This article was originally published as "A TRIBUTE TO MY PAWPAW" By Jonathan Grooms as a commemoration to the founder of Treasure Path to Soul Winning, his grandfather.
On Monday, April 5, J.O. Grooms left his temporary home for the place he had longed to be for many, many years. For those of us who knew him well, we could truly say that this world was not his home, he was just passing through. As this man, who was small in stature but big in heart passed through this world, he made an eternal impact wherever he went. He truly patterned his life after Matthew 6:19-20 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
Three Great Passions
J.O. had three passions in his life: the Word of God, winning souls and prayer. As a young boy, when I would visit my grandparents, I would always know where to find my Pawpaw when I arrived at his home. He would be in his office reading and studying the Word of God. He would take a few minutes to say hello, and then he would go right back to reading.
I came to find out that he did not only read his Bible, but he memorized large portions of the Bible. For fun, us grandchildren would open the Bible up to any page, read a verse, then ask him where we read from. A lot of the time he could give the exact book, chapter and verse, but if he was not able to give an exact reference, he would always be within a couple of chapters.
As I travel to many places around the country, I meet so many people that were a part of my grandfather's personal soul-winning classes at Lynchburg Baptist College, now Liberty University. They were amazed at his boldness to call "prospects" on the phone in front of a class. Many people came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior through this evangelism tool. Dr. Elmer Towns recently wrote,
"While many talk about evangelism, J.O. Grooms gave his heart and soul of evangelism to our students, and for that I will always be grateful."
Evangelising People Worldwide
In 2002 , J.O. was getting ready to have five bypass heart surgery. As he lay in the hospital bed talking to his oldest son, Mike, he began to cry uncontrollably. Mike asked him why he was crying. J.O. responded, "If I die, who is going to tell the Indian people about Jesus?" He had a passion for lost souls. The last fifteen years of his life God placed a heavy burden on his heart for the people of India. God led him to meet a young evangelist named Steeven Kumar. J.O. spent months at a time in India training Steeven how to win souls and memorize Scripture. He taught Steeven in such a way that Steeven has continued the work that J.O. started many years ago with the same type of passion and drive that J.O. had. It is now believed that nearly 3 million souls have been saved as a result of this partnership. There are now more than 800 pastors who are preaching the Gospel and winning souls.
J.O. not only trained pastors, but he had a special place in his heart for the orphans in India. He helped to build a home for little orphan boys and girls and began helping to provide for them on a monthly basis. There are now 550 orphans in 15 Children's Homes throughout India. These children get up every morning at 5 AM to quote the Treasure Path to Soul Winning lessons out loud. They also spend time together in fervent prayer before going to school each day. Each of these children are being trained to be personal soul-winners.
J.O. traveled to more than 30 nations around the world spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. He lived his life as the Apostle Paul did. Many have referred to him as a "modern day Apostle Paul". Romans 1:16 was very real to him as he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He believed with all his heart that it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. He spent the majority of the last twenty five plus years of his life ministering in three main countries: Nigeria, Russia and India.
As many of you may know, my grandfather battled dementia the final years of his life. Despite battling this disease, he continued to have a passion for souls. Dr. Kye Kim, who was his doctor at the VA Center, recently shared this story with us.
"I have a fond memory that he wanted to make it sure that I was saved. I let him save me again. I vividly recal that he was delighted. He will be certainly missed by us. Please convey my condolences to your family. We will see him again in better place in the future."
Unashamed to Pray
J.O. believed in the power of prayer. Dr. Towns wrote this story of how his prayer life influenced him many years ago when he was just moving back to the city of Lynchburg.
"I had not bought a house, and he invited me to live with him and I did so for thirty days. Only after my time in his house, I learned that he and Albertina had given up their bedroom for me, and began sleeping in the basement bedroom. Every morning I would wake up around 4:30 AM and I would hear J.O. praying out loud, it was that prayer time that told me that J.O. was more than a soul winner, he was a soul winner with heart and passion. Hearing him pray every morning was a life changing experience for me."
I will never forget one of my brothers picking up a banana from his kitchen. As he began eating it, my grandfather stopped him right away and asked, "Did you pray before you began to eat that banana?" He was notorious for stopping anywhere at any time to pray - out loud. We always knew what was on my grandpa's heart because he would never pray a silent prayer, it always had to be out loud, and most of the time it was very loud.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
If you spent any amount of time with my grandpa, there would be no doubt that he influenced your life. He made you take a close look at your life to see what you were really living for. I think it is no coincidence that the first verse in the Treasure Path to Soul Wining book is, Life is Brief: James 4: 14 "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." J.O. lived 86 years on this earth, but it was still like a vapor in comparison to eternity.
He made every day of his life count for what really matters on this earth. One of his good friends, Pastor Jerry Mitchell from Norwalk, CA, recently wrote this about my grandfather.
"J.O. Grooms is truly among the greatest of the saints of God. His zeal and passion to serve Christ, his love for the souls of men, his humility, his inner confidence, his Scripture memorization, his inspiring preaching of the Word, they were all right at the top of the list. I've been privileged to rub shoulders with some great men, but none greater than J.O. Grooms."
As I close this letter, I think about how my grandfather is now enjoying being in the presence of God. The picture that comes to mind so often is that when he arrived into heaven on Monday evening, there was a line a mile long of people from many different tribes, tongues and nations. They were waiting in line to thank him for unashamedly sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.