Finding Jesus Together
By Gary McLain
John grew up being an honest, Christian kid attending a Sunday church, singing in the choir and such, but his relationship with the Lord was not foremost in his upbringing. In high school he completed the ROTC program and went on to serve five years in the military during the Vietnam war.
Sharon grew up in a good home, but with no real Christian background or prayer in the family. She sometimes went to church on Christmas and Easter. Her high school years and after were full of “just wanting to have a good time” which included a good deal of partying.
In 1975, John was living in Paradise, California, working for Chrysler, and living the smoking, drinking, bachelor lifestyle. Every once in awhile, he would pass petite, five-foot-tall, 61-year-old, Elsie Brown on the sidewalk of his apartment complex. She always had a smile and a kind greeting. Come to find out, she lived directly below him.
One morning when he was leaving for work, he found a book at the door. The Desire of the Ages. “Oh brother!” John thought. “Another religious book.” He threw it on his bed as he went out the door.
A couple weeks later he passed Elsie again and she asked if he’d found the book she’d left on his doorstep. John replied that he had and said thank you, though he had not read it yet. A few weeks later John lost his job with Chrysler. With empty time on his hands, he found himself reading The Desire of the Ages, and really enjoyed learning about Christ. The next time he saw Elsie he had finished the book and thanked her for sharing it with him. She asked if he would like another book. John said yes, so she gave him The Great Controversy.
John found a new job in Alameda, California and promised Elsie that he would look up the Adventist church there. It was a tiny little church in a quiet neighborhood. The first time he went in he was met by a retired physician, Homer Wolfsen, and the first thing out of Dr. Wofsens mouth was, “Would you like to study the Bible?” John said, “Well sure.” So he and Dr. Wolfsen started studying together once a week. His Bible studies continued even when he started working at the Oakland Airport.
Sharon had a friend who also worked at the airport, and suggested that Sharon come down to the airport and meet John. Sharon was not too fond of being set up, but decided to give it a try. They met and chatted a little, and then John asked for her phone number. Sharon gave it to him, and a day or so later, he gave her call.
When they started dating, John asked Sharon if she would like to go to church with him. Sharon agreed, thinking of it more as a date, but when she found out it was on Saturday she really began to wonder what she had gotten herself into. She had never heard of a church that worshiped on Saturday.
So there she was on her “church date,” in a short skirt, jewelry, and all made up. The small church accepted them right in without saying a word. John invited Sharon to study the Bible with him and Dr. Wolfsen. The church didn’t have a pastor at the time, but soon a pastor and his family, Larry & Linell Mays, fresh out of seminary, moved in. They happened to be the same age as John.
The pastor started including the young pair in something every Sabbath to get them involved in the church as well as church outings. They also began Bible studies together. After eight months or so, John & Sharon asked to be baptized. Sharon says it helped to have someone else to experience this dramatic life change in with. “Your life changes for the better when you allow Jesus in.”
John and Sharon had started a journey together and hadn't even gotten married yet. Six months after they got baptized, John got a job in Oregon. They got married just before moving and had their honeymoon on their drive to their new home in Oregon.
When they arrived they began searching for a church home and immediately got involved with the Adventist church in Sandy, Oregon where they have now been for 37 years. John is an elder, and Sharon has been working at the Gladstone Adventist Book Center (ABC) for the past 21 years. Sharon prays that God will send people to her in the ABC that she can minister to through books, just like Elsie did with John so many years ago.