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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Keith Reid

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Keith Reid


John Bradshaw - Conversation with Keith Reid
TOPICS: Conversations

He is an MIT-trained chemical engineer and also a soul-winner, sharing Jesus all day every day. His name is Keith Reid, I'm John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation.


John Bradshaw: Keith Reid, thanks for being here. Welcome to "Conversations".

Keith Reid: It's a pleasure being here, John.

John Bradshaw: Blessing to see you again.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: We have a lot of ground to cover. You have one of the most exciting jobs known to humankind, at least the way I see exciting jobs. But you didn't start where you are today. You started way back there. So let's go way back there.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Where were you born and raised? Where are you from?

Keith Reid: New York, I grew up in the Bronx and Long Island. And I had two younger brothers and an older sister. And so we, we worked and did, had a lot of fun together.

John Bradshaw: Were you raised in a Christian home?

Keith Reid: No, we weren't raised in a Christian home.

John Bradshaw: So no Christian frame of reference?

Keith Reid: Well, my mother was Canadian, and when she moved to New York, she had an Episcopalian -Anglican background.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And so the church that was most familiar with the Anglican church was the Episcopal church. So I was christened, and we would go to church on Christmas and sometimes Easter and some of the holidays, but it wasn't a regular thing from Sunday to Sunday.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Keith Reid: That was my reference, yeah.

John Bradshaw: So I think of a family of kids growing up in the Bronx, and, you know, I don't know what to think. Were they rough streets, mean streets, average streets? Was it a pretty typical upbringing, or were there real challenges peculiar to your upbringing, or what?

Keith Reid: No, not really. It was, we moved from the Bronx at an early... I was fairly young when we moved from the Bronx to Long Island.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Keith Reid: And so it was actually before my youngest brother was born. And so in Long Island, I mean, I'd walk down the street, and we'd have a little pond down there, a little park, and I'd go fishing. And it was, it wasn't quite like the Bronx.

John Bradshaw: Okay, yeah, yeah.

Keith Reid: And so, I mean, it was fairly sane.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Well, somewhere along the line, there were some pretty significant changes that took place in your life. But before we get to the changes, let's talk about your academic path or progress. You wound up at MIT. Not the school everybody goes to, that is a prestigious school.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: You studied chemical engineering at MIT. So how did you get from Long Island to MIT?

Keith Reid: Okay, well, my dad was, he attended Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, in Virginia. And he was there for a couple of years. Then he went into the navy. But he had a passion for anything that was mechanical: cars, photography, anything that worked. He just loved talking about cars and the way things worked.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And so he would have little mechanical drawings, and he would show us how things work and explaining about engines and about the four-cycle engines and two-cycle engines. And, you know, typically fathers don't do that kind of thing...

John Bradshaw: Right.

Keith Reid: ...but he just enjoyed it, and it kind of spilled over into us, you know. We all had a kind of a proclivity toward engineering and toward math. Most of us did.

John Bradshaw: So your siblings kind of leaned in that direction as well?

Keith Reid: Well, yeah, my brother followed after me, and he went to MIT as well.

John Bradshaw: Mmm.

Keith Reid: My sister could have, but she chose to go music and law. My youngest brother, he tried to put on the engineering armor. And for the first year he was studying engineering, but he says, "No, not for me".

John Bradshaw: Wasn't for him.

Keith Reid: So he went toward the arts and communications and that sort of thing, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah. So MIT, tell me a little bit about that experience. It's got to be a kind of a heady experience, being on an academic institution that is, well, it's world renowned. I expect the academic standard has to be pretty strenuous.

Keith Reid: Pretty high, yes, yes. Fortunately, because of my math background and because of my dad and his influence, I did very well in math and science. And in fact, after eighth grade, I had an opportunity to go to another school, had to be bused from Roosevelt, Long Island, to East Meadow, Long Island, to attend a school that offered engineering courses like mechanical, electrical, architecture. So I took a test, and I passed. And so I transferred to this school. I think it was 10th, 11th and 12th grade.

John Bradshaw: Oh!

Keith Reid: And so I chose electrical engineering. And...

John Bradshaw: You started zeroing in that as a high schooler?

Keith Reid: Yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: Interesting.

Keith Reid: Yeah, so doing that, along with the arts and music and playing in the band and running track. I mean, it was kind of an all-around student.

John Bradshaw: Now, you didn't have time to get in trouble.

Keith Reid: I guess not.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And so I did that. And of course, you know, because of that type of school, having that foundation and because of my grades, I had... I mean, the world was open to me. I applied to several schools, got accepted to several engineering schools...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...and colleges, and MIT was one of them. And...

John Bradshaw: Look, you mentioned a moment ago running track, and I don't want to skip by that too much. So you were an athlete, or it was just something you did, or was there ever a moment that you said, "You know what, I think I'll pursue track and field"?

Keith Reid: No, never got to that point.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Keith Reid: I just enjoyed running. It was something...

John Bradshaw: Probably a good thing you didn't get to that point.

Keith Reid: Yeah, it was, yeah. Yeah, I enjoyed running. In fact, when I was growing up in my little neighborhood in Roosevelt, we played touch football all the time. So I was a pretty good runner. So, yeah, I did that. And so MIT was one of them. Now, one of my teachers, my high school teachers told me that because MIT attracts a lot of really top-notch individuals, you got accepted, but once you go there, you're gonna feel like a little peanut amongst a lot of geniuses, you know? So I guess his concern was that I would not get discouraged, I would not flunk out, and so he encouraged me to go to a lesser school...

John Bradshaw: Oh!

