The Unexpected Journey
May 1, 2008 - A few years ago, my wife, Nellie Jo, and I traveled across America listening to Christians who formerly held other beliefs. We heard from Christians who were once Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, agnostics, witches, Buddhists, Unitarians, New Agers, Muslims, Satanists and non-Messianic Jews.
by Thom S. Rainer
I already had a packed schedule and dreaded the distances I would have to travel to do the interviews. But my wife encouraged me that these visits would produce some of the greatest blessings we had ever experienced. She was right. During that year, I learned so much from God through the lives of others who had traveled tumultuous paths.
What lessons did we take home after a year of listening to these unlikely Christians?
Our world is much more pluralistic than we thought. Too often I find myself in the “holy huddle” of fellow Christians, and I fail to see the variety of beliefs in the people I encounter every day. We cannot expect anyone to listen to us unless we have made an effort to learn about what they believe.
And how can I be a true witness for my Savior if I am oblivious to the multiple religions of millions in America and billions worldwide?
Many people are hungry for truth. Most non-Christians seem to know that they do not have the full truth, and they are willing to listen to us if we listen to them as well. Every person we interviewed had, before becoming a Christian, wanted to hear the powerful claim of Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (HCSB).
But these people who came from a multitude of religious backgrounds told us that very few Christians were willing to share their faith. Telling others the Good News about Jesus Christ is not optional for any Christian. It is not something left to the pastors and ministers. It is the calling and mandate of every Christian.
There is power in Christian love. The message that permeated almost our entire year of travel and interviews was inescapable: Non-Christians are drawn to those who portray the love of Christ. The story of Ed and his co-worker Kathi demonstrates this point.
When Ed discovered that Kathi was worshiping ancient Egyptian gods, he committed to pray for her—even though they worked in different locations and had yet to meet in person. Then Kathi began working in the main office, and Ed, who was in a wheelchair, would roll by her cubicle and simply say, “Kathi, I’m still praying for you.”
She swore and fussed at him. “Sometimes I told him that he had no right to talk to his God on my behalf. Other times I told him that I didn’t care.”
It was several years before Kathi committed her life to Christ, but Ed kept praying. “That man prayed for me for years,” Kathi says, “I think he is one of the main reasons I am a Christian today.”
Like Ed, we must be willing to invest time in relationships with non-Christians. Love them unconditionally. Learn about their home lives. Make an effort to meet their needs.
After hundreds of hours of interviews, Nellie Jo and I returned home with a rekindled desire to tell others the Good News of the Savior. And we returned, determined not only to talk more about Jesus, but to act more like Jesus. Then, and only then, will the story of our changed lives in Christ be heard by those who do not know Him.