Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Readiness to Repent

All scripture references are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Have you ever witnessed to someone who at the time seemed to reject your witness only to find out later that they had repented and turned to the Lord? I remember back in 1978, we had been in Aberdeen South Dakota for about four months. The church phone rang. I took a call from a lady who was from Aberdeen and was Catholic in her upbringing. She had married a man who had a Trinitarian Pentecostal background. Apparently her in-laws were telling her that if she did not convert and become a Pentecostal and cease to be a Catholic she would be lost. The reason for her calling the church number was because she wanted to ask if it were true that she would be lost if she remained Catholic. I ask her if she had a Bible? I told her it didn't matter if it was a Catholic Bible as they were somewhat similar. She did and as we spoke I explained that it really didn't make any difference what we called ouselves but whether we were obedient to the Bible or not.

I proceeded to explain the gospel and the Acts 2:38 message where the Apostle Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." In addition, I gave her other scripture passages in the Book of Acts to read. This was long before caller ID so I didn't know the telephone number she was calling from. I asked her only for her first name  and told her to study the scriptures in the Book of Acts. I told her that I wasn't going to ask her last name or her telephone number so when we hung up the phone she would know that I wouldn't be able to call her back. I told her that if after she had read the scriptures I had given her she had questions she knew how to contact me. I did this because I didn't want her to think I was just trying to do what her in-laws were doing. 

About a week later she called again and asked if she could come by the church to talk about baptism. I assured it would be OK. My wife and I met with her and (I was so naive) I thought she just wanted more information. Much to my surprise, what she wanted was to be baptized in Jesus name. We arranged for her baptism to happen. Her in-laws were there at her baptism too. I thought this is great. A new convert and we had been in Aberdeen for only four months. Then she told me that her family's business was to go around the country painting barns and houses. They were sort of Gypsies. I found out where they were headed (in Montana) and gave her the name and address of the churches in that area and ask her to keep in touch.

Well, to make a long story short, I didn't hear from her after that. How disappointing! About four years later, I was speaking to a fellow pastor at the annual camp meeting. As we compared notes, as preachers will usually do, he said he had some Gypsies coming to his church. I related the above story to him and, lo and behold, they were house and barn painters. What do you know, it was the same family. I was able to get in touch with this sister, who was attending one of our churches in Kansas. When she came to Aberdeen to visit her family, she attended our church again, but this time as an established saint of God. 

She told me that after she left Aberdeen, because she didn't want to get more confused, she never re-contacted me. As her family traveled and conducted their business, she attended various charismatic type churches around the country but never felt they had what she needed or was looking for. Then one mid-week service she attended a United Pentecostal Church in Kansas. She said she felt an almost overpowering urge to go to the alter that night. The next week, she went back to the same church and had the same sense of urgency. She obeyed the urge and before she got to the alter God miraculously filled her with his Holy Spirit and she spoke with other tongues. She and her immediate family stayed there and she became an established saint of God. Wonderful, marvellous, hallelujah. I weep as I recall this incident.

To conclude this wonderful story that really happened, if you have ever witnessed to someone who seemed to disappoint you, don't give up! You don't know what God in His infinite wisdom is doing in the heart of that person you are witnessing to. The Lord Jesus said in John 10:27,  "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." I'm so glad I heard His voice and followed Him. 

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