Eddie Johnson had stopped at Robo’s Drive-In restaurant in rural southwest Virginia for a burger and fries, but he got far more than that.
An unexpected encounter with a team of Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief workers at the roadside restaurant would lead to Johnson rededicating his life to Christ and four others accepting Jesus as their Savior.
“Our meeting was no accident,” said Johnson, a disabled coal miner who had grown up in church but had strayed away later in life. “It was meant to be. God put them and us here in the same place at the same time for that to happen.”
Nearly 40 Georgia Baptists had been deployed to central Appalachia to help in the aftermath of flashing flooding that killed 38 people and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
Members of one of the GBDR crews decided to stop for a quick meal on their way into the flood zone. They found Robo’s, a throwback to earlier generations when the custom was to drive in, walk to a small window to place an order and wait for it to be cooked up. The restaurant’s popularity is reflected in the crowded parking lot where people lean against pickup trucks as they talk and eat.
Robo’s has no dining room, but there are two wooden picnic tables off to one side.
Longtime GBDR volunteer Chris Fuller took a seat at one of the tables and struck up a conversation with Johnson and his 22-year-old son, Hunter. Fuller’s teammates, Ronnie Register and his wife Linda, joined the conversation, which quickly turned to the gospel.
While Johnson recommitted his life to Christ, Hunter said he wasn’t ready to make a decision. After finishing their meals, they went their separate ways.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Not done yet
Back at home that evening, Johnson explained, the conversation with the Georgia Baptists was bearing on Hunter. He couldn’t get it off his mind.
For a diversion, he looked at Facebook. His feed seemed to be filled with church posts. He looked at TikTok. More of the same. Each one of them seemed to be speaking directly to him.
“He looked at me and, with tears in his eyes, said ‘I need to be saved,’ ” Johnson said.
It was nearly 10 p.m. The Johnsons, along with one of Hunter’s friends, jumped into a vehicle and drove to Calvary Baptist Church in Pound, where the Georgia Baptists had set up a basecamp.
Both Hunter and his friend prayed to receive Christ that night.
Johnson said the Georgia Baptists triggered a domino effect that also led to Hunter’s grandmother and his girlfriend making salvation decisions.
Fuller said the GBDR volunteers are always vigilant for people with spiritual needs when they’ve been deployed to disaster areas.
“When people experience the raw power of nature, they can’t help but look to God,” Fuller said. “In times like that when people are feeling helpless, they realize their need for God.”
While in central Appalachia to help with the flood cleanup, Georgia Baptist teams led 17 people to faith in Christ.
That means more than 50 people have been introduced to Christ by GBDR crews responding to disaster areas since last year.
“We pray for opportunities to share the gospel, not only with actions but with words,” Fuller said. “If you pray for those opportunities, then God will give you those opportunities.”