Keith Reid: ...where I could be, you know, the top of my class.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And I understood his thinking, but it affected me in my thinking. I was a little intimidated...

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Keith Reid: ...by MIT. But my dad, because of his experience and his understanding about engineering and about... they always stressed education in our family. You know, he would teach us and help us to memorize something that would kind of keep us going. He said, "Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe in, and most enthusiastically go after, it must inevitably come to pass". So he had us memorize that. And he would say, "The word 'can't' should not be in your vocabulary".

John Bradshaw: Before we talk more about you, tell me more about this dad of yours. He sounds like a remarkable individual.

Keith Reid: Yes, he was.

John Bradshaw: Am I overstating this?

Keith Reid: No.

John Bradshaw: Or maybe I'm understating.

Keith Reid: He was an excellent father. Great mentor, not just to us, but also kids in the community.

John Bradshaw: Oh, yeah?

Keith Reid: Always asking them what they want to be when they grow up and picking them up in his arms and just telling them that they could be somebody.

John Bradshaw: So where did this come from in your dad?

Keith Reid: Well, my dad was of Jamaican origin. My mother was Canadian, as I mentioned, but her family's from Barbados. And, you know, with Jamaica is, you know, they do have the "no problem," but they also teach to "aim straight, keep your powder dry, and," you know, "aim high". So that was kind of his thinking. He did not want his kids to experience some of the same things that he experienced, where he was not accepted. I mean, his desire was to go to film, to be a filmmaker.

John Bradshaw: Interesting.

Keith Reid: Yeah, he loved photography. You should see some of the pictures. We were going through them recently, just professional pictures that he took in his own home studio.

John Bradshaw: But that didn't work out for him, why?

Keith Reid: Because of prejudice and not having the opportunities. So he ended up going into the navy. He ended up becoming a policeman, and a very good one. He became, you know, a uniformed policeman, then he graduated to a detective, a plain-clothes detective, and then he got into the narcotics. So he was very motivated to do well and be the best at what he was doing. So he did it; he showed by example...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...what you can do when you apply yourself.

John Bradshaw: You know, it's interesting that he was deprived of certain opportunities, but it seemed like he was determined to encourage his children to believe that they could just do anything they wanted.

Keith Reid: That's right, that's right.

John Bradshaw: What a fantastic legacy.

Keith Reid: Oh, I'll tell you. I mean, I had such a relationship with him. We would have daddy-and-son time, and we'd go into the city, New York, and go to sporting events and just spend time together. And I remember jumping down... I used to jump down a flight of stairs into his arms when we'd go visit my grandmother. Now, of course, one time I jumped, and he wasn't looking.

John Bradshaw: Oh!

Keith Reid: But somebody, somebody told him I was flying through the air, so he turned around just in time to catch me. But that was the kind of relationship I had with him, and he was my hero. And so I believe that later on, it translated to my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

John Bradshaw: Nice, nice.

Keith Reid: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay, let's get back to MIT. There are some people trying to talk you out of it.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: So you got on to the campus, and you started attending classes. And these, I mean, this is a weighty discipline. And it should be, too. You know, you want your engineers to be strenuously taught and very well trained. So how'd you do? Was it a struggle, or did you find you just settled into a groove pretty easily?

Keith Reid: Well, I just want to back up a little bit with my dad.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: When I told him what this teacher had told me about...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...kind of discouraging me from going to MIT, my dad, bless his heart, he said, "Do you realize what this is"? when I showed him the letter of acceptance. We were sitting in the car in the front of the house. "Do you realize what this is"? So he painted a picture of something that, this is valuable, this is gold. This is an opportunity...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...that you can't miss out on. So he kind of turned my thinking around and said, "Go ahead," you know.

John Bradshaw: He must have been very proud.

Keith Reid: Oh yes.

John Bradshaw: His head just about must have exploded when he had two sons went to MIT.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Oh, fantastic, that's very inspiring.

Keith Reid: But as far as your question's concerned, was it difficult? Yes, it was very difficult, but that leveling course that I took during the summer, it was, enabled individuals who did not have the advantages in their high school that other people had. They had the knowhow, they had, you know, the brains, but they didn't have some of the, you know, the things that were available to other students, so...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: It was during that summer we took physics, we took math, calculus, I believe it was chemistry, some of the courses that we'd be taking as a freshman, so when it came time for the beginning of school, we were familiar with the campus, we had taken some of the classes, so it was just, you know, like we were home again. So my freshman year was pretty much a breeze because of that leveling program.

John Bradshaw: Nice.

Keith Reid: Yeah, so it was tremendous.

John Bradshaw: Well, today you're very much involved in Christian ministry and in mentoring other Christian ministers. Again, you know, there's a bridge we're gonna cross here, but let's talk about what happened after MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By the way, did you enjoy Boston?

Keith Reid: Yes, I did, very much.

John Bradshaw: Great city, isn't it?

Keith Reid: Oh yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: So it was a fun place to live?

Keith Reid: And Cambridge, yeah, I rowed in the Charles River...

John Bradshaw: Get out!

Keith Reid: ...in the crew team, yeah.

John Bradshaw: You rowed for MIT?

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: This story just gets better and better.

Keith Reid: Yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: So you rowed, so you rowed at MIT. That's just fantastic. Hey, listen, what other surprises do you have for me? I was not expecting that.

Keith Reid: Well, martial arts, did martial arts, ran track, as I mentioned, rowed on the crew team...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...played in the jazz ensemble.

John Bradshaw: Oh, you did?

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, what did you play?

Keith Reid: Trumpet and flugelhorn, yes.

