Captain Omie “Sportsman” Tillet
My close friend Charles Daniels visited me one Sunday evening many years ago. Earlier that morning during the worship service at his church, his pastor asked everyone in the congregation to pray that God would lay someone on their heart to visit. God answered Charles’ prayer by laying me on his heart. Initially, Charles resisted and told God that I would be too busy. Well, I was not too busy and after his visit, I began to attend church with Charles.
The first few Sundays, I would sit in the back because I felt out of place. Over the course of a few weeks, I felt convicted each Sunday and knew that the Lord was speaking to me. But, I resisted the Holy Spirit and fought my pride for over a month. Finally, on February 23, 1969, I could not resist or fight God anymore. I knelt in the pew and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.
Once I made the life altering decision to follow Christ, it was inevitible that my daily life would also change. I was a new man. For the first time, I understood that I was created for a purpose by a God who loves me unconditionally. Although I never struggled with alcohol addiction, it was routine for me to enjoy a few drinks when I returned to the dock after a hard day’s fishing. That no longer appealed to me, so I quit. I also quit taking charters and fishing on Sunday.
The Lord also began to impress upon me the importance of fellowship with other believers. I began to realize that it was all part of God’s plan to be with other believers to sharpen, encourage and disciple one another. As believers in Christ, we are to share one another’s burdens and have a desire to be an integral part of each other’s lives. This is why it is so important to be a part of a local church that preaches the gospel and encourages each member to live in one accord, striving to form deeper personal relationships with one another.
In 1972, someone asked me to say a prayer for the fleet after we cleared the inlet. I was nervous at first, but now I am so thankful that someone asked me to be the one to sit at the feet of God the Father that morning and lift up the fleet and any other prayer requests. The tradition of blessing the fleet was born that day and still carries on today with the Oregon Inlet, Hatteras, Morehead City and Virginia Beach fleets. In addition, many tournaments around the world bless the fleet each morning.
God has taught me the importance of prayer. It is how we speak to Him and how He can speak to us. When we work, we work. When we pray, God works. Jesus said anything we ask for in His name will be given to us.
There are a couple of things I believe are extremely important and would like to leave with you. One is my desire to see all fisherman saved by the blood of Christ. As God showed us His love, we should show others. Hug somebody and allow others to see a glimpse of the love shown to me and other believers by Christ. You have too much to gain to lose.