How a funeral was the catalyst for one family’s salvation story.

Twenty-five years ago, Sue Pierce had a vision. Her husband, Tim, and his family were not living for Christ, and she felt extremely alone in her prayers for them. But the Lord showed her that someday Tim’s family would “fall like dominoes before His throne, from the oldest to the youngest.”

It felt like a far-off dream, especially when the victories seemed few and far between. When Tim made Jesus the Lord of his life six years ago, Sue celebrated the long-awaited transformation in his life, and now united stronger than ever, she and Tim waited and prayed for more dominoes. Then, two years ago, they finally started seeing Sue’s vision fulfilled in a more dramatic way. Yet the catalyst for such change was the most unlikely thing imaginable: a funeral.

Right before Easter weekend, Tim’s sister-in-law’s mother passed away, and the funeral service was held at the NRH Campus. The extended family was invited, including Tim’s oldest brother, JR, who, after a hurtful experience at a church when he was younger, never wanted to attend another one. As JR opened the doors to the NRH Campus, he stopped mid-step with a gasp, but he continued into the building for the funeral. The whole family was amazed by the attention and care from every Gateway person they encountered, and after the service, JR told his wife, Jill, that he needed to come back. “I didn’t recognize it then, but when I opened those doors for the first time, the Holy Spirit’s presence hit me. The Lord got my attention,” says JR. “I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”

A week later, Tim and Sue invited the family to Easter services at Gateway. Every year the family made excuses why they couldn’t go, but this year was different. While some of the family was still hesitant, JR’s excitement and interest as well as Tim’s recent transformation seemed to change their minds. Twenty-two family members attended with Tim and Sue, and during the altar call, JR knew why he came back to church. “I was hanging on Pastor Robert’s every word, and when he invited people to accept the Lord and come to the front, I had this overwhelming feeling I was supposed to do that,” says JR. “I couldn’t wait to get up there!” Two of his grandkids followed him to the altar to accept Christ as well. And a round of dominoes fell.

JR’s son-in-law, Jason, and his wife, Jennifer, came to Gateway on that Easter Sunday as well, and it was the first time Jason ever wanted to go back to a church a second time. “For years, I just had so many unanswered questions. Before, I would go to church with my wife, Jennifer, and the whole time I was wondering when we were going to leave,” Jason says. “But at Gateway, I felt comfortable and not judged.” Two weeks later, Jason raised his hand in a Gateway service to receive the Lord. Jennifer, who had been praying for and dreaming of this day for almost 20 years, was thrilled to finally see it happen. “Gateway was the open door to the Lord reaching my husband and my family,” Jennifer says. “What I’ve seen happen in their lives is truly amazing.”

Soon after Easter, JR got baptized. His family began to see change in him, and it rippled out from there. Every week after that, the Pierce family continued to fill a section at the NRH Campus, and by the time summer rolled around, several more Pierces gave their lives to Christ and got baptized, including Jason, who had the opportunity to baptize his two children as well. “For a while it felt like every baptism event Gateway had, somebody in our family was getting in the pool!” Sue says.

Now, every weekend, you’ll see at least a few Pierces sitting together during the service at Gateway NRH or serving with big smiles. JR welcomes people to the campus on a golf cart in addition to helping Jason and Jennifer prepare communion once a month. “From the moment I stepped into Gateway, I felt at ease,” says JR. “It’s like going to a family member’s house. Everyone at Gateway is family. I love to try to meet someone new each time I serve because no one is a stranger.”

Sue and Tim, now a deacon, serve with their two sons as often as possible and love spending time with his family and watching them fall like dominoes before the Lord, knowing more are on their way. “There were days when I almost gave up,” Sue says. “But God answered my prayers. He moved mountains for my family. And to anyone else who is waiting for breakthrough, be encouraged: God keeps His promises.”