John Bradshaw: You know, your dad, or your mom too, managed to inculcate into you an appreciation for an enormous array of disciplines. Were you one of these students who struggled to get everything done because you were doing too much? Or somehow you were disciplined enough to be able to master it all?

Keith Reid: Well, it wasn't easy...

John Bradshaw: Right.

Keith Reid: ...getting through MIT. But we had support. We would get together, study groups, do problem sets together. And so it made things a lot easier. There were a lot of all-nighters that I pulled to get some work done and prepare for exams. But I did fairly well, you know what I mean?

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: Yes, I made it.

John Bradshaw: You did fairly well.

Keith Reid: And I had to do a thesis at the end of my freshman year. Typically it's for graduate school you have to do a thesis.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Keith Reid: But MIT, it required a thesis for my undergraduate degree. So I chose one in material science and engineering because it was practical.

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Keith Reid: It was something to do with preparing or developing paper for a speaker. And yeah, it was, I did a lot of experiments with that, you know, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Fantastic. When you graduated, or when you were approaching graduation from MIT, did you know where you were going? Did you know what you were doing? Or was your future a little uncertain?

Keith Reid: Well, I was accepted at the DuPont company. I worked for them one summer, and they liked me, and they wanted me to come back. And so, as far as career is concerned, I knew the direction I was going. But it was during my senior year that I began to think about my future spiritually, believe it or not. There were some things that happened to me in my senior year that kind of opened my eyes and helped me to see the need for a relationship with Christ.

John Bradshaw: What can you tell me about those things? You were raised in essentially a secular home, a strong home, a home with good values.

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Where in the world did these thoughts come from that you need to start thinking about your spiritual life?

Keith Reid: Well, one thing, there was love in my home. And where there's love, there's God.

John Bradshaw: Mmm.

Keith Reid: And so I never heard anybody speaking negatively about God and religion and church. My dad was open to whatever we wanted to get involved in. I did visit churches of friends. They all seemed the same to me, the different churches.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Keith Reid: I even had a couple of Jewish buddies, and I attended some bar mitzvahs. But it wasn't uppermost in my mind in terms of something that had to be a part of me. But in my senior year, things started happening. It seemed like every day something providential would happen. Like, we'd call them divine appointments now.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And it seemed like something would happen that would turn my mind to God and religion. And there was one situation where one of my drinking buddies... we had a 24-hour library upstairs in the student center, and we had a 24-hour coffee house. So we'd come down and get our coffee fix, caffeine fix, and then go back up to the library and continue doing study. But one night, late at night, I met my buddy, who I used to drink with, and he was telling me what he was gonna do after he graduated. He said he was gonna go to the seminary. He's a chemical engineer as well. I said, "Seminary"? "Yeah," he said, "I'm gonna study for the ministry".

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Keith Reid: I said, "Why is that"? He says, "I've been born again". I said, "You mean you don't do this anymore or that anymore"? He says, "No, no. The Lord gave me the victory over that". And I just couldn't believe my ears, but I wanted what he had. And so that was one situation. And then there was the Campus Crusade for Christ. They were handing out Bibles, New Testament Good News Bibles on campus. I guess they were literature evangelists.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, there you go.

Keith Reid: And so I was so ignorant of the Bible, when I took it back to my dormitory room, I read, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". I'm familiar with that, but it's in the Bible? And then I would read another book of the gospels, and I found that quote again. I said, "Interesting". And then I would turn to "The PTL Club" and "The 700 Club" on TV. And I'd be just drawn by those testimonies of individuals whose lives were changed. And I'd turn the channel, and then I'd find myself turning back to that. So the Holy Spirit was working in my life, just kind of drawing me, 'cause I was searching. You know, I was looking for something better. But, you know, I didn't know what.

John Bradshaw: Fascinating. Were you ever aware that there was an aunt or somebody praying for you in the background?

Keith Reid: No, no.

John Bradshaw: This is a fascinating story, isn't it? About how the Spirit of God reaches out to a young person and prods and draws and... invests. And there you were, you were starting to reach back.

Keith Reid: Yes, so I determined that when I graduated, I was gonna move to Delaware and work for DuPont, but I was gonna find a church home. And that was one of my goals. And get a black belt in karate.

John Bradshaw: I wanna ask you about both of those things in just a moment. His name is Keith Reid. I'm John Bradshaw. More from our conversation in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My special guest, Keith Reid, an evangelist, we'll tell you more about that in just a moment. But moments ago, there you were at a very secular educational institution. I don't mean that in a critical sense.

Keith Reid: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Not the sort of place that you would anticipate somebody without a strong religious background would encounter Christ, but encounter God you did. And you mentioned that once you graduated from MIT, your intent was, when you went to work for DuPont in the state of Delaware, you were gonna find a church home.

Keith Reid: Yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: That's a pretty big step to take. What made you, what ripened you to the place you said, "I got to be going to church every week"?

Keith Reid: Well, as I mentioned before, there were things that were happening during my senior year. It just seemed like God was speaking to me through various situations. And also I was being blamed for things that I was not guilty of, you know? And I think about, as I look back now, it's like sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind.

John Bradshaw: Mmm.

Keith Reid: And I was just tired of that kind of life. And I just wanted a clean slate, to start all over again. So I didn't have a car. So I was taking two buses to get to work. But I looked in the Yellow Pages and found the Episcopal church. That's the one that I was most familiar with.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Keith Reid: And so I walked and hitchhiked my way to church that rainy Sunday morning. And when I got there, some nice people, but they invited me to breakfast after service. It was a guest priest who was there. And after we ate breakfast, he lit up a cigarette. Now, I didn't tell you that my dad was, he was back then considered, I guess, a health nut.

