What were you doing during Christmastime 10 years ago? You may have to reach far back in your memory, and the details may be a little fuzzy. But the details are not at all fuzzy for Chris Ballard. The night he saw the Singing Christmas Tree 10 years ago is not hard for him to remember—that night he made a decision that changed the course of his life.
Chris had already made the most important decision, accepting Jesus as his Savior, when he was young. But when he and his wife reached their young adult years, they began to drift away from their faith and the church. Despite growing up at Bellevue, they hadn’t attended in a long time. They had no plans of returning. Then Chris’ grandfather offered them Singing Christmas Tree tickets, and Chris and his wife hesitantly agreed to go.
As Chris sat in the Worship Center and watched the Gospel message unfold during the presentation, he had a strange feeling.
“I felt out of place and a little uncomfortable like, ‘I don’t belong here anymore,’” Chris said. “I’m not living for the Lord. I’m not walking with Him. It was just a weird conviction.”
At the end of Act 2, Bellevue’s Pastor, Steve Gaines, walked on stage to present the clear path to salvation, and Chris thought, “I know the Gospel. I got this. I’m good.” But the Lord wasn’t finished working in Chris’ heart, and Bro. Steve wasn’t finished talking. Pastor began speaking to those who already knew the Lord but had been running from Him.
“I felt like he was talking directly to me,” Chris said.
Bro. Steve’s words echoed in Chris’ head and heart. Chris knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. His wife reached down and squeezed his hand, and he knew this was the moment he would stop running and turn back to God.
“God used that moment to bring me back to Him and put me on the path of living for Him instead of myself,” Chris said.
This moment marked a sharp turn for Chris and his wife, but getting back into their faith and church was a slow process. It started with simply going to a worship service on Sundays. But that routine left them feeling disconnected, so they joined a Life Group and started discipleship. That involvement led Chris and his wife to consistently serve in Children’s Ministry.
At the time, Chris had a satisfying, well-paying job, but it didn’t feel right. He felt a pull toward something deeper. However, he set that feeling aside for a few years until Ken Hindman, Bellevue Pastor of Preschool and Children’s Ministry, asked if Chris had considered full-time ministry. Chris knew he could no longer overlook his desire for something more meaningful, and he accepted a part-time role with 4th+5th Grade Ministry and later took on a full-time role as Assistant Director.
“I think it’s just been a gradual letting go of the things I wanted or the things I’d been chasing after and opening up to the things that God had for me,” Chris said.
Even now, the Lord is calling Chris deeper. What Chris thought would just be ministry at Bellevue has turned into a call to long-term international missions. In March 2024, Chris, his wife, and their four kids will head to Kenya, where they will be missionaries for three years. Much like that night 10 years ago at Singing Christmas Tree, Chris can feel the Lord’s prompting to follow Him, and Chris and his family are open to His will.
“He spoke to me at Singing Christmas Tree,” Chris said. “I gave Him an inch, and He just took hold of me.”