“I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior,” I said to Bob.
Bob Weber of Weber & Associates is a sales and leadership trainer. I hired him to lead a seminar for my sales team in the early 1990s. I met Bob at a marriage seminar I attended as part of a couple’s management retreat sponsored by Sterling Software, my employer at the time.
Bob impressed me as a great leader with strong values. I was drawn to him for two reasons. First, Kathy liked him. She identified him as a good man. Second, the gleam in his eye. I saw there was something different about Bob. He brought out the best in me and those around me.
In the marriage seminar, I discovered Bob was a Christian. He spoke about Jesus in business environments. Jesus was exactly who Bob was when in front of a crowd. Bob wasn’t a preacher. He talked sales, leadership, and, in my first meeting, marriage. But I knew where he discovered the principles he taught.
Bob was standing in front of his 8×10 booth at the Culpepper Forum. This was a conference for software and services executives from all over the world. Bob was there selling his sales and leadership training. That’s when I told Bob I had become a Christian.
He said, “That’s great. I can’t talk now, but let’s grab a quick lunch. I want to find out more.”
At lunch, Bob asked what happened. I told him my story. That’s when he said, “I know your next step.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“You need to attend Tres Dias,” he said.
“What is Tres Dias?” I asked.
“It is a three day retreat, but that’s all I can tell you. You need to agree to attend it. It will really help you in your new relationship with Jesus,” he explained.
“You want me to say I’ll go to a three day event, and you won’t tell me anything about it?”
“That’s right. You need to trust me. You need to agree to go,” he pressed.
He saw I wasn’t comfortable agreeing to something I knew nothing about.
Bob then offered, “Look. There is a long waiting list for people wanting to attend. Allow me to put your name on the list. When you finally get called in a year or so, maybe you’ll be more inclined to accept the invitation. Can I put your name on the wait list?”
“Ok. But I want to be honest with you. I’m not at all comfortable attending a retreat I know nothing about with people I don’t know,” I said.
Thirty days later, Bob called me.
“You won’t believe it. Your name was selected for the next Tres Dias. I guess someone canceled, and your name jumped to the top of the list. The event is in two weeks. Can you make it?”
I don’t know why I said “yes,” but I felt like it was the right thing to do. I needed to trust Bob Weber. After all, Kathy liked him. And Kathy is a good judge of character.
Two weeks later on a Thursday afternoon, Bob and his wife showed up at my front door. “Are you ready to go?” he asked.
They drove me to the Mount Paran Church of God at Northside and Mt. Paran Road in Atlanta.
Church of God? What is that? Is this a cult of some kind? I thought to myself.
Bob walked me into the meeting area where there were a hundred other guys just like me. He said, “This is it. Go to the registration table, and then introduce yourself to some of the guys. I gotta go.”
Just like that, I was on my own. Strange church. Strange people. Later we were escorted onto a bus with a hundred of my newest friends. As I sat down, I said to the guy next to me, “Do you know where we are going?” He had as much information as I did. We were in this together.
It was an amazing experience.
As you might have already expected, I can’t tell you what happened at Tres Dias. But I can tell you this one story which changed my life.
Over lunch one day with my hundred friends, I was sitting across the table from a country western singer. I’m from Jersey City. This guy, appropriately named Billy, was the first country western singer I’d ever met in my life. He was in his early sixties. He told me his story of how he became a Christian in his mid-thirties. Boy did this guy have stories. Entertainers live a different life from business people.
He asked me, “What church do you go to?”
“I don’t go to church,” I said.
He yelled out, “You don’t go to church!”
I’m not sure, but I think the whole room went quiet and everybody looked at me. It might not have happened like that, but that’s the way it felt.
“You need a church community. A small group Bible study is good for you, but what about your wife and kids? How will they come to know and walk with Jesus?” he asked. I didn’t have an answer.
I was convicted on the spot.
I needed to go to church. Kathy and the kids needed to go, too. It would be easy for me to go, but how would I get them to go? This was a problem since I never mentioned any of this new life with Jesus to Kathy. She had about enough with me leaving every night to go to AA. Now this?
Tres Dias was life-changing. I came to understand just how much God loves me. I was overwhelmed by the event. The men, the speakers, the shared experiences, the forgiveness, the brotherhood, and mostly the love. It was a weekend, a whole weekend, of experiencing the love of God. Life-changing is an understatement.
When I got home on Sunday night, Kathy asked, “How did it go?”
I said, “It was a great experience. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“They told me this weekend was for the men. In a month, it’s the wives’ turn,” I told her.
“I am not going!” she said resolutely.
That month sure went by fast.