“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.”
— Isaiah 11:6, English Standard Version
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If you are a member of the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, then chances are you’ve heard the name Rivers Clark.
Rivers is a 4-year-old girl full of energy and love for Jesus. For most of her life, she has come to church with her grandparents, Bob and Jacquie Barringer.
A little more than a year ago, she began asking her father, Ron Clark, if he would read her a Bible story before bedtime every night. Even though he himself wasn’t going to church, he agreed. Night after night of reading Bible stories to her, he began to think about his life — about things like peace, joy, happiness and of course, purpose.
After a few weeks, Rivers asked her “da-da” if he would come to church with her. He didn’t really want to, but he loves his daughter.
So he did.
He took Rivers to Bible class and then sat in the back of the auditorium, doing his best to avoid any conversations. Truth is, he felt guilty for even being in church. He thought that, in order to attend a church, you have to have your life in order. You couldn’t have a past. You had to have all of the answers. He knew that he didn’t.
But week after week, he started to notice that others there also struggled with temptations. They didn’t have it all together or have all the answers. They, too, had a past, just like him.
Slowly he started to talk with people, build relationships, attend classes and study the Scriptures with one of the ministers. One Wednesday night in the 4-year-old-class, Rivers asked the teacher the most beautiful question anyone has ever heard, “Are you going to baptize my da-da?”
A year after Ron started coming to church with his daughter, he made the decision to put Christ on in baptism for the forgiveness of his sins. He realized that his life was in need of a Savior. He found the purpose he’d always been searching for.
Just like Ron, we all have a story. We all have a past, things we aren’t proud of. Thank you, Jesus Christ, for going to the cross! Because of you, we have life. Because of you, we have hope.
Congratulations, Ron — and thank you, Rivers, for your example and influence.
STUART CASH is involvement minister for the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, Ark.