John Bradshaw: Oh really?

Keith Reid: I mean, he listened to health programs, and I'd say he believed in the seven natural remedies without the trust in divine power.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Keith Reid: And so he would always get us to crack our window a little bit so we'd get fresh air at night. He would watch us when we were sitting down and eating, and we started breathing heavy, you know, "You're full; you don't need anymore". You know...

John Bradshaw: How interesting.

Keith Reid: ...getting exercise and sunlight and all those good things. And so when I saw this priest after breakfast lighting up a cigarette, it just didn't sit right with me.

John Bradshaw: Right.

Keith Reid: And so the next week... and there weren't any young people there. So the next week I was gonna go to another church. But in the middle of the week, someone approached me near my apartment complex and invited me to an evangelistic meeting, a tent meeting. And I had in my mind, I had been influenced by some friends that these Black pastors who go into these communities were just kind of keeping the people down, oppressed, financially and otherwise...

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Keith Reid: ...you know, "the opium of the people" kind of thing.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: And so, and then I also had a picture of people kicking over chairs and foaming at the mouth, and tambourines and...

John Bradshaw: And that never really, that never appealed to you?

Keith Reid: No, so when she said, "I'd like to invite you to a tent meeting, evangelistic meeting," I said, "No, thank you". But one of the strangest things happened. She said, "I'm coming at seven o'clock to pick you up". And I said, "Okay," just like that.

John Bradshaw: Just like that?

Keith Reid: Just like that. And the Holy Spirit must have impressed her that I was searching. And so she picked me up. And she was a single mom with a couple of kids. It was an old Nova that she was driving. And to my surprise, when I got to that tent, nobody was kicking over chairs. Nobody was foaming at the mouth. The music was beautiful. You know, I was already a musician. So I was attracted to music. And the preacher spoke to my, not only my emotional and spiritual self, but also my logical, you know, I'm an engineer. So he's, you know, A plus B equals C, you know? And it made so much sense. And so I continued attending. And then they found out that I was taking two buses to get to work, and I basically needed a ride to get to work. So there was a lady, an older member of the church, who was also a single mother, who lived up in Philadelphia. And she would pass through where I lived to get to the same place where I worked; They worked at the same place.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?

Keith Reid: And she would... she just happened to be the Bible worker, a volunteer Bible worker for the evangelistic meeting. So I would have questions, and she would answer the questions using the Bible, or if she didn't have the answer, the next day she'd bring something that was copied or highlighted. And so we were having informal Bible studies on the way to work, just solidifying what I was learning.

John Bradshaw: On the way to work?

Keith Reid: Yeah, on the way to work.

John Bradshaw: Isn't it interesting, God knew just what you needed.

Keith Reid: Yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: Brought the right people at the right time.

Keith Reid: So that went on. And one day she called me up on the job and said, "Keith, we're having a baptism this weekend. Would you like to be a part of that baptism"? I says, "I want to be baptized, but my birthday is, like, a couple of weeks from today. And I'd like to, you know, schedule it for then, you know". She said, "Okay, so you're gonna be at the meeting tonight"? And I said, "Sure, I'll be there". And that night, as she said, the pastor made the appeal. His name was Fordham, by the way, Henry Fordham. Recently you probably read about him...

John Bradshaw: Yes, Henry Fordham.

Keith Reid: ...dying in the fire there...

John Bradshaw: Wow, how about that!

Keith Reid: ...with his wife.

John Bradshaw: And by the way, I shouldn't let you say that without saying, that was tragic.

Keith Reid: It was.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, he was a fine man of God. I had several conversations with him, and every time I walked away I felt like I was 10 feet tall, man!

Keith Reid: Oh yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: This was a man who knew how to encourage you, to lift you up like, wow, I want to talk to you again.

Keith Reid: Great preacher, and his wife, I still remember her singing, "Naaman the leper went down into the water. He came up shouting, 'O Lord, I feel the change!'"

John Bradshaw: Fantastic,

Keith Reid: Yeah, beautiful. So Pastor Fordham was doing the evangelistic meeting, and they were writing the scriptures on the board. And there I was, sitting in the front row, and he started his appeal at the close of his message. Brenda Cooper was singing, "Will I see Jesus as he is, or will I see him as an angry God"? You know?

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Keith Reid: The music just spoke to my heart. The preaching, the appeal spoke to my heart. And there I was, sitting with this big Jerusalem Bible on my lap, about the size of a telephone book in a major city. And I was holding it as though it was holding me down. And I just, for some reason, I just didn't want to go up there, but I knew I needed to. So finally, the Holy Spirit just impressed me. I put the Bible in somebody's lap. I don't know whose lap it was. And I says, "I'm going up there". And I felt the peace that passes understanding once I got up there. But the thing that I'll never forget...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: ...was Jackie, the Bible instructor. The lights came on in the tent, and she came from the back with a tear streaming down her cheek. And I still get choked up thinking about that. She came down the front. She said, "I was back there praying for you". So those kind of things, you think of the scripture in Psalm 126, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him".

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Keith Reid: So that was indelibly printed on my heart and in my mind. And we're still in touch with each other. She became a full-time Bible instructor for a conference and got paid for doing something that she was doing voluntarily.

John Bradshaw: What a fantastic experience.

Keith Reid: She showed up at our wedding, too.

John Bradshaw: Yeah? Oh, beautiful, yeah. So you were living in Delaware. You were baptized; you became part of the church. You're not becoming a worker in the church. And after all the years of study, and the... I mean, look, that's a great achievement. You achieved some fantastic things academically, just not run-of-the-mill stuff.

