August 2023 – This is My Story


Dear Friend in Christ:

I pray this letter finds you and yours well—and staying cool! Mobile in August is like a steamy hot sauna. I try to remind myself that some folks pay good money to experience what we get for free!

This month, I am going to do something a bit different; as I share what I hear the Lord saying, I’m going to share some personal testimony along the way. I pray this letter will encourage you.

This month marks my 60th journey around the sun on this great blue ship we call Earth. I am reminded of a precious Bible promise that I claimed as a young man and still do each day: “He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” (see Philippians 1).

Another verse that continues to resonate with me is “He Who promised is faithful” (see Hebrews 10). I love to sing the song based on Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness!”

I have found this to be true in my life, even in times when I couldn’t always see it. And in times of seeming despair, these truths held me, even when my own grip was weak.

Historians say 1963 was a very significant year. When the year began, John F. Kennedy was our President here in the United States. Tragically, that would not be the case before the year ended. On the day I was born, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. Later in life, his words that day have had a profound affect on me.


I grew up a Preacher’s Kid (PK). My Dad and Mom had a happy marriage, though we didn’t have much money (I didn’t know or notice). Their parents were wonderful, loving, godly people as well, and we were very close. Our lives centered around the Lord, our family, and church. I lived at church as much as anywhere. We were Southern Baptists, after all.

There are people reading this letter who can remember me as a child. A few of you actually kept me in the church nursery when I was very young. Bless your hearts. A crown of glory awaits you in Heaven. I was high energy and mischievous. I still hear stories, bless God.

When I was five years old, on a Sunday night, I heard my Dad preach a message about Heaven, Hell, and salvation. It occurred to me, by God’s grace, that Heaven was the better choice. I also already knew well that I was a little sinner; in fact, I had worked hard to be good at it.

But on that night, the condition of my soul concerned me enough that when I got home, I informed my Mom that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart. We knelt beside my bed and I prayed the sinner’s prayer. Then we sang that sweet song, “Into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today, come in to stay, come into my heart, Lord Jesus” (Wieand and Clarke).

Somehow, the Lord graciously received me and wrote my name in His Book of Life. He never forgot it, though many times, I acted as if I had. Jesus says in John 10, “No one can snatch them from My hand.”


Not long afterward, our family was blessed with the birth of my sister, and three years later, my brother. Before my brother was born, we moved to the Miami area in south Florida, which was a culture shock for me. There was a new school, new friends, and a long distance from my beloved Grandparents.

But, there was a lot to enjoy, including the Miami Dolphins and their perfect 1972-1973 Super Bowl season! One of the Dolphins’ players, Norm Evans, attended the same church where we went. I was awestruck. He had written a book about his own Christian testimony and I couldn’t put it down.

My parents instilled in me a love for books and reading at a young age. Biographies and autobiographies were favorites, as well as classic stories. I remember being enthralled by “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan as my Grandma Simpson read it to our class at Vacation Bible School. Later, I read books like “Run, Baby, Run” by Nicky Cruz, “The Cross and the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson, and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.

We even met Corrie Ten Boom at a meeting where my Dad was speaking. You never knew who you might meet in these gatherings: Maria von Trapp, Colonel Harland Sanders (KFC), Pat Boone, Kathrine Kuhlmann, Nicky Cruz, and Oral Roberts. All of this was pretty amazing for a young boy!

Now, I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t always enjoy meetings, including church. When you’re a PK, you sit in A LOT of meetings. However, even in my restlessness and sometimes rebellion, I couldn’t deny the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, especially during deep times of praise, worship, and prayer. I witnessed miracles.

At 12, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a Baptist church in Port Arthur, Texas. Not long afterwards, I made my public profession of faith in baptism at East Moss Point Baptist Church in Mississippi. But I was leading a double life.


Whatever rebellious kids were getting into in the mid-1970s, I was into it, or doing my best to get into it. I could feel the tension between “church me” and “school me,” especially when the Lord called me into a life of ministry around age 14. My answer was a firm “NO!”

I had already seen how challenging the life of a minister can be. It’s often thankless work. And the expectations some people place on ministers and their families can be unbearable. Plus, I’m an introvert. Being around a lot of people all the time, especially public speaking, did not appeal to me.

I had also experienced the cruelty that can happen in a community when people do not understand or accept you; when your church is considered weird because you speak in tongues, have healings, are a multi-ethnic congregation, and meet in houses for Bible Study. Trust me, that wasn’t popular in Mississippi or Alabama in the 1970s.

I was physically assaulted by a group of boys at school in 7th grade. Our home was pictured on the front page of the local paper in Mississippi. Later, after we moved back to Mobile, our home there was repeatedly vandalized and threatened. Crosses were burned in our yard. I was spat on at school. People passed out filers in our neighborhood calling us a “cult.” 2Church-going religious folks did this to us. A local pastor in Mobile fanned the flames of controversy, as did some nationally-known televangelists.

Me become a minister? No way! Besides, I was beginning to carefully consider the words of Billy Joel: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, ‘cuz sinners are much more fun.” And yet, I still could not escape the presence of God. I couldn’t run from His call. Ultimately, I became glad about that! There is so much more I want to share about this journey, but space here is limited.


For now, perhaps a good takeaway is that God is faithful and He does honor the seed of His Gospel, watered by tears, bathed in prayer, and nourished by His Spirit. As so many of us have experienced, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come.”

To the parents and grandparents—natural and spiritual—I say: don’t stop praying, don’t stop listening, don’t stop hoping, don’t stop sharing life. To younger people, let me encourage you that the Lord is with you, He loves you, He is listening to you, and He has not forgotten you. He has given you purpose; your life has great meaning and value. Seek Him for wisdom and peace.

Whatever your generation, seek to build bridges with other generations. Let faith, hope, and love be the foundation. Ask God for the grace to listen without being defensive or afraid.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Maybe later I can share about how I came to serve CSM. But I can say I thank God for the honor of being part of such a fruitful worldwide ministry. We’ve reached more than 100 nations and continue to support many other ministries beyond our own. The obstacles in mission are sometimes great, but the opportunity is greater!

You are a significant part of this mission—thank you! We deeply appreciate your prayer and financial support, as well as your friendship and encouragement. Please remember us this month and throughout the rest of 2023, and let us know any way we can serve you.

In Jesus,

Stephen Simpson


About the Author:

Stephen Simpson

STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.