Kyle Turner was getting ready for an early Saturday morning My Hope with Billy Graham golf tournament in November when his wife, Darlene, came running to him with panic in her eyes. Her father, Bramlett Moore, who was staying with them for a few days, had slept in the back bedroom the prior evening and had gone to bed not feeling well. Darlene cried out that something was terribly wrong.
The two tried to rouse Mr. Moore, but he didn’t respond. “He was gone,” Kyle remembered. “He passed away in his sleep.”
Kyle, the pastor of Oak Crest Baptist Church in Greenville, quickly telephoned some of his leaders and asked them to go to the nearby Summersett Golf Club and get the tournament going with the 80 to 90 golfers who would be showing up. He said he hoped to be there when they finished around 12:30 p.m. to show them Billy Graham’s Gospel message, “The Cross,” and talk to them about how they could have a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“I knew I would have to leave that up to Darlene and how she felt about me leaving her several hours later,” Kyle said.
When that time came, Darlene, in the midst of pressing arrangements, urged her husband to go and speak to the men about eternal life in Christ and Christ alone.
Kyle knows how to speak to golfers. His father, Paul, was a club pro. His sister, Sherri, toured with the Ladies Professional Golf Association for about 25 years. And he played at Anderson College and was moving toward a golf career when God called him into the pastorate in 1994.
“Most of these guys know a lot about golf but little about the Lord,” Kyle said.
When the 80-plus golfers jammed into the club’s grill built for about 50, Kyle greeted them. He told them about the death of his father-in-law and that he knew where Mr. Moore was now because Kyle had the privilege of leading him to Christ six years before.
Then they watched “The Cross.”
“Their eyes were on the video screen, and I could tell they were just taking in what Mr. Graham was saying.”
Afterward, Kyle asked those who wanted to give their lives to Jesus Christ to come forward. “I knew it would be very, very difficult to make a public profession of faith in front of their peers, but I wanted them to really mean it,” he explained.
Seven men did. “Included in that group was a young man whose family has had a checkered past,” Kyle said. “Another was a man who was identified as one of the vilest men out on the course. When it came time to make a commitment, he looked at the guy beside him and said, ‘Get out of my way, I’ve got to go forward!’ ”
When Kyle told Darlene later that day what God had done in the lives of those golfers, she praised the Lord. “She was excited for all that God did,” he said.
And Kyle was thankful for the opportunity God gave him to convey the Good News. “I always thought that I was being brought up to be a professional golfer, but I think God had a greater purpose in it,” Kyle explained. “While my dream didn’t come true, I think God’s vision for golf in my life has come true.”
— Richard Greene is assistant editor of Decision Magazine, where this article was first published in February. Reprinted with permission.