Scott Stephenson: a testimony and a funeral
Published: 14 February 2012 (GMT+10)
In mid-2010 a young man in our congregation, in a small coastal town in north Queensland (Australia), received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour (John 1:12). His name was Scott Stephenson, and he was a driver of trains hauling coal in the region. At his baptism on 20 March 2011, he recounted how his conversion had happened.
It was clear to many in the church that he had struggled with evolution. And that the message and materials of Creation Ministries International (CMI) played a vital ongoing part in the joyous Christian walk they observed him living.
Some 300 tracts and nearly 80 Creation magazines went home with over 300 people at that funeral.
Tragically, less than six months after being baptized, he was dead, killed in a freak accident. Despite the sadness, his funeral became a vital testimony to many in our community. But first, some background.
In his baptismal testimony, Scott said that his parents raised him in the Christian life: “I went to church each Sunday and attended Sunday school.” He even attended a Christian high school, but after a certain age, things changed. He decided that he did not need God, who was only holding him back. He said:
“I took whatever path I needed to take to get to what I wanted, in the quickest, easiest way. I lied, I stole, and I cheated. I held no regard for the feelings of others.”
But with his childhood Christian teaching, he says, “I felt guilt. I knew I was doing the wrong thing.”
Nevertheless, he tried to justify his sin, till he reached the point where, he said,
“I knew I had to kill off God inside myself to get rid of the guilt. ‘Kill the judge, kill the judgment.’ So I started telling myself there was no God. I would cling to any and every fragment of what I thought was ‘evidence’ against Him. I espoused evolution; I cited the hypocritical nature of pious religious types who would say one thing and do another … And, like any good predator, I would pick on the weakest of the group … my Christian wife.”
Scott said that he had done “some terrible things and lived an unholy life”. But he could see afterwards that God had His hand on him. He said:
Evolution was his way of denying a God to whom he knew, deep down, he was accountable.
“When the guilt and lies in my life all finally caught up with me, I looked up from the depths I had sunken to and I found love. I saw it first in the eyes of my wife who, despite having every reason not to, took me by the hand and led me back to Jesus. I was made to feel welcome at [our] church and, even though I thought otherwise, the walls did not crumble when I stepped through the door.”
He said to our congregation: “God used you to show me that He still loved me; all of you.” He pledged to use his life “to bring others to God.”
One of the areas Scott previously struggled with was the subject of evolution, which as his testimony showed, was his way of denying a God to whom he knew, deep down, he was accountable. When he became a Christian, he came across Creation magazine and began to avidly read it, along with other books and articles that CMI produces. He was eager to share with family and friends the information he was learning. He even wore t-shirts with the creation message printed on them.
After his conversion, Scott recorded his favourite Bible verses in a small journal. The first one he entered was 1 Peter 3:15, a ‘staple’ in CMI messages and literature: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” This verse was Scott’s guide as to how he shared his faith.
Photo by R. Grigg
Playing his guitar and singing, as well as writing poems and songs as opportunities to share his faith were things in which Scott took delight. He loved working with young people, and began to lead our youth group in July 2011.
While Scott was riding his motorcycle home from work on the night of 10 August 2011, he hit a cow that had strayed onto the road, and he died instantly. He left behind his young wife, Tanneil, and 5-year-old son, Dean.
Knowing of Scott’s passion for His Creator and Saviour, we (together with his family) decided to insert a CMI tract in the program given to everyone attending the funeral service, as well as a note inviting anyone to take a free back copy of Creation magazine from a table at the church entrance. Some 300 tracts and nearly 80 Creation magazines (complete with its regular ‘Good News’ Gospel section) went home with over 300 people, perhaps the majority of them non-Christians, that day.
We are sure that Scott would have been thrilled to know that so many people received the sort of information that had meant so much to him in his short walk with the Lord before being called to his eternal home. Although losing him has been so hard for all of us, we know that his testimony and the influence of the Creation materials will continue to reach others for the Lord. May God bless all those who have a part in Creation Ministries.
- The Enderbys form the pastoral team of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Sarina, North Queensland. Return to text.