He Didn’t Invite Her To Church

Leftist, Feminist Lesbian Professor Now A Pastor’s Wife

EDITOR'S NOTE: I published this story last year. This story transformed my evangelism mindset. I hope it blesses you and compels you, as it did me, to reevaluate your thoughts on and commitment to evangelism. Enjoy.

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radicalbutterfield unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.

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16 thoughts on “He Didn’t Invite Her To Church

  1. I watched the video with such interest because just yesterday, I visited a new church and heard very sweeping judgements about how homosexuals are dismantling the family in America. I didn’t hear anything after the minister said this. And it made me very, very sad. It made me sad because it confirms the way so many people feel about God and Christians when Christians say these kinds of things!

    I have been wanting to tell this minister that what he said was WRONG!! And maybe not because his beliefs are wrong, but because his approach and his word choice and his delivery are wrong! I appreciated the things that Rosaria said in her video…”the letter was kind and inquiring”, “inviting me to explore the Christians I admire,” “engaging,” “when he extended his hand in friendship, I felt it was safe to close my hand around his and accept.”

    I love how she says that the church she was attending prayed for her for 2 years before she was converted and actually left her homosexual relationship. 2 years!! Two years of fellowship and hospitality and compassion and conversations!!

    Too many Christians are afraid to be hospitable and compassionate and to have real conversations. Too many Christians are afraid of extending grace, afraid that somehow we are “excusing” sin in so doing.

    I pray we all learn from this minister’s approach. It’s the same approach Jesus used. We must invite, and engage, and challenge, and love.

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    • I’m sorry you had to listen to that pastor. You’re exactly right about how many folks who call themselves “Christians” treat people who do not conform to their narrow, legalistic and faulty knowledge of Jesus. I have some other blogs about homosexuality. I can send you links if you’d like. From what you are telling me (which I agree with) I think you would like them. If you email me at stevesawforhim@gmail.com I can send them to you. I’ve probably had more comments, positive and negative about my homosexual posts than any other topic. Or if you prefer, you can simply search the blog for “homosexual” or “homosexuality” you might find them that way. If it were me, I don’t think I would tell the pastor his approach was wrong. I think he might become defensive and turn the tables on me by justifying his position or trying to change mine. I don’t know the pastor, so I can’t know what he would do. I have prayed for you that God would show you the right path to take. At times like these for me, I always turn to Isaiah 30:21 — Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
      Thank you again for such a thoughtful, compassionate comment. I look forward to chatting with you more, especially after my posts go live again September 3. God bless.

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  2. @ MTSWEAT – “It’s so easy to just invite people to church, but I’m not sure it’s an effective way of getting people under the hearing of the gospel anymore”

    What’s really sad about your statement is that it is so true. Unfortunately, the Gospel is not preached in many (most?) churches anymore so therefore it is not always an effective way of getting people under the hearing of the Gospel.

    As for “friending” unbelievers…I do see value in that to a point. However, we are also warned to not have fellowship with the unbeliever. So, what is the dividing line between friendship and fellowship? I’m not sure. Obviously we live in the world and we have to interact with the world, but how far do we go in our relationships with the unbeliever? I suppose that is a question for smarter people than me to answer.

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    • Good question. I don’t know the answer. I think I might be wise, if I strike up such a friendship in the future, to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. I don’t know. That seems to be the best way. Most all of my friends and acquaintances I’d hang with are already believers. Although I have had friends who were non-believers before. The relationships really didn’t go very far, come to think of it.

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  3. You are right my friend. This is an awesome article. Do you think we’ve gone beyond the past method of inviting people to church in hopes of them hearing the gospel? What i mean by this is aren’t we to the point where we’re going to have to step beyond cultural, racial, even moral barriers… build relationships and teach the gospel? It’s so easy to just invite people to church, but I’m not sure it’s an effective way of getting people under the hearing of the gospel anymore. Is it possible that we’ve hidden ourselves behind the protective sanctuary walls of a building and forgot our commission? …to carry the healing, life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation! Very moving post my friend. Blessings.

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    • Yes, I do think we’ve gone past the point you mention. In fact, I believe the thoughts you have shared with me might be worth another post on the subject. Thank you for sharing. God bless.

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  4. This was wonderful! Thank you for sharing. We don’t need to barrel in like a train wreck but lead by example. God’s grace completes anything we might lead undone, we just need to be HIS vessels. Love your blog more and more!

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    • Thank you, Di, I enjoyed reading her story very much. And it confirmed for me the need all Christ followers have to cultivate friendships with non believers. God bless and thank you for your wonderful encouraging comments.

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  5. This is awesome!! I love how God can change anyone! No one is without hope! The pastor and his wife are great examples of what Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 5:14-16:

    “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging story! Blessings to you:)

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  6. This conversion is as radical and dramatic as the conversion of Karla Faye Tucker. When I see stories like this it drives home to me just how powerful the Gospel of Jesus Christ is.

    If we want to reach a lost and dying world for Christ, we must learn how to build relationships over time in a godly yet non-threatening manner. We also must understand that we are NOT called to save anyone, all we are called to do is proclaim the Gospel and live out the Gospel daily in our lives. We also must get over this idea that we are the only thing standing between the lost and salvation. The reality is that we are just one of the many cogs in the mechanism of the lost coming to salvation. God may or may not use us to lead someone to the Lord. Whether He uses us or someone else in the chain of salvation, the work that will be accomplished will be accomplished solely by the Holy Spirit. It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    Well done Steve!

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    • What an awesome word. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, heart-felt comments. We need to build relationships and become friends with those who are seeking answers. God bless you.

      Like

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