Approximately six months ago I had a young man approach me and inquire about pursuing a relationship with God. This young man is 18 years old and was still in high school at that time. He grew up in a divided home. His father is a Mormon and his mother is a Catholic. They divorced when he was young and he never really connected with either faith. He is a friend of my oldest daughter and had been over to our house a few times. He had the opportunity to observe the way we live and it seemed to him we had a unique relationship with God he had never considered possible. This led him to question for himself how might he begin pursuing a relationship with God.
When he asked me how he might begin to pursue a relationship with God, I suggested that he begin by reading what God said to us in the Bible. I offered to meet with him weekly in order to read the Bible together, explore what he discovered for himself, and to address vital texts that confronted his unbelief or highlighted the greatness of God. We set a meeting time of 7:00am weekly and gathered at the beloved Starbucks. We began in John’s gospel mainly because this was “Written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” I’m convinced the Holy Spirit convinced John, by writing those words, God would powerfully save those who dared to read them.
Week after week we discussed what we were reading and what was especially meaningful to him. One particular week a fellow pastor at another local church named Andy stopped in for coffee and came over to say hello. Andy inquired about what we were doing. I shared with Andy what we were doing and he, being the encourager that he is, cheered us on. Andy became a partner that day in the gospel work. We encountered Andy every couple of weeks and he would either engage the young man, just say hello, or encourage us in our pursuit. I know Andy was also praying for us and especially this young man.
This young man and I systematically walked through John, Romans, Acts, and 1 & 2 Corinthians. I would periodically call him to repentance and faith to which he resisted. It was when we were in 1 Corinthians that God put the pieces of the puzzle together for him. He confessed Jesus as Lord and his need to be saved. We worked through this and he expressed a desire to be baptized. He was baptized and publicly confessed Jesus as Lord toward the end of May in the presence of the church and many of his family members as well.
We are still meeting weekly and will begin Galatians next week. I have since invited another young man in our church to join me in this venture. My hope is to model for both of these young men how to read the bible as well as teach others. It is my goal to reach a point where I can pass off the new believer to the more mature to continue to build him up in Christ.
A few weeks ago, I saw Andy again and thanked him for his partnership in the gospel. I shared how God had answered his prayers and delivered this young man out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Jesus. What a great joy it was for both of us to rejoice in the greatness of our God.
You might ask, what were the means God used to save this young man? I would respond by saying the power of God unleashed in God’s Word saved this man. We possess the words of our God. The Apostle Paul encapsulated this for us in Romans 1:16 where he said the gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” But, to say God used His Word to save him would not tell the whole story. I would also suggest God used the powerful prayer of His people. Paul expressed in Romans 10:1 that his “Heart’s desire and prayer to God for them(unbelieving Jews) is that they may be saved.” Just as God answered the prayers of Paul, so he does for us today.
You see brothers, we possess great power. We have God’s Word and endless opportunities to pray. God has called each of us to specialize in both of these areas. We cannot neglect the ministry of the word and prayer for in these are the power of God to save. Cherish these as gifts of God, utilize these for the advancement of the kingdom and encourage others to be engaged in this ministry of reconciliation.
Please pray for Martie and his ministry at 4D Church in Durham, NC.