By Stan Templeton, who serves in Lima, Peru, with his wife, Ruth.

Danny experienced a storybook conversion. A friend invited him to our church. The second time Danny attended, he asked if he could talk with me. He talked for an hour while I listened to him tell a long, sad story of his past. Through the tears, he shared a life filled with pain, shame, and no knowledge of God. He had years of turmoil to tell, but he was hitting only the most recent highlights.

Declared just by God

At the time, Danny was going through a court trial for something he did not do. Both the fear and possibility of being sentenced to prison were very real. Each month he had to appear before a judge in court as his case was under review. He decided not to run from the law but to face it head on, and it terrified him. He ended up being declared innocent, but in the process he was also declared just by God. You see… Danny got saved, justified from all his past sin of which he was definitely guilty.

He earned a living by buying and selling stolen goods. He quit that business and took an honest job as a taxi driver. In just a short time, he was assaulted on two occasions by people who tried to steal his car while he was driving. But God delivered him. He stopped drinking, but he can’t stop talking about Jesus. His youngest daughter has made a profession of faith and, believe me, Danny has his sons’ listening ears. They can hardly believe what has happened to their father.

Broken and tenderhearted

Danny is not pushy, but the transformation in his life is powerful coming from a very big man with a history of everything but godliness. One of the biggest changes is his proneness to tears. He is so broken over his sin and so tenderhearted. Hardly the Danny from just a short time ago. Tenderheartedness was not part of his past, and the only tears that were shed were from those who crossed him.

Danny can’t understand why people don’t get saved. He shares the story of Christ’s death for us but is amazed at the responses he gets. In his own words he says: “I can’t believe how hard-hearted people are! They are so blind.” He is so sincere. It takes you by surprise and it’s so refreshing. He has already forgotten what he was like. Danny has come to the light. And once you see the light, it is hard to understand why others love darkness, rather than light.

A congregation filled with Dannys

This past Sunday in church, Danny sat in the middle, right down in front, and beside him was his 17-year-old daughter with a smile from one ear to the other. I think it was the first time she had ever gone to church. Lidia was shy and did not want to leave her father’s side. Just a couple of weeks ago, her father would have been one of the last people she would have listened to or wanted to sit with. And church would have been the last place she would have chosen.

Frankly, I am humbled when I see God’s wonderful grace in Danny. The same grace that cleansed him did the same for me, and I needed it as much as Danny. I am so honored to be the pastor of a congregation that is filled with Dannys.