Keith Reid: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: This is outstanding. But you ended up deciding to transition away from a career in chemical engineering...

Keith Reid: Yes.

John Bradshaw: ...working for one of the... I don't think it's a stretch to say one of the world's premier companies.

Keith Reid: Yes, DuPont, yes, mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: To enter into a profession that was decidedly less certain, and... Tell me how you made that decision. What happened?

Keith Reid: Well...

John Bradshaw: And by the way, you ended up in literature evangelism, which is magnificent work, but you could have ended up in something a whole lot more stock standard and predictable...

Keith Reid: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: ...such as pastoral ministry.

Mm-hmm.

So there was something about literature evangelism and the call of God on your life that enabled you to say, "I am gonna transition out of..."

Mm-hmm.

...this magnificent career and do something that my father might think is crazy".

Yes.

Let's cross that bridge now.

Well, you know, when I joined the church, accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I hit the ground running.

Yeah.

I joined the choir. I joined the quartet. I went door to door doing community work. And every time, as far as possible, when the doors of the church were open, I was there. And so I just was falling in love more and more with Jesus. And I began to see how maybe I could fit in and get involved with evangelism and helping people to experience what I experienced. So my job transferred me from Delaware to the New England area. And it was more marketing with engineering plastics.

Okay.

So I would visit the customers of DuPont, and I would service them and provide technical service, provide anything they needed. If we needed some of the heavyweights from the company to come up and see them, then I would arrange for that. I would take 'em out to lunch, take 'em out to breakfast and dinner and hockey games, just, you know, they gave us a budget for that. They gave me a company car, an expense account, so I could do those kind of things. It was a gravy... not gravy meaning easy, but it was the ideal job.

Yep.

Working from home, setting my own appointments, and not having really to report to the office but maybe two or three times a year, down to Wilmington. So, I was my own boss, and I had pretty much all of upstate New York. And so that was my work. But I began to... I found a local church there in Connecticut, and I got involved there just like I was down in Delaware. And the more I got involved in seeing evangelism, attending evangelistic meetings, I wanted to take some time off to experience that, to give Bible studies, to, you know, like, a full time... full time, maybe six weeks or something like that...

Yeah.

...or a couple of months...

Okay.

...or something like that, tried to get a leave of absence from DuPont, but they wouldn't allow me to get a leave of absence to do Bible work. And so...

They hadn't had that request very often, by the way.

No, not at all, not at all.

That was a new one for them.

So, just this longing desire inside of me to do full-time evangelism kept growing. It got to the point where I didn't want to go out and work anymore. I mean, it was a struggle to get out and go because my heart was in the Lord's ministry. So I talked to my pastor there at the Faith Church in Hartford. It was Jonathan Thompson was the pastor at the time. I said, "I believe God is calling me to full-time ministry, but I don't know what". And so he began to delineate the different kinds of ministry: "You can become a pastor; you can become a teacher at one of our institutions; you can become a Bible worker". And then he described literature evangelism, and my heart just kind of burned within me.

Is that right?

That's what I want to do. I was already kind of in marketing. You know, I was on the road a lot.

There you go, yeah.

And so it just seemed to fit perfectly with what I had been doing. And my dad was kind of an entrepreneur, too. Even though he was in the police department, he did some other things. He got involved with different kinds of work that involved, you know, running his own business. And so I saw him getting involved with that kind of thing. So some of that probably rubbed off as well.

Uh-huh.

And so I battle with that for a whole year, trying to decide, you know, what am I going to do? And so I wrote letters to Jackie, who was, you know, she was now in a different state somewhere.

Yeah.

And I said, "This is what's happening in my life". She wrote me some things, Henry Wright, you probably heard of him.

Oh sure.

He was down at Oakwood at the time as a professor.

Yeah.

I wrote him, 'cause I had met him before. He was gonna be an engineer, too, before he went into the ministry. So he could relate to what I was going through. And I put all this together; I took a day off of work, went out to a park and prayed, and just impressed that it was time for me to leave DuPont and to go into full-time ministry. So that's... I put in my notice; they wanted me to reconsider, to get off the, "Maybe you're on the road too much. Maybe you want an office job". And they gave me different options. But I says, "No, this is, this is", and I would tell them "ministry". They wouldn't understand selling books...

Right.

...doing canvassing, just going into ministry. And they finally said, "Well, it seems like you got your mind made up". And I put in my notice, and I left. And so I had to give up the company car.

Right.

I had a mortgage, and I didn't have a car. So...but there was public transportation.

All right.

And I believe that God had called me to this work, you know. When the pastor told me about literature evangelism, he said, "You can go to the conference office and talk to the conference president, and maybe he can help you out there". It was a Friday. I didn't know they closed at noon. So I got there right about closing time. The conference president was sitting in the lobby, and I told him why I was there. He said, "Well, the publishing director, he's probably, he may have left already, but go up to XYZ floor and you might find him there". I pressed the button for the elevator, it opened, and there was the publishing director. We went back up into his office, and he explained more about the literature ministry.

And where was this? What city were you in now?

That was in Queens, New York.

Yeah, okay.

That was where the Northeastern Conference...yeah. Yeah, and so it was just, every step of the way was just kind of sealing the deal, you know.

And you sensed that?

Oh yes, yes. I believe that God had called me to the literature ministry.

Okay, now take about two minutes here, we've got about two minutes left for now, and explain the literature ministry, literature evangelism.

