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Posts Tagged ‘Witnessing for Christ’

 

Emily* and I met at a meeting, and afterward the subject of the Bible came into the conversation—a conversation that went something like this:

“The Bible is just fairy tales,” she declared.

“That is a popular viewpoint,” I replied. “How did you come to that conclusion?”

“Well, it’s full of crazy, unbelievable stories,” Emily asserted passionately. “Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, not to mention Jesus and his supposed miracles. Who in their right mind would believe such stuff?”

 

 

I began to pray silently as our conversation continued. Lord, help me speak your words.  May Emily reconsider her position and seek truth.

“I agree such events seem incredible,” I offered. “But I’ve come to believe the Biblical record is truth, backed up by decades of archaeological research, hundreds of ancient manuscripts—including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and dozens of scientific and medical corroborations. Also, numerous prophecies have been fulfilled with amazing accuracy. I can recommend some books written by experts if you’d like to know more.”

But Emily became defensive, insisting such proofs were either coincidental or made up by misled people determined to keep the fairy tales alive.

 

(The Ark Encounter at the Creation Museum, Petersburg, KY)

 

The conversation did not end well. Emily only became more vehement so I let her have the last word and bowed out as gracefully as I could. It felt like failure. Somehow in spite of my prayer, I must not have spoken God’s words for her.

Since that encounter, however, I’ve come to realize:

We can trust God with our words if we’re seeking his wisdom (James 1:5) and speaking in love (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Remember what God told Moses, upon commissioning the wilderness shepherd to be his voice to Pharaoh?

 

 

It would stand to reason that with God teaching him exactly what to say, Moses would eloquently convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites on the first encounter.

Instead, Moses had to confront Pharaoh numerous times. Even a constant barrage of plagues didn’t deter Pharaoh from refusing Moses’ request—until every firstborn son died in every Egyptian household, including Pharaoh’s. The hard-hearted ruler was brought low by grief, and finally let the Israelites go.

Does such a record indicate that God’s words through Moses failed repeatedly? NO. God had his reason for the delay:

 

Then the Lord said to Moses,

“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart…

so that I may perform these signs of mine among them

that you may tell your children and grandchildren

how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians

and how I performed my signs among them,

and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

–Exodus 10:1-2 NIV

 

 

These verses offer me great comfort for my conversation with Emily and others. I can trust God with the words I prayerfully spoke to her that day. They may have caused one more chink in her wall of defense against Christianity, so that she will one day know “that [he] is the Lord” and accept Jesus as Savior.

Such prayers are the kind God especially loves to answer.

 

 

 

What could be closer to God’s heart than the eternal destiny of one of his children?

Perhaps Emily will contact me one day and say, “I remembered what you said about the Bible and it got me to thinking…”

So I continue to pray.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

As I submit myself to you, O God, may my words be characterized by your wisdom that gently persuades and winsome grace that draws people to you–all from a heart motivated by love.  Then may your words echo in the minds of those who hear until doubt is transformed into faith.     

 

*Name changed.

 

Photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.dailyverses.net(2).

 

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Boris Nicholayevich Kornfeld, political prisoner of the former Soviet Union.

Incarcerated in the late 1940s at Ekibastuz, a forced labor camp, in Siberia.

A doctor.

Because of his medical training, the camp authorities put him to work in the hospital.

Dr. Kornfeld was Jewish, but a Christian prisoner attracted his attention.  The man evinced a quietness of spirit, in spite of the horrors, deprivation, and hopelessness of their situation.  Often the doctor would hear this fellow prisoner reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

One day, a guard was brought into the surgery.  An artery had been cut during a knifing incident.  As Dr. Kornfeld began to repair the artery, he thought, I could make the sutures in such a way that this horrid man would slowly bleed to death later.  The authorities would ever know.

But no sooner did the idea cross his mind than Dr. Kornfeld’s stomach turned at the cruelty of his own thoughts.  Words from the Lord’s Prayer came to his mind, and he spoke them silently in his heart:  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Day by day, Dr. Kornfeld sensed change occurring in his spirit.  He wanted to speak to the Christian prisoner about his experience in the surgery, to discuss what was happening within himself, but the fellow had been transferred to another gulag.  The doctor told no one about his growing faith in Jesus.

As he was being transformed on the inside, Dr. Kornfeld’s character began to change.  He started saying “No” to some of the sordid practices of the prison camp. Once he reported on an orderly who had stolen food from a dying patient.  Such misdeeds were actually quite common.  After all, why waste food on someone who was going to die anyway?

But telling the authorities what was going on put Dr. Kornfeld in danger.  No one was going to appreciate his sense of fairness and kindness.  Every prisoner lived for himself, doing whatever was necessary to survive.

One evening, Dr. Kornfeld examined a patient named Alex, who had undergone surgery for cancer.  He felt compelled to describe to Alex his journey toward faith in Christ.  The words came in a flood.  For at least several hours, Kornfeld spoke to the young cancer patient.

The next morning, Dr. Kornfeld was dead.  Someone had beaten him in the head with a mallet.

Alex thought long and hard about the doctor’s story and his life-changing faith.  He, too, decided to become a Christian.  Miraculously, Alex survived the gulag and wrote about his experiences there.  The book was smuggled to the West and published.

More books followed, all revealing the cruel and disastrous results of the Soviet system under the leadership of Stalin.  (At least sixty-five million Russian citizens were murdered in the gulags.)

That prisoner-become-author was Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.  The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich were two of his most famous works.  Many credit his writings as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.

Photo of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1953, right...

Photo of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1953, right after his release from the special Gulag camp at Ekibastuz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But certainly Dr. Boris Kornfeld also deserves credit.  His influence was an important catalyst.  And what about the nameless Christian who introduced Dr. Kornfeld to Jesus?

He also was used by God in a chain of events to achieve great impact upon the world.

But no one knew, including himself.  He very likely died in the gulags.

Oh, but consider his home-going to heaven.  Think of Jesus, wrapping his arm around the shoulders of this saint, saying “Well done, my devoted one.  Have I got a story for you!  Come and let me share what you have been a part of!”

We must not allow fear or anonymity to dissuade or discourage.  God may use any one of us to change the world, but he may very well wait to reveal our impact until he can tell us all about it — face to face!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, may I never miss an opportunity to be a part of your grand, over-arching plan.  May the legacy of Dr. Kornfeld, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and millions of nameless martyrs compel me to be courageous and passionate for you.  I have nothing important to lose and everything worthwhile to gain.

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