I'm talking about Ed and Doris Knight. You probably haven't ever heard of them, but I wish you could meet them. Mr. and Mrs. Knight, as I have always known them, were in the church that my dad pastored in Freehold, NJ, in the early 70s. In fact, if I remember the story correctly, they were there to meet our moving van when we moved into the parsonage, and helped take care of my sister and me while my parents got settled. I had just turned three and Jeanette was only six-months-old and cried a lot (sorry, J, just had to throw that in there). The Knights had three kids, but since their oldest child, Eddie, was in college, we didn't get to know him like we did his teen-aged sisters, Kayla and Pam. I remember spending time at their house and being baby-sat by Kayla and Pam. Jeanette was the flower girl in Kayla's wedding. One of our favorite games was to be Kayla and Pam when we were "playing pretend".
The Knights are originally from Arkansas and are now living back in Little Rock in their "retirement." In the 70s, they felt God calling them to be "tent-making" church planters, so they packed up and moved their family to Lincroft, New Jersey, where they continued their careers in education (Mr. Knight was a school principal and Mrs. Knight taught in the classroom). After helping to start West Monmouth Baptist Church, where my dad was pastor for four years, they moved on to help start Colts Neck Baptist Church, and were an active part of the work in the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association for thirty-some years.
After the Knights retired from teaching, they didn't move back to Arkansas or go to Florida to live out their "golden years". Their permanent residence remained in New Jersey, but they went global, traveling to China, Viet Nam, and many other countries, teaching English and sharing the Gospel with their lives.
Now in their 80s (but you would never guess that by looking at them), they are continuing to make a difference in the lives of internationals in Little Rock. Mr. and Mrs. Knight teach English classes once or twice a week and have their students and their families into their home for meals on a regular basis. They chose to teach the most basic class, and are touching lives from countries all over the globe: China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq.
The Knights came through Nashville last night and stayed with my parents. I joined them for dinner and for some time at Jeanette's house (so they could meet Erica). We sat around and reminisced about our years spent together in central New Jersey, and they entertained us with stories from their world travels. I could have sat all night listening to the Knights!
Two stories that stood out to me last night. One was about a missionary named Jim, living in China, who was out on his bicycle one day. Among all of the chatter of Chinese daily life, he heard someone call out to him in English, "Hey you, come here!" He looked and saw an older Chinese man sitting on a chair, beckoning for him to come talk to him. When Jim went over to see what he wanted, the man said, "When I was a little boy, an American soldier told me about Jesus. Can you tell me about him again?" Jim shared with the man about Jesus and how to become a Christian and the man received Christ into his heart that day. Jim offered to return with a Bible and to disciple the man, and over time, the Chinese man's entire family came to know the Lord. Mrs. Knight explained how that small seed that was sown by the American soldier in World War II, sixty years earlier, had come to bear fruit in that Chinese man's heart and had impacted his whole family for the Gospel!
The other story that impacted me was about some students in Viet Nam. The Knights taught English for four months at an agricultural college in a rural area outside of a major city. They would invite their students to come to Bible study in their apartment on some evenings. One day Mr. Knight had gone to get some sodas and snacks to serve the students that night. He met a young woman and invited her to come to the study. She asked if she could bring her boyfriend and both of them arrived that evening. Before the study began, the girl said that she couldn't stay for some reason, but asked if her boyfriend could stay. The boyfriend stayed for the Bible study and ended up accepting Christ as his Savior that night! If Mr. Knight had not met the young woman and invited her to come to the Bible study, her boyfriend would probably not have been able to make that life-changing decision that particular night!
The Knights are an inspiration to me. I have struggled throughout my life (and still do) with boldly proclaiming the Gospel as I live my life. I have known that you don't have to be a career missionary to bring someone to Christ, but have had a hard time getting out of my comfort zone in my everyday life, in order to tell someone about Jesus. The Knights have lived their lives in such a way that the Gospel pours out of them. They were obedient to God's call on their lives to move to New Jersey and to faithfully serve in their churches and in their community. They have been continually obedient "to be witnesses to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). They truly "shine like stars in the universe" (Phil. 2:14) and I am so thankful that God brought them into my life and has allowed me to be impacted by their example.