It's not something that is something new. It's been around. I discovered later on after becoming a literature evangelist that there were literature evangelists during the Reformation. Martin Luther would not only preach, but he would do his writings. And monks who were converted to his teachings would sell some of the pamphlets and booklets...

Right.

...that he wrote. So they were called bold colporteurs. The word "colporteur" is like a peddler, someone who peddles books. But nowadays we call it literature evangelists. So it's something that helped to stir the flame of the Reformation. And so it continues today. And so it's basically going house to house, person to person, and giving them an invitation to purchase books that will point them to Jesus, children's books, like the famous blue Bible story books that many people see...

Oh yeah.

...in their doctor's office...

Sure.

...health books, and then adult reference books as well. And so we would present that to the individuals, make an opportunity, give them an opportunity to purchase them and come up with a payment plan that would, so that they could purchase some materials.

What did your dad say?

Well, he told me that, "Keith, whatever you have put your hands to, you've been successful". I later found out that he was upset, but he didn't let me know.

He didn't tell you?

He encouraged me to do what I was doing.

Wow.

And when I would come down to Queens to pick up books to take up to my literature evangelists, he would see my car laden with books, trunk, the back seat, the front seat. And he said that, I mean, he had to admit that something was happening: "You're being successful in this work".

And you met with success initially?

Oh yes, yes, I did, I did.

Fantastic.

Yeah, I did. I didn't know my canvas, and that's a no-no when it comes to literature evangelism.

That's right.

But the district leader had such a large territory, upstate New York and all of New England.

Wow.

He had very little time to train me. But again, I knew I was called. It's like a marriage, you know? You know that God called you, and that he is going to make a way. And so he came down and worked with me a few times. He was trilingual. He spoke French; he was Haitian. He spoke fluent Spanish, and he spoke broken English. And so I saw him give a couple of canvases in Spanish, maybe one or two canvases in English. And, but I saw his body language, the way he dealt with the people, and I learned from that. But I would have to say that the Lord taught me literature evangelism. And I was writing receipts on the wrong receipt pad. The book, the order form that you use to order your books for your inventory, I was writing receipts on. That was my receipt pad. But the Lord, in spite of my mistakes and fumbling, the Lord blessed tremendously. And within six months, I was promoted to district leader for northern New England.

Fantastic. And that's what God does. You know, you may not have all the dots in the right place or the T's crossed just perfectly. God's looking for willing heart...

Yes.

...teachable spirit, somebody who's ready to put themselves out there. Literature evangelism stories are the best stories. So I'm gonna give you a moment to think about some great LE stories.

Yes.

They're so inspirational, and they're miraculous.

Amen.

He's Keith Reid, one-time engineer, well, perhaps you could say once an engineer, always an engineer. But now God is using Keith to engineer some of the most magnificent encounters of the Holy Spirit that you can imagine. We'll be back, more from our conversation, brought you by It Is Written, in just a moment.

Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Keith Reid, who is a literature evangelist. As a matter of fact, he's a leader of literature evangelists. And we've talked a little, Keith, about what literature evangelism is. It's giving people the opportunity to purchase books that are gonna point them to Christ. And you've been doing this a while, and you've been teaching people the art for a while. But being involved in LE work means that you have heard some of the greatest stories...

Yes.

...ever told of divine appointments and fantastic encounters. They're inspirational stories. All right, let's go.

Yes, yes. I remember one situation where I was on the cash program, where you don't deliver the books until the customer's paid for them. So we'd go back and we'd collect. And I still remember kids saying, "Mommy, it's the Bible man," you know. And just you build relationships in that kind of setting. And there was one lady, I just could not contact her. She made a down payment, she ordered the books, but I just couldn't reach her. I would knock on her door. And sometimes people just don't answer because they don't have the money.

Yup.

But finally I... well, my policy is, or it has been, that until they say, "No, I don't want you to come back anymore". I realize there's a great controversy going on.

That's right.

That the devil doesn't want them to get the books. The Lord wants them to get the books. So I'm an instrument in God's hand. And so I'm going to keep trying, because they're on life support, you know?

Yeah, that's right.

Yeah. I'm gonna keep trying until they say, "I don't want any more". So, finally she answered the door. She finished paying for the books. I still have this picture in my mind of her holding the books to her chest and saying, "Thank you so much for not giving up on me".

Nice.

That was so precious.

That's rewarding, isn't it?

Yes, yes.

Yeah.

And then the experiences, one of my favorite books was, is "Acts of the Apostles" in the Bible, but also the book "Acts of the Apostles" by E.G. White. And to me, that was just full of adventure.

Sure.

And I believe that my work was a continuation of the book of Acts. And so, again, in the beginning I did not have a vehicle. And so I would walk and catch buses. I had limited, I would limit my territory to two apartment complexes, very large. Back then we'd call 'em the projects.

Mm-hm...

You know, low-income, but there are a lot of units. So I could just get there and walk from house to house. And so I remember, you know, I believe what I was reading in "Acts of the Apostles," that we have the power of the Holy Ghost with us. And dogs are not the friendliest creatures to literature evangelists.

Mmm. Right.

And so I remember having a dog coming after me, and his intentions were not good. And I said, "In the name of Jesus, get out of here". And the dog turned around and ran with his tail between his legs, and he yelped like somebody stepped on him or something like that. So I'm not laughing at the dog's misfortune. Please don't think I would do that.

But it was tremendous to see that. And then there were times when I would, I had an appointment, I had to get to my appointment, but the bus wasn't running according to my schedule. It was in the evening and hard for anybody to really see me. I'm walking down the street with a briefcase. A gentleman stopped to pick me up. He had passed me, and he came back around. He said he was impressed to stop and pick me up and take me to where I needed to go.

