The Bible affirms that when God calls, he equips the person concerned with the necessary qualities and discipline to carry out his plans.
The psalmist quotes God as saying ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you’ (Psalm 32, 8).
Keith Abraham is able to reflect on these truths, of course, but accepts that he was not always obedient to that call. “I have been a Christian for many years, although I can’t remember a specific day when I made a commitment. It was a gradual process as I grew up in a church background, and a friend had considerable influence in my life. I came to Eastbourne when I was 18 years old, and in due course joined the Methodist preaching circuit. People asked if I had thought of full-time ministry.”
This, then, was the start of the process for Keith. He recalls that there were dry times in his spiritual experience, and God didn’t seem to answer his prayers.
Six months ago, the ‘call’ came again, but Keith did not pursue it. Just a few weeks back, though, he decided ‘This has gone on long enough’!
He continues his story.
“R.T. Kendall, well-known author and preacher, wrote a commentary on the book of Jonah. I had a copy, but gave it away. One day I was praying, Lord, if I can find that book, then maybe that is proof that you really are calling me. I asked in the Christian Resource Centre, but they did not have it in stock. Disappointed, I went along to another store, not Christian, to browse over other books.
Unexpectedly, I came across the very volume, well-worn, on a shelf, and took it to the cashier. The cashier scanned it, but it was not on the computer. ‘We don’t keep this book,’ she said, ‘ so I don’t have a price for it. You can take it.’”
While sceptics among us might conclude that it was all a coincidence, this episode was enough to confirm God’s call to Keith, and that perhaps even an angel had ‘planted’ the book there.
The result of this strange incident is that he is now going ahead with the idea of training for ministry.
His wife Linda gives her perspective. “Keith and I have always worked together in church. Currently we lead discipleship groups in our own home, so there is virtually no change. When Keith said that he was going to prepare for full-time service, I was over the moon, I couldn’t be happier. Our fellowship in Pevensey Bay is 100% supportive, too.”
The Regional Baptist Minister is responsible for encouraging candidates as they start out, and has been around to advise them as they move forward. Knowing the ups and downs of this vocation, his tongue-in-cheek comment was ‘My job is to put you off’, but that is extremely unlikely to happen!
Keith and Linda are not so naive as to believe that this course of action will not have an impact on their present lifestyle. “It is a complete change for us, a major shift, not least the financial implications.”
Interestingly, it is a line from the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman film ‘Far and Away’, set at the end of the 19th century, which sticks in their minds: ‘Let’s imagine we are starting out in life, rather than finishing it.’
In addition, a particular Bible passage also stimulates the mindset of this couple. Mark, chapter 1, the first few verses, referring to John the Baptist as messenger of the coming of Jesus Christ: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’.
Exactly what Keith and Linda Abraham are intending to do, following in famous footsteps.