By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
RUSTON – Wearing a shower cap only moments from entering the baptismal waters, Ophelia White was beaming with excitement.
With the encouragement of friends gathered in the Cook Baptist Church worship center, the 94-year-old new believer was baptized, answering the prayers of those closest to her.
“I want people to know it’s never too late,” White said. “Get with it.”
When she was a young girl, White’s mom urged her to go forward and ask to be baptized. Not fully realizing why she was doing so, White obliged and for decades believed she had a relationship with Christ.
But recently, roommate Joy Campbell noticed White lacked the confidence of Jesus in her life.
So, Campbell took a bold step and asked White if she knew Christ as her personal Lord and Savior.
For several weeks, Campbell continued the spiritual conversa tions and prayed for her roommate until one day in August when White made the decision she needed Jesus and publically announced her profession of faith to the congregation at Cook Baptist.
The news stirred joy inside Campbell, who shared a house with White for eight years before discovering White was not a Christian.
White’s conversion brought back memories of another person Campbell knew who reaffirmed his relationship with Christ.
Campbell had been married to her husband, Henry, for 34 years when she learned he did not know Jesus. A deacon at the time, he admitted to her he did not have a saving knowledge of Christ.
So in 1980, at age 64, Henry White professed Jesus as his Lord and Savior. From that point until his death in 2010 Campbell exhibited the change in his life because of his faith in Christ.
“I was surprised he wasn’t a Christian because he had been serving in the church so long,” Campbell said. “We as Christians need to realize that some of our people are active in service but don’t know Jesus.
“So I began praying for him and he one day accepted Christ,” she continued. “With my husband and Ophelia, it was a reminder that it’s never too late to become a Christian and that you should never give up on a person. It takes time, a lot of time.”
White’s baptism came as an encouragement for the Cook Baptist congregation in a number of ways.
Her story is a reminder it is never too late to accept Jesus. It also is evidence how the witness of a close friend can be a catalyst for a lost person to become a Christian, said Discipleship and Administration Pastor Todd Free.
“It’s inspiring to people, particularly for senior adults, to know that God is still touching hearts even in the elderly years,” Free said. “There are many others like Mrs. White who went their whole life thinking they knew Christ but understood later their need for Him.
“I’m praying we have others in our congregation who have a similar story will have the courage to do as Mrs. White,” he continued. “We see her testimony as a gift from God to our church and are grateful he allowed us to be a part of this.”