Wow.

Just little things like that just showed me that God was with me, and he was helping me. There was another situation where I was in an apartment late. It was beyond the time that the buses would run. And so I realized I had a long walk back home with my briefcase.

Oh.

And I carried a lot of stuff in my briefcase.

Yeah, these briefcases, they're... the emphasis is on "case," not "brief".

That's right. It was a sample case that opens from the top.

Oh yeah.

So I'm coming out of the apartment, and there are a group of guys over on the other side of the street, and they were just kind of congregated together. I'm from New York. So that spells trouble, you know. Nothing else to do. And so I heard... I'm walking away from them toward the corner, and then I was gonna make a left. And I heard, "Yo"! Like that, and I'm thinking, I know they're talking to me, but my name is not Yo.

Yup.

So I'm gonna keep walking, and hopefully they'll give up, you know. "Yo, you with the case". So I knew.

All right.

That's me.

That's you.

And so I remember reading something about the Titanic and how if the Titanic had gone straight into the iceberg, it would have broken the ice, and it would be unscathed. Instead it tried to avoid the iceberg, and it tore a hole in the side, and the mighty Titanic sunk. So the Lord impressed me to walk toward the iceberg and go straight on to that group of young people, probably about, I don't know, eight or 10 of them or more. So I'm walking toward them, and they start spreading apart, you know, "Whoa, whoa," and pointing to the one who was doing all the talking. "He was the one, he was the one," they would say. And so I approached him, you know, straight faced, you know, then I smiled, and I stuck out my hand. I said, "I'm Pastor Reid," yeah, Pastor Reid, and shook their hand. And from that point on, they were my friends and my protectors when I was in that neighborhood.

Come on, really?

It was just tremendous to see how God worked...

Yeah.

....yeah, to move upon them. And then I was not doing literature evangelism at a time, I was actually doing some outreach for the local church that I was part of. And we were just to knock on doors and generate Bible studies, because there was gonna be an evangelistic meeting down the block in that neighborhood. So we knocked on one door, it was a Filipino lady with two kids there, or three kids, and she said she had been praying that... she was looking for a church, and she said... and looking for Bible studies. And she said, "The next person who knocks on my door, I'm gonna study with him". And we were the next people who knocked on her door, so...

And there you were.

...we gave Bible studies to her. We invited her to the evangelistic meeting. She was baptized. Her kids were not baptized right away, but eventually they were. At some point, she got word that her dad was sick unto death back in the Philippines.

Mmm.

So she ended up going back to the Philippines with her family. In fact, I drove her down to New York to spend the night at my parents' house so that we can get to Kennedy airport or LaGuardia, whichever airport it was.

Yeah.

And she flew to the Philippines. She ministered to her family. And there were no churches in the area, no Seventh-day Adventist churches. So she invited the church leaders from the next town over to come and do some evangelistic work in that area. They held an evangelistic meeting, and as a result of that, 50 people were baptized.

Oh wow.

And many of them were from her family. And so just that one individual who prayed, "Lord, the next person who knocks on my door, I will take Bible studies from them". And that Bible studies led to 50 more souls. Just tremendous experience.

That's fantastic. Yeah, yeah.

Yes.

So you had to have found this very faith building. You're selling books. That can be up; that can be down.

Yes.

It can be up and down. It could be all sorts of things.

Yes.

There cannot be an LE alive, a literature evangelist alive, who has not had discouraging experience. How did you get through those times where you thought, wow, man, did I choose the wrong own career here, or it's been a lean week, or I'm not selling books? How do you get beyond maybe some discouraging experiences?

Well, again, just like in marriage, I remember how the Lord brought my wife and I together. It was so providential. I mean, we got confirmation after confirmation after confirmation that this is what the Lord wanted, that we were supposed to be together. So whenever we go through hard times, we remember that the Lord brought us together, so he's gonna get us through this challenging time. And it was the same thing with literature evangelism. I felt that God had called me to the work.

There you go.

And so quitting never entered into my mind. And I believed that God would provide. He's a big God. And so yeah, there were times when things were a little slim financially, but the Lord always took care of us. I was the sole breadwinner. My wife was homeschooling at the time. So there were times I had a four-day week. So I was working Monday through Thursday, long hours, but there were times that I'd come up to Thursday, and no sales. And I would have a little three-by-five spiral notebook that I would record my mileage, but I would also record my experiences on there. So that, to me, was my canvas. It was blank at the beginning of the day. But at the end of the day, I would have experiences and other things that I would write in there. So now my canvas is blank. No sales Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, maybe some promises, but... we got to put food on the table.

Yeah, that's right.

So I left a little bit earlier, and I prayed a lot more and would go out, and the Lord would richly bless. And often it's that 11th-hour customer.

That's right.

You know, your last door of the day, and the Lord just opens up the floodgates. It's almost like he's saying, "I'm rewarding you for your faithfulness...

Yeah.

...for enduring to the end". I could have quit any time, any part of that day, but he kept me going, and he just blessed.

Reminds me of the story, "Have you caught anything"? "No, we've toiled all night".

Yes.

"Well, why don't you just throw your nets out there"? "Well, nah".

One more door.

"All right, we'll give it one more shot because you've said so. We'll throw those nets out". So many fish, they just about sank two boats.

Yes, yes.

Fantastic. You must, then, have an unshakeable confidence in the primacy, the importance of the written word.

Yes.

Because it's still, this is still about getting a message into somebody's hands so they can... it's a pretty old-fashioned thing, the whole idea about getting a book into someone's hands.

Right.

