The Conversion of A. W. Tozer

When Aiden W. Tozer, was 17 years old and working in a rubber factory in Akron, a neighbor came alongside him on the street. Putting his hand on his shoulder, he said, “You know, I have been wondering about you. I have been wondering if you are a Christian, if you are converted. I just wanted a chance to talk it over with you.”

Young Tozer said, “No, Mr. Holman, I am not converted, but I thank you for saying this to me. I am going to give it some serious thought.”

Some time later while walking down the street, Tozer heard a man speaking with a strong German accent. Tozer paused to listen and he realized the man was a street preacher. The man said, “If you don’t know how to be saved, just call on God, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner,’ and God will hear you.”

Tozer went home, went up into the attic, and wrestled it out for himself. He emerged from the attic a new creation in Christ.

I don’t know if either Mr. Holman or the German evangelist ever knew they had been instrumental in winning to the Lord a boy who would become a 20th century giant for Christ. One man is known by only his last name, and the other’s name is lost to us. How encouraging to those who try to say a word for the Lord. It may be a quiet word to a teenager. It might be a sad attempt at a sermon. We might never hear of the results. We may never know that our words were arrows that hit the target of someone’s heart. But His Word does not return void, and our labor in the Lord is never in vain.

(Tozer’s life story is told in James L. Snyder’s The Life of A. W. Tozer, published by Regal in 2009. For more information about this book, click here.)