Published October 27, 2009

Paul's Epistle...
"John's Gospel - Responses"

Last week in this space I shared Archie Watkins' story about how a truck driver he knows shared a Bible with a homeless man who, through that experience, was saved and became, in fact, a preacher. Many of you shared similar personal experiences. Here are three.

Story #1:

"Over the past couple years there has been a homeless man sitting at the convenience store at the stoplight where I turn to go to church. The Lord had prompted me on several occasions to stop and ask him to church, but, being a female, I was hesitant to do so. Each time I saw him I just ached inside because I knew I should stop and ask, but let fear grip me.

"Finally, in a missionary service, I told the church about my feelings and stated that were the opportunity ever to present itself again I would stop and ask him to go with me. [But after that] I never saw him on that corner again.

"One Sunday morning I was in my classroom teaching and the superintendent came to my class and asked me to look out into the senior adult classroom. I peeped around the door and saw the man, clean as a whistle, sitting there. The superintendent had to run out after Sunday School began for a promotion we were running and saw him sitting on the shopping center curb and felt God telling her to go to him. She asked him to come to church with her, and he came.

"That particular morning I was not playing the piano but leading the singing and knew the Holy Ghost was leading me to lead ‘Amazing Grace.' During the song I stopped and spoke a moment about the ‘Amazing Grace' of God that is extended to anyone, anytime, anywhere they may be and we can accept Him right where we are. At the end of the service [the man] stated that he thoroughly enjoyed the service and thanked us for having him.

"He never came back and I only spotted him one more time walking in the opposite direction, and traffic was so heavy I couldn't turn around and get back to him.

"A couple months later, news came over the TV early one morning that a homeless man had been found dead in that area. Even before it was confirmed, we knew it had to be him.

"We do not know the condition of his heart but thank God that a way was made for someone to invite him to church and he was witnessed to about the saving power of God.

"So many times we let opportunities slip out of our hands and never get that chance again to witness to someone. A recent mission service was on being a ‘Faithful Servant' to Christ. I don't want to be judged unfaithful because I didn't take advantage to witness to someone I know God has put into my path... We only have short moments left; let's take advantage of each moment." – Linda, Wilmington, NC

Story #2:

"Back in 2001 I was living in West Virginia. [I was to meet someone in a mall parking lot. While waiting] I was approached by a shabbily dressed man who appeared out of nowhere. He said he was hungry and could I give him a couple of bucks. I was unemployed but gave him a dollar. There were cars going by and fast food restaurants on each side. Once I gave the man the money, I felt such peace – like nothing before or, really, since. This man didn't have time to walk to find something to eat or get into a car... I really believe this man was an angel, sent down from God to share my limited resources; as the peace I felt was far more of a blessing than if I would have spent the money on something for myself." – Tex Noel

Story #3:

"I have felt impressed to help people and have. I didn't spend a lot of time and money on a person when I was a professor at a local college, this person I felt the Lord wanted me to befriend and help. He reverted back to his old life and with that I was very disappointed.

"I really questioned God until I felt there was a lesson to be learned. How does God feel when we, His creation and some of us His children, abuse, misuse, etc., all the things He has provided for us and given us. I realized that I have to give unconditional love because I have been given unconditional love from my Heavenly Father. I believe we are called spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not just results oriented." – Martin G.

Thanks to these readers for their stories. I find it interesting – and instructive – that in none of these three cases did the writer see the end result. We don't know if the homeless man accepted Christ before he died. We don't know what happened to the beggar. We don't know the final disposition of the man in the third story. But we do know that a seed was planted in each case. And that's significant.

Christ reminds us that "one sows and another reaps" (John 4:37). So even if we don't personally see results of such efforts, we must accept Paul's admonition to "not be weary in well doing" (Gal 6:9) and to have faith that God will bring these seeds that you (and possibly others) have planted in these lives to fruition in His way and in His time. Our obligation is simply to proclaim — and live — the Gospel.

- Paul

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