During the late 60s and early 70s I was a young man who followed the Lord and engaged in both a busy working life and elite sport. Yet, the most exciting part of my life at that time, was reading and hearing stories of ordinary people finding eternal Salvation in Jesus Christ.
My local church was the Port Kembla Baptist Church where we regularly had guest "missionary" speakers who relayed the most enthralling stories of those under their spiritual charge coming to personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Moreover, I was an avid reader of books by missionaries and how they related time and again, how the Spirit of the Lord touched people's lives as they presented the Salvation message of Jesus Christ.
These were very fulfilling youthful years as I dreamed of a future not so much of work or sporting success (although they came to me in some measure through committed dedication to the task), but rather how the Lord Jesus might use my life in similar ways to these wonderful stories I enjoyed as my constant diet of religious books.
One book I enjoyed immensely in this period was of 5 great Christian leaders of the 17th century, people like preacher William Grimshaw who went to one English village with a wheeled cart and the people, who had never seen such a vehicle, bought out hay to feed it.
Another was of an African SIM doctor missionary who through his medical knowledge and service to the Lord, changed for the better thousands upon thousands of lives both physically and through his missionary endeavours, their eternal destination.
One of the elderly ladies I visited in those years was widow (now late) Sylvia Hall who, with her late husband Dick, had been an Open Air Campaigner for 20 years. The remarkable stories that were recounted over a coffee were simply spell-binding and they inspired me to seek the Lord as to my life and destiny.
In those years as a sporting person I would often wonder why our Australian professional sports did not have Christian pastors serving as team chaplains, as was common in the top sports teams in the USA.
I questioned in my heart why Heads of Churches had not sought out such appointments, not realising that the Lord would call me to this task and establish our own faith financed mission in this endeavour.
Throughout my Christian life I've enjoyed reading these Salvation stories and sometimes under very unique circumstances the Lord brings to notice remarkable Salvation experiences.
A recent one was the Chilean mine disaster of 2010 where many of the miners gave their lives to Jesus Christ and months later visited the Holy Land to witness several baptisms in the Jordan River.
In our own ministry we have not only individual people respond to Jesus' Salvation, but also entire families. It is a joy unbounded as God's Spirit touched their lives.
In 2011 at the young writers annual conference one of the young writers testified how Delma’s and my ministry led her to the Salvation of Jesus Christ. Their story was one of returning to Australia with a new baby and their accommodation falling apart. They rang us and we were able to house them immediately with us and then fix them with long term accommodation the next day.
Salvation stories are entwined to 1 John 5 verse 13: " .. that you may know that you have eternal life .."
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html