WILSON, MI—Life-changing decisions take time. Al and Angel Nelson, and their sons, Justin and Anthony Cary, were recently baptized as the result of six years of study, growth, and mentorship.
In 2016, the Nelsons attended a prophecy seminar held by Jacob Gibbs in Escanaba, driving all the way from Wilson. They had lingering questions when the meetings ended so Gibbs invited them to his small group and began studying with them every Monday.
After the series, the Nelsons continued to attend the Bethlehem Covenant Church on Sundays, and attend church on Sabbath in Escanaba. “We went to church two times a week for about a year,” says Angel. She was a Sunday school teacher and a deaconess, and Al was treasurer. However, in December 2015, they realized that they couldn’t keep attending both churches. “We couldn’t teach these things in Sunday school anymore,” Nelson says. They told their pastor of their decision to leave, and in 2016, they began attending the Wilson church on Sabbath. Angel was baptized in 2017, and Al in 2020.
The Nelsons’ two sons had two very different reactions to their parents new faith. Justin, their youngest, came to almost every small group meeting. Their older son, Anthony, believed his parents were crazy, and told them so. Angel began to pray for her two sons, especially for Anthony—she prayed that he would be reached. And he was.
Tom Hubbard, who took over the Wilson and Escanaba churches after Gibbs’ departure, explained that Anthony, a logger, suddenly found himself listening to 90.9, a Strong Tower Radio channel. Angel explains that he learned a lot from Doug Batchelor. “The change in my son after understanding the Bible is amazing,” Angel says. Anthony now has a better connection with his brother, Justin, too. Anthony’s was the first baptism in the newly built Wilson church.
As for Justin, at first, his reaction was similar to his brother’s. Angel explains that he has a hard time accepting things he cannot see. Justin asked many questions in the beginning, but he continued to be positive, and to pray. He was baptized in 2019, in Lake Superior.
Accepting Jesus and being baptized changed Justin. “Everyone can see the change in Justin’s personality,” Angel explains. Justin was so enthralled with his new found truth that he began giving Bible studies to his online friends with whom he would play video games. One of the friends he studied with flew all the way from Oregon to attend his baptism. Justin met and married a lovely Adventist woman this year and they now live in Kansas.
As for Al, he was baptized in 2020 at the mouth of the Two-hearted River. Gibbs and Hubbard stood on either side of him, and lowered him into the watery grave together. One family, complete in the Lord.
Celebration would not be complete without taking time to appreciate each of the elements that contributed to the Nelson’s and Cary’s journey. First, and most importantly, intentional friendships. Angel explains that the Gibbs had been good friends before the meetings, and small group studies. The Gibbs and the Nelsons would go on camping trips along Lake Superior, or spend the weekend together in nature. “We enjoyed their company,” Angel says, “and their values… how they’re reverent to the Sabbath and their love for the Lord.”
Second, evangelism. Whether it be seminars, campaigns, Bible studies, or Strong Tower Radio. When Hubbard spoke of Anthony’s conversion experience, he said, laughingly, “I think [Anthony] has listened to more Strong Tower in two weeks than I have in a lifetime.” The evangelism can look different, but when a soul is connected to it and thirsts for the Word, decisions are made.
Third is the small group, where relationships are created, both with each other, and with the Lord. “I think it’s important for people to know,” says Hubbard, “that in soul winning you can’t just give people a series of Bible studies and then they’re going to come into the church. It’s a lot of relationships, too!” Angel also commented on the impression the small group had on her. “You could always tell they cared,” she said.
Fourth, and most importantly: prayer. The Hubbards and Gibbs prayed for the Nelsons and Carys, and Angel prayed for her husband and her sons. No ministry is complete without the power of prayer, and no soul is won to the Lord without someone first having prayed for them.