Ministry comes in many forms but we also know that it comes when we are willing to be sensitive and available to the Holy Spirit.
On Tuesday morning, 11 December 2007, I boarded a train in Basel, Switzerland to return home. The train was not full. So when I arrived at my cabin and reserved seat, I noticed three of the six seats were already filled. I would have made the fourth.
Not really wanting to cram in since the train so empty, I moved down aisle to the next cabin which only had one man seated in it.
96% Unsaved in Europe…
When he found out I was a missionary, he was surprised. Most Europeans wonder why I am here in Europe instead of some Third World country. I told him I ministered in both.
Then I politely gave him some statistics from EMRG Strategic Research, ( http://emrg.friderich.net/ ) that only 4.12 % of Europeans follow Jesus and are actively concerned about their neighbors doing the same. Only 3.84% of Europeans would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and join a fellowship if presented the Gospel.
Like other Europeans, this fact surprised him. He felt Europe was Christian because of its heritage. We discussed the facts further and he began to realize what he thought might not be true.
He mentioned that he was raised Methodist but his parents forced it on him. He had no desire to go to church and would not make his two young sons go either. I apologized for this situation and explained that God was interested in a voluntary relationship not a forced one.
We continued to talk and exchange ideas about everything. Eventually it got to the question every American gets in Europe, “What do you think about Bush?” I told him what I thought and we discussed that for awhile.
When we were done “solving” the world's political problems, I narrowed the focus and asked him about his relationship with God. Did he know how much God loved him? Did he know that God wanted to have a personal relationship with him?
He politely offered the standard response that everyone has their own beliefs and answers. He continued to say that there were many good people in the world and they would go to heaven because they were good. He too would go to heaven because he was a good person and tried to do good things.
There was no doubt that he was a good guy, loving husband and father. But I stressed that God still wanted to have a personal relationship with him.
Earlier he mentioned he had two young sons. I used an example of when he comes home from work and his little five year old boy jumps up on his lap and starts loving him for no ulterior reason or motive. How did he feel when that happens? I suggested that this is exactly how our Heavenly Father feels when we have time for Him.
The Holy Spirit Moving…
You could see and sense that the Holy Spirit was beginning to work on him.
I then gave him a shortened version of my testimony.
Years ago, God used my oldest son Shawn, when he was just a little over three years old to tell me, at a crucial time in my life, how much Jesus loved me. I explained to him that this life changing event happened when I was “completely unsaved” and pretty much uninterested in God.
The Holy Spirit was really working on him now. The conversation went on like this for about an hour more. He could have ended it at anytime but — he didn’t and I didn’t.
During the last few minutes before our train arrived, I challenged him to let God show him how much God loved him. I asked if he had a Bible or a New Testament. He replied that he still had his childhood Bible. So I asked him when he got back home, to get it out and read the Book of John. But before reading it, ask God to show Himself to him and how much God loved him.
We exchanged business cards and I told him that if he had any questions or needed prayer, I was available to him. Since I would probably be coming back to Switzerland sometime, maybe we could even get a cup of coffee together.
We arrived at the Mannheim, Germany train station. He had business there and I had a connecting train to catch. As we stepped off the train and onto station platform, I turned around, shook his hand and found myself without thinking, giving him a hug, as I told him that God really does love him. Shaking hands is normal. Hugging a complete stranger is pretty much culturally out of the question in Germany. Then I went one way. He went another.
Personally, I know God will jump at the chance to show him how much He loves this man and his family, as He loves you and me.
You could be…
Sometimes — we meet people that have a life-long impact on our lives. They may not be in our lives very long. But it’s not the length of time that governs the impact. It is more of allowing the Holy Spirit to use you. In fact, YOU could be the answer to someone else's prayer for that person.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to have our own personal relationship with Him and to be led by His Holy Spirit. You don’t have to be an overseas missionary or in “full-time” ministry to have more adventures and opportunities in your life than you can possibly imagine. Just be available.
Thank you for reading my Blog. I hope it ministers and challenges you in some way.
Happy New Year – 2008 will be great!
All of God’s blessings on you and those you love. Never take them for granted.
Rev. Lawrence Blakeslee
Missionary to Europe & Asia