Smiles, Invite Cards, & the Gospel

By First Dallas Staff

In a world filled with hustle and bustle, where genuine connections can be hard to come by, 74-year-old John Reifers lives by the motto: begin every connection with a smile. John’s story began in Mississippi, where he distinctly remembers making a decision to trust in Christ at the age of 15. As an adult, John serves his country in the military, and now, as a retiree from the business world, he is dedicated to serving the kingdom by sharing the gospel and inviting people to church. This is partly thanks to a particular invitation he received to an Easter Sunday service many years ago.

“I ran into Dr. W.A. Criswell at the YMCA in 1995,” says John. He recognized the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Dallas coming down the stairs at that time, so John went to introduce himself. He continued, “Dr. Criswell was telling me about the church and described all First Dallas was doing for Easter.” This invitation left a lasting impression on John, and since the 90s, he has been a faithful member. 

Even after years of faithful service, retirement hasn’t slowed John down. Instead, he is focused on evangelism full-time, thanks to the business cards and invitation cards provided by the church. He says this resource has changed the way he witnesses to people. John describes these simple cards as great icebreakers because they have First Baptist Dallas’ information and a QR code, opening the door for John to initiate conversations about his faith with everyone he meets. Simply put, John says, “I like to talk to people. When I start telling them about how Christ died for us . . . I encourage them to go listen to a sermon and find out more about the church.”

John lives near downtown Dallas and typically walks everywhere he goes. This means he regularly visits his favorite coffee shop near the church, Starbucks. During a snow day, he went to get a cup of coffee, but to his surprise, Starbucks was closed. John said, “Someone walked up behind me and said ‘hi.’” John says he has never met a stranger, so the two men started talking and walked to another coffee shop together across the street. Through their conversations, he found out Eric was Jewish. John said, “I just felt like this person was open to hearing the truth. Sometimes people are lonely and just want to talk, and the thing missing in them is Christ.” So John gave Eric a business card and told him about his faith. While he doesn’t know where Eric is now, this encounter made a lasting impression on him because John realized that when God wants to use him, he should always say, “I am available.” 

As a result of his availability to God, John feels like he is being used by the Lord more and more. That’s why he returns to that Starbucks every Sunday and brings his Bible. He says, “I notice a lot of people that don’t smile or have a happy look on their face…there is an emptiness in people’s lives without God in it.” In response, he says, “I give them a card and talk to them about Jesus. This way of thinking has been leading my life.”

Another person who will forever be in his heart is Judy. When John met Judy, he was driving for Uber and picked up Judy and her cousin during heavy traffic. The woman asked him why he was tired. “I told her I wake up early because I do my devotional work and pray for people I will be driving,” John said, “Then I started telling her about my faith.” After John told Judy about Jesus, she prayed to trust in Christ that day before she got out of the car.

This encounter got John thinking about the magnitude of the gospel. “This woman was completely opposite of me—different race, different gender, and different age. But the gospel is for everyone, and the Holy Spirit showed me that on that day,” he said confidently. John doesn’t let his lack of Spanish stop him from inviting people to church. He expresses gratitude for the invitation cards that can guide people to our brand new ministry, First Baptist Dallas en Español.

Just like the truth that the gospel is for everyone, everyone can share the gospel! John believes that when you make it a habit, it becomes a natural part of your life. He says, “I always treat people with respect and try to be an example of Christ. I want them to want to be around me. Respect that person, let them lead you, and be ready to answer what Christ has done for you.”

As Christians, we are called to share our faith. So, as Easter approaches, take John’s advice and start thinking about your One Life. Whether it’s someone you know or someone you meet in places like the YMCA, you never know the true impact of an invitation. Thanks to the example of Dr. Criswell, John is left to share his legacy and that ripple effect of faith with others.

We want to celebrate all that the Lord has done in your lives! Share your story with us by emailing

Listen to John’s story below!