled.
In fact, Brian believes he really had nothing to do with either conversion.
“Both times, I went in having no idea what was going to happen,” he said. “I was sort of walking in a daze when I saw how God works with people who are willing to be led by Him.”
As he reflects on how God has used him and Lynn, Brian feels called to encourage other believers.
“When people become born again, I would think they just can’t wait to share it the way Billy Graham shared his faith with Lynn and me. But so often the devil says ‘You can’t do that. Who do you think you are?’ I recommend praying to God to get over this human fear. You’ll be given the words you need for that person you love and care for. You have to take that leap of faith.”
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