Reaching the World
Where Have You Been?
I've Been Waiting for You!
Dr. James Wilkins served God for many years as a pastor, evangelist, soulwinner and author from Espanola, New Mexico.
It was in the mid-sixties and I was privileged to be an evangelist in a revival where 400-500 people were saved and came down the aisle at the Bethel Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Roy Westmoreland was the pastor in those days, and Laverne, his wife, was not only a wonderful wife and mother, but also one of the greatest soulwinners I’ve ever known. We would often tease, “Verne wins them and Roy baptizes them.” The truth of the matter was that they were a perfect team. Both were humble servants of God that He used to win thousands to the Lord.
After two weeks of intensive efforts, often going both day and night, I was tired. Through ministering to the students in the college, Christian high and grammar schools, I had preached or taught between forty and fifty times. We had been out soul-winning both morning and afternoon every day. Four or five times after the close of the service, we would be invited to meet with people and lead them to Christ.
I was so tired. I inwardly thought I had done enough. I wanted to rest and prepare for the big service planned for that evening (Saturday) and for the full day of preaching and our final day of the revival on Sunday. But I felt uneasy and restless.
One of the young preachers had invited me to knock on a few doors with him out on the bus route. I had previously declined, but I didn’t feel right about it. He had left his phone number, and as I glanced at the clock, I realized that I could still catch him. After I dialed his phone number and he told me he would be right by to pick me up, I felt a peace come over me.
We were soon out on the bus route and were in an apartment complex. Since another worker was with him, I took one side of the apartments and they started knocking on doors in another part. I did not pay any attention coming out there, and did not have the slightest idea where we were.
I HAD NEVER BEEN SO STARTLED!
After knocking on doors for a few minutes, I came to the last door. I knocked, but although I thought I heard someone inside, no one came to the door. I knocked a little louder. Still no one responded. I knocked on the door with a firmer knock, ready to accept the fact that, either no one was at home, or they weren’t going to come to the door. I prepared to leave and was in the midst of my effort to squeeze the revival flyer into the crack between the door and frame, when the door abruptly opened! It startled me!
A booming voice demanded, “What do you want?”
I was speechless. I stared in unbelief. I was brought back to my senses by the booming voice, which repeated, “I said, what do you want?”
I answered by stuttering, “I - I - I came by to tell you ---- tell you how --- how you can see ---”
The same booming voice interrupted my stuttering by asking, “Are you making fun of me? Can’t you see I’m blind?”
I began to recover from the shock that had left me speechless. This was a big giant of a man --- I later learned that “Big Ben” was six feet eight inches tall and weighed well over 300 pounds --- and he was blind. He wasn’t just blind, he did not have any eyeballs in his eye-sockets. I had never seen anything like that before --- the blood red emptiness where his eyes should have been.
Again Big Ben repeated his question, “Can’t you see I am blind?”
I tried to cover up my shocked response by saying, “I came to tell you how you can see --- spiritually.”
As soon as those words left my mouth, Big Ben’s hand took hold of my arm with the firmness of a steel vice and pulled me through the door. As he did so, he said, “Good, I’ve been waiting for you. What took you so long to get here?”
He firmly led me across his living area to the kitchen table and commanded me, “Sit down!” I complied. I introduced myself and asked what his name was. He responded, “My name is Ben. Friends call me Big Ben.”
My mind was working better now, but I couldn’t keep from asking Ben about his blindness. “How did you become blind, Ben?” I asked.
“I gouged them out myself,” Ben answered as he placed both of his thumbs up near his eyes and gave an outward motion with his thumbs.
Again, my startled response was, “You what?”
Big Ben replied again, “I gouged them out myself,” and gave that terrible motion with his thumbs once again.
In my emotional state I just uttered, “Why? Why on earth would you do that?”
“I didn’t want to go to hell, that’s why,” he answered.
“You didn’t want to go to hell...” I repeated, as if I had a hearing problem.
“No, I didn’t want to go to hell,” he repeated. “I had a scripture ringing in my ears ... if your eyes offend you, pluck them out. It would be better to gouge your eyes out and be blind than to go to hell with two good eyes...” Then a sadness came over Big Ben. “But it didn’t help. I’m still going to hell, but now... (I can’t express the sadness in his voice) “but now, I’m still going to hell, but I live in a world of total blackness.”
I was startled once again, this time by a big black and white cat. In an almost tentative way the cat went to the chair where Big Ben was sitting. He reared up on his hind feet, as if to get into his master’s lap.
“Get down, Samson,” Ben said as he pushed the cat away. I glanced down and saw the white glaze over the cat’s eyes, recognizing that Samson was blind also. There was a tenderness in Ben’s voice as he said, almost as if the cat were human, “I’ve had him for twelve years, and he is the only one in the world that loves me.”
I couldn’t help reaching out and touching that giant of a man on his arm and saying, “Ben, God saved me and sent me here to tell you that he loves you, and to help you receive your sight.”
He replied to me, “I’ve been anxiously waiting every day --- God told me while I was in the hospital that he would send someone. What took you so long?”
I began to explain the four spiritual principles that govern our eternal destiny.
Ben acknowledged that he was a sinner and agreed with Romans 3:23 that he had sinned and come short, (“In every way,” Big Ben said) of the glory or standard of God.
He volunteered that, “Now that I have gouged out my eyes I am living in a world of blackness waiting to go to hell and pay for my sins.” During that time, he explained that he had heard a sermon over the radio that if your eyes were leading you astray, that it would be better to be blind and go to Heaven than have two good eyes and go to hell.
One night, while under the influence of drugs, he kept hearing voices repeating over and over again in his head, “Better be blind and go to Heaven than to have two good eyes and go to hell.” Each time he would say that, he would go through the horrible motions with his thumbs again.
I explained Romans 5:8 and began to show Ben that Jesus loved him so much that He took all of his sins upon Himself and died in Big Ben’s place as his Substitute, thus paying for Ben’s sins. “Jesus paid for your sins so God could forgive you, Ben, if you would only ask Him.”
Before I finished explaining Romans 10:13, that whosoever calls upon His name shall be saved, Big Ben was climbing out of his chair and falling down upon his knees. Ben seemed to take me literally as he confessed sin after sin. Then, when the spiritual light of the love of God began to brighten the darkness of Ben’s heart, he began to weep for joy. He would weep and praise the Lord all at the same time.
As I explained I John 5:10-13 to Big Ben and repeated, that since he had accepted Jesus as his Saviour and now had the witness in his heart, he could say with certainty, “I know that I NOW HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.” It was so real to him, and he was so firm in his declaration, it seemed that God had given extra illumination to Big Ben’s soul.
Big Ben got the happiest when he understood that the next face he would see would be the face of his Saviour. After a short time of rejoicing with Ben, I left his apartment with the joy of knowing that God had sent me and used me as an answer to Big Ben’s heart cry.
But the earlier sadness in his voice struck a chord in my heart that I never will forget. “I’ve been waiting for you! What took you so long to come?”
I can hardly keep from weeping as I think of the thousands of Big Bens who are spiritually blind and waiting for someone to come and knock on their door. Can’t you hear their souls crying out to you?
Listen carefully --- “I’m waiting for you! What’s taking you so long?”