I didn’t have a part four in mind when I published the previous three posts. But I can’t help but tell about how the Lord is continuing to write the story. And how it all fits into seeing something more.
Seeing something more is about finding the holy in the common place. It’s about ordinary, normal life with extraordinary purpose and power that comes from knowing Christ. It’s about regular stories that have deeper meaning. It’s about looking beyond the surface to see something more.
From the previous three posts, I hope you got the idea that God has been doing a work in my own life to help me see something more when it comes to the Holy Spirit and his power and authority in our lives when it comes to evangelism and discipleship. After reflecting on these things, writing about them, and praying over them, it’s no wonder what happened next.
I woke up on Friday morning, knowing that my roommate had invited several of our African neighbors over for breakfast. However, the house was a little too quiet. When I walked into our living area, my roommate Taylor was sitting on the couch with R* only.
Although Taylor was disappointed that no one could come except R, the Lord was clearly setting the stage for a conversation that we would have never had if the room had been full of chatty neighbors.
Long before Taylor met R, she prayed for a Togolese friend, but she was discouraged because her language ability in French was limited. God answered this prayer through a strange set of circumstances.
One day at the hospital, a very ill young woman was admitted, but died despite the very best efforts of care. As is normal custom in these difficult situations, the chaplaincy team was called to counsel and comfort the family. R was her grieving sister. It was soon discovered that R, having grown up in Ghana, spoke English rather than French, and quite well at that. She was twenty years old. One of the chaplains, recognizing the unique opportunity, found Taylor who was working that day and said, “Here, have a friend.” This chaplain had no idea that Taylor had been praying for that very thing. And here was an English-speaking Togolese friend.
This is how R got to be sitting on our couch for breakfast on a Friday morning. I sat down to join them.
Taylor asked about her family, specifically what religion they proclaimed, which is a completely normal and expected question to ask in this culture. Muslim, she said.
“And what about you personally?” She followed up.
“Well, Muslim, of course. Since my whole family is Muslim.”
Taylor nodded. “What is that like for you?”
She then started a twenty minute spill telling us all about the rules and regulations of Islam – the particulars of praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, how to offer sacrifices, and oddly enough, the specific details about restrictions women have while on their monthly cycles. It was an impressive, obviously regurgitated speech about a checklist of religious duties, and she hardly took a breath until the very end. It’s important to Muslims to be able to explain their faith, and they are taught how to do this from a young age, which is exactly what R did. However, it could be seen in her eyes that something about her rehearsed recitation left her feeling as if she’d fallen short. She made a final comment about how confusing it all was, as if that was the conclusion of the matter.
I couldn’t leave it at that. With heart beating like a drum and a wide open door before me, I whispered a prayer for the authoritative and wonder-working help of the Holy Spirit.
“Thank you for sharing all of that with us, R,” I began, and she eased up.
“God has not created us and then abandoned us to live in confusion,” I started to explain, and she lifted her eyes, somewhat surprised I think at the calm confidence with which I spoke. “He has provided a way to know him and live for him.” Her gaze held. She was thrown aback by our assurance, and her heart was thrown wide open. When asked if we could tell her about Jesus, she replied with a softness of sensitivity and hunger in her voice, “Yes.”
Starting with the creation, she heard the entire story of Adam and Eve, the problem of sin, the necessity of sacrifice, the first sacrifice to cover the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve, and the substitutionary sacrifice offered by Abraham. All of these things are relatively familiar to Muslims. The story of Abraham’s sacrifice transitions beautifully into talking about Jesus, his life and death as the final and perfect sacrifice, his resurrection as proof of his divinity and God’s great redemptive plan, and the forgiveness of sin and eternal life we have in him when we believe.
She hung on every word. You could not have broken her concentration with a knife. What kind of all powerful God would give himself as a sacrifice for the sins of man? Her eyes beheld wonder and disbelief. A God of love.
Tears filled her eyes, and she wiped them with the back of her hand.
“R, what does your heart feel?”
“Yes, I feel something,” she said, “I feel freedom.”
Do you believe that you have sinned against God and that your sins separate you from him? Yes.
Do you believe that because of sin you deserve to die? Yes.
Do you believe Jesus died in your place because he loves you? Yes.
Do you want to believe in him and give your life to him today?
She prayed in Ghanaian English separated by sobs and sniffles. We listened, held her hands, and praised God with her. After praying together, she recounted how she attended a primary school with Christian influences, and how even way back then, when she heard the Christian songs and prayers, something stirred within her heart. The same stirring that she felt today.
How marvelous God is, to draw people to himself even through the Christian songs and prayers heard by a school-aged girl. Years later, he redeemed the tragic death of her sister and used it to bring R to the Hospital of Hope, where she was connected with Taylor, for God had heard Taylor’s prayer for a Togolese friend. Then on one Friday morning, although a handful of neighbors were invited for breakfast, only R showed up. I had only moved into the house a few days before and had been praying about how to witness for Jesus through this new, accessible, previously underestimated power of the Holy Spirit. How marvelous is the love of the Father, how powerful is the Lord Jesus Christ, how wonderful is the working of the Holy Spirit, how beautiful is the word of God and the story of the gospel.
To him be all glory and honor and wisdom and strength forever and ever.
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