(Names replaced w/ pseudonyms for this article)
Hopelessness creeps in so quickly. Before we have even given someone a chance, their lack of interest in the Gospel -- and sometimes hostility -- often leaves us feeling despair and an overwhelming urge to simply give up. We walk into a relationship praying that we can change this person for God; hoping that we will be the one to lead them on to the right path. So everything becomes about “our time” and how quickly we think things should be progressing, and we forget something very important; we cannot be Jesus. We simply lead and make the Gospel available; the rest is up to the person and the Holy Spirit.
One of my team members, Matt, has been building a relationship with a man named Josh. Now, Josh has been through a lot. He has struggled with different addictions and with a criminal past. When Matt first started talking to Josh, Josh made it very clear that he was not interested in God and that he was an atheist. Josh has been around our house church network for a while, and everyone knows about him, But the crazy thing is that Josh hasn’t really reached out to anyone before. He hasn’t wanted to talk about God. So when Josh reached out to Matt, emotional and broken, you can imagine the surprise and excitement! Josh asked Matt if he would pray for him, saying that he was ready to begin a journey with God. Matt recounted to me that, “I was filled with joy and laughter as God reminded me that no heart is too hard for Him to soften!”
Through patience and continual endurance of Josh’s friends, Josh has been able to finally find someone who he connects with; someone that God has been preparing just for Him. Thank God they didn’t give up on Josh and, even knowing he was an atheist, they continued to invite him to church events. Now Matt has the chance to let God lead him as he continues to build a relationship and share the very thing that was once so hated and rejected by Josh; the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One more quick story before I go....
Liam, my husband, has also been reaching out to a man. This guy is from Yemen. After a while, our Yemeni friend seemed to distance himself more and more from us. For a while he had been calling my husband up to three times a day, sending text messages constantly, and also facebooking Liam. They spent a lot of time talking about the Bible and the Qur’an. Of course, there was some hostility from our Yemeni friend, but he did seem curious and that was enough encouragement for Liam. But now, there was only silence and when Liam would go to where his friend worked, his friend would hardly talk to him. After a week or two of this, Liam was starting to get discouraged, wondering if he should slowly fade out of the friendship and start looking for others who were more open minded to learning about the Gospel. But, just as he had decided that he really should move on, our Yemeni friend reached back out with even more intensity than before. Not only was he wanting to continue to talk about the Bible, but he was now even interested in maybe coming to church with us sometime.
This completely blew our mind. Even though this man had seemed to pull away, and maybe he had, God was working inside of him, opening his heart a little at a time. For a Muslim to even consider attending church with a follower of Christ is really huge and so exciting. So now, we are trusting God to continue His work in our friend’s heart.
God will move. He is a God of restoration and healing and His time is the best time. We must keep our faith in Him, knowing that He is big enough to handle even the hardest hearts. God will always prevail.
*Names changed for privacy/security