This story is not about pain and suffering and it’s not a tragedy. Instead, it’s about an average man who put Sunday football before everything – especially church.
Lee Pilon: I’d get there and I never felt comfortable; I never understood it.
Lee Pilon refused to go to church. His wife, Megan, often asked him to give church a chance, especially after their two little girls started to ask why daddy wasn’t going to church with them.
Megan Pilon: So, I’d say, ‘can you just come?’ And he’d say, ‘I just don’t get anything out of it. Why are you asking me to do this? I’d rather watch football.
Lee was also an avid softball player. One day a new player joined his softball team.
Lee: We’d been told, hey, I’ve got a new guy coming. And he’s a pastor over here at the church; and I thought, ‘really?’
Dale soon learned that Lee played golf. So he’d invite him to play in golf tournaments with his friends, also Christian men, who accepted Lee without question. Dale never pressured or preached to Lee. He just forged a friendship.
Dale Oquist: He was a friend of mine first and foremost. And if I could get him to a place where he could make a decision, whether that decision was yes or no, at least I brought him to that decision – because that’s not my job to make people respond, because the love of God has to be in and of itself something that people would want to respond positively to.
Lee: He just took it slow and got to know me. I got to know him.
It wasn’t that the men never talked to Lee about accepting Christ as his savior. In Lee’s mind, becoming a Christian was a complicated issue.
Lee: I just remember telling him on one of our trips to go play golf, ‘I just don’t want it [a decision for Christ] to be because of a tragedy. I don’t want my kids to be sick. I don’t want my wife or myself to be having an issue or problem that’s going to make me realize this is what I want or this is what I need to do.
Dale: He wasn’t anti-God. He was looking for the huge aha moment when it all comes together; and of course, we knew Lee well enough that probably wasn’t going to be the case for him.
Lee: But then what’s it going to be? What’s it going to take? And I struggled with that for quite some time.
The answer to his question came in December of 2005. Lee’s family was asked to read ‘The Christmas Story’ for the Christmas Eve service. Lee still wasn’t attending church, but his two girls were so excited, he couldn’t say no. After they finished and took their seats, pastor Quist, now Lee’s longtime friend, started his sermon. It was about receiving the ultimate gift.
Lee: And that was the gift of receiving Christ.
Dale: I asked, ‘if you wanted to receive Jesus – [do] you want to become a follower of Jesus and take him as your own? [Then] take responsibility for him – sign in that signature box on the front of the program.
Lee: It just seemed so simple. And I thought, ‘it can’t be.’ But yet I could just feel it, and he looked at all of us. They’d given us a piece of paper, and he said to receive that gift just sign your name. And I didn’t even think about it – I just, just signed it.
Megan: I remember looking at, watching him sign it and nudging him and saying, ‘do you know what you just did?’ I had been praying for 15 years for this man that I loved dearly – he just signed that paper!
Lee: It was just, and it probably took a day to realize that – it was that simple.
Now on Sunday morning, you will find Lee at church with his family, because Lee will always remember that Christmas Eve in 2005 when finally he understood the simple message of Christ’s love.
Lee: Wow. This is amazing how subtle it was, but yet how powerful it is.
Megan: Together now, we together can grow towards the Lord and nothing is holding us back.