What's so unique or so important or powerful about the written word, exposing people to the written word? Many times you sell a book, you know these people, they love it; they want it all. Other times, it's like, "Well, yeah, we'll give this a shot". It's not like everybody's.. not even, it's not like everybody who buys is dying to read. You understand what I mean?

Yes, right.

So what is it about the written word that has a power about it that you, to the extent that you want to see people experience that power in the written word?

Yes, yes. There's a Bible promise in Isaiah 55, verse 11. "So shall my word be that goeth"...

Yes.

..."forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the things whereto I sent it". So I've got that promise. And I remember a sermon by a well-known preacher. He entitled it "Guaranteed Seed".

Hmm.

And so I believe in that promise. I believe, even if that book just sits on the shelf for a while, somehow, some way, the Lord is going to work it out for that individual to read that information at the right time when they need some encouragement.

Have you heard stories like that?

Well, your story.

Yeah, there you go.

That's a good story.

That's right, I'm a minister of the gospel today because of somebody sharing literature with me, not once, not twice, but three times. Many years after the first time I received that book, I read that book, and my life was changed.

I was just preaching at a church in Alabama not too long ago, and I quoted that statement that sometimes literature will be sitting on the shelf, maybe collecting dust, but something will happen in their life where they will pull that book off the shelf and they'll read it, and they'll get to know Jesus. And after service, I was shaking hands with the parishioners. And one lady said, "what you talked about was my story". She said, "A couple of young people came to my door and gave me a 'Great Controversy' book. I looked at it. I said, 'I'm interested in history. I think I'll keep this book.'" And she tucked it away in the attic. She had some family problems, divorced, went through, moved from Arizona or Colorado, wherever it was, to the East, to Alabama. And she decided that she's going to clean the attic, 34 years later, she finds that book, "The Great Controversy". She read it and accepted Christ, and her life was changed.

34 years later.

And she's still on fire.

How fantastic is that! I have a friend who was raised in Washington, DC. He was fossicking about in the attic one day, said to his mother, "Mother, what is this book"? She: "I don't know that book. I bought it from someone who came to the house years ago". I believe it was "Bible Readings for the Home". And he took that book down, read that book, went to a Christian college, became a minister of the gospel, and is a university professor today.

Wow, tremendous.

Yeah, she got the book, never read it. Her son found that book, changed his life and many other lives besides.

Yes, yes.

There's power, there's power. Let me ask you... we don't have a whole lot of time, but one or two or three books that you would recommend; you gotta read this book or these books. What would they be?

"Desire of Ages," "Great Controversy," and I've learned to appreciate the Old Testament more.

Yes.

I'd say "Patriarchs and Prophets". Those three books, "Patriarchs and Prophets," "Desire of Ages," and "Great Controversy". It tells you where we've come from, it, the "Desire of Ages" deals with the life of Christ, and "Great Controversy" is where we're going.

Yeah.

And powerful books, powerful books.

Okay, there's somebody watching us, and I don't know, maybe a chemical engineer, could be a bus driver, architect, school teacher, accountant, horse trainer. And they've listened, and they've said, "Man, God is speaking to my heart. Maybe I need to be involved in Christian ministry. Maybe I need to be involved in literature ministry". What do you say to that person? That person who's thinking, man, I need to at least explore this and find out more, how does a person do that?

Well, I would first tell him that God is still calling people from the fishing boats and the fishing nets to full-time ministry. And so this Holy Spirit is still working on hearts, and the work needs to be done. And so he's looking for recruits, for disciples.

Right.

And so I would direct them to the promises of God. And I would also encourage them to contact their local church leaders to find out about it. Some people are called to sell literature, and others are called to just distribute literature...

Sure.

...to keep some tracts or books in their pocket or purse. And so that's one of the things that we promote here at the Southern Union is total member involvement, every lay person getting involved in the literature ministry by, as we call it "evangeliving". You go to the grocery store, and you're checking out, you leave a tract with them, or you go to the gas station, and you leave some tracts. Wherever you go, just carry them with you. And so that's one thing that every member could do, but as far as selling and making it a career, a calling, then contact your local publishing director or local church leader for that, and they will help you to get started.

So how do you see the future of literature evangelism? Bright future?

Oh, I think the best days are ahead of us for literature evangelism, 'cause people are looking for answers. With all this turmoil that's going on in the world today, they're wanting to know the answers. So we've had literature evangelists who've had their best years ever during these last couple of years.

Mmm.

One individual, he generates leads by setting up his table and his booth at county and state fairs.

Yeah.

And he makes these balloons. And he says, "Hey, you want a balloon"? You know, so the kids come, and then the parents will come as well, and he says, "Hey, Mom, while I'm making this balloon for your son or your daughter, why don't you take a look at this and fill out this little card for a free drawing for one of our set of children's Bible story books"? And so he'll generate 100 leads in a day, and he goes and he visits them. And he's just having a tremendous time. People are looking for answers. It's the best time. I really...

And we've got the answers.

Yes.

And the printed page, that's the answers.

Amen, amen.

Fantastic.

That's one thing about a book. You can read it and get upset with what you read, and you can throw it up against the wall, and...but you pick it up the next day; it'll say the same thing. You throw me up against the wall; I may not say the same thing, you know?

Yeah, how very true. With that, hey, thank you very much, Keith Reid. This has been great.

I've enjoyed it.

Your story's been inspiring to me. I feel energized and revived, and no doubt countless other people, too. I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

My pleasure.

And I appreciate your time. Thanks for being part of this. He's Keith Reid. I'm John Bradshaw. This has been our conversation.
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