Out of the Dust Bin
Retiring leader John M. Fowler shares the miraculous story of his conversion.
BY EVAN KNOTT
Retiring church leader John M. Fowler has an unusual story about becoming an Adventist. He shared it recently with Evan Knott in an interview in Atlanta. To read more of the interview please see “Ministry Is Not Something From Which You Retire” in Bulletin 2 (June 27, 2010) of the special GC session report.
y conversion was a great miracle. I was not born in a Seventh-day Adventist family. I came from a nominal Christian background. My conversion was unique because it occurred as a result of a class in which the teacher was always attacking Christianity, attacking religion, attacking faith in God. He was an agnostic.
Then one day a gentleman came to our class to sell some literature. My teacher was very offended by his visit, and, in fact, got very angry with him and told him to leave. But as the man was leaving our classroom, he left a card.
RETIRING GC EDUCATOR: John M. Fowler, an associate director of GC Education, has served the church for 52 years. PHOTO: Alden Ho/AR
The teacher read the card, tore it into pieces, and threw it into the dust bin. After class, two of us put all the scraps together and completed the puzzle. On the card there were three questions: Is there a God? If there is a God, why do we have suffering? and Is there life after death? We turned over that puzzle and found that it was a Voice of Prophecy enrollment card. So I wrote to Voice of Prophecy, because I wanted to find answers to these questions.
The director of Voice of Prophecy wrote back and said, “No, you are too young.” I was only about 12 or 13. “You are to be at least 16 to study the Voice of Prophecy.” But I wrote back and said, “No, I’ve got to know the answers now! Try me, and if I don’t send the lessons back in time, you can drop me.”
Well, 36 lessons—two a week—came to my home, and at the end of the course a letter arrived. “Do you want someone to visit with you?” it read. And so someone was sent to visit me. A man came to our house and saw my mother; I wasn’t there at the time. “I have come to see John Fowler,” he says. So my mother sent for me and I came running. I was a small fellow, and this big, tall man looked at me and said, “No, no, no, no. I didn’t come to see you.” He thought he was going to see somebody bigger. “Maybe your father is the one I should see; not you.”
I said, “No, no, no—it’s me. I’m the one who sent for the Voice of Prophecy representative to come.” The man wasn’t interested in talking with me. Why waste his time with a 12-year-old kid? I challenged him. I said, “Try me. You don’t have to come to my house. Our house is a small house; we are poor people. But I’ll come to your place. Tell me where you are staying.”
So he told me where he was staying, and I went there and studied with him for a couple of weeks. He began to take interest. Later the same man came back and conducted evangelistic meetings in our town. I attended and was baptized.
That’s my conversion story. It’s a great miracle for me. There are so many experiences like this—encounters with God and the truth. I’ve never had a moment of regret in all these 52 years.
Evan Knott is a sophomore religion and communication major at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.