Our God is amazing and he teaches me more of His glory each day. Some lessons, however, are easier to take than others are. In the month of June, we had 13 baptisms! That’s the most we’ve had in any one month this year. The Lord made it clear though, He gave the increase; we just shared in the blessing.
Randy looked no older than 18 when he walked through our doors, though he claimed to be older. I knew he’d never been here before, so I asked him to sit and talk with me. He told me, “I don’t want to hear any God talk, I’m not a believer.” So, I offered him what kindness I could, and told him I was still glad to talk to him and asked him to remember me if he changed his mind.
Randy was soon a regular and we talked frequently, but the door to his heart was still closed. Then one day he disappeared. This isn’t unusual, but it saddened me because I’d tried to talk to those around him about God, praying he would take an interest, but now he was out of reach. Oh, how much we convince ourselves we can achieve on our own. A week later, Randy stepped into my office and asked for a Bible. I jumped at the opportunity, but before a word left my mouth, he said, “I don’t want to talk about it. I want to read it on my own.” And read he did.
One week later, Randy stood at my door and asked, timidly, “… do you baptize people here?” You can guess my answer to that question. He was finally ready to talk. “I’m a believer now, and the Bible says believers should be baptized, I’m already working on the repenting part so, I’m ready to be baptized.”
“What changed?” I asked. He said he saw the evil ways people lived and it made him believe there had to be good to counter it. “So I prayed... I didn’t even know where to start, what book, what faith, but that day I saw a cross wherever I looked so I came and got that Bible from here and I just started reading. It was kinda simple from there.”
As I left my office, overjoyed, Margret, another client, was coming to my office. “I’ll be with you as soon as I get back, we’re going to a baptism,” I said. “That’s actually what I came to see you about!”
I could hardly believe my ears. I had to take a moment and thank God for His awesome power. He walked them all the way to the water and just brought me along for the last mile of the way. After the baptisms, we rode back to the ministry, talking about their new church family. Then Margret yelled, “Stop the car! There’s my daughter, I haven’t seen her in ages!”
They spent a little while catching up and then Margret shared Jesus! “Honey I just gave my life to Christ, don’t you think it’s about time you did that?” And she agreed! Sometimes God’s message is as simple and agreeable as “Just be available and I’ll do the rest.” But not all His lessons are that way.
Once in a while, a drought follows rain. Satan seemed to block every attempt to bring someone to Christ this July. Some said “tomorrow,” and never showed. Some said, “I know it’s what I need to do but I drank this morning and I want to make sure I’m sober when I do this and that I stay sober this time,” only to show up drunk the next day or disappear. Some even called and said “I’m coming in the morning! Be ready for me,” only to leave me waiting and let their phones ring.
This lesson was hard to swallow, and I wasn’t even sure what the lesson was. Doubt crept in. Maybe I’m not the man for the job, maybe I have forgotten how to show compassion, maybe I should have been harder on them, etc. July 31st came with another failed meeting. Suki had to leave for work as soon as she realized she needed to be baptized. “Meet me early; I really want to be baptized tomorrow before I go to work!” And there I sat in an empty parking lot.
I prayed that the Lord would help me not to be discouraged but to keep my faith in whatever He was doing. Then two women started yelling at each other, “just what I need,” I thought, and stepped out to calm things down. One of the women left and things did calm down.
A few minutes later, Jeannie, the woman who walked out, tapped on my window. “Can you pray with me?” she whispered. When we sat down, she told me that she knew she shouldn’t have yelled but the Lord gave her strength to walk away instead of letting her anger build any further. She said she was really trying to grow in the Lord and I asked if she’d been baptized. She said she wanted to be but needed a church home so that she could really be a part of the church and not just get baptized and walk away. She is now a Christian, in one of our housing programs, and worshiping with us.
And what did God teach me? To really wait on Him, and be reminded one more time that this is His work and to see the importance of just one soul.
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Cor. 3:7
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