When it comes to witnessing, do you ever wonder if you’re ever doing any good at all? Are you often frustrated by the lack of interest…or discouraged by criticism? Is there someone in your life right now who insists on challenging you, maybe even insulting you for your testimony and faith in Christ? Then I pray that today you will be encouraged by a very unlikely testimony of one of the most unlikely of converts!
One day many years ago, there was a missionary on the street in Zimbabwe, giving away New Testaments to the people that passed by him. Most, it seemed, were receptive and gladly took the little Book with them. But one man stood at a distance instead, and insisted on mocking the missionary relentlessly, even cursing the Book and all who willingly received it. The missionary simply continued to smile at all who walked by, handing them out one by one until there was just one left to give. The missionary stood there for a minute, then turned to the man and kindly asked if he would like to have the last one. The man sneered and said, “If I take it, I’ll only use it to roll my cigarrettes.” The missionary politely replied,” That’s fine - only read it before you smoke it.”
The man laughed, and went home and did just that. First he smoked Matthew….then Mark…then Luke… and even the first two chapters of John, page by page, before he suddenly stopped. Just as he was about to roll another cigarrette, one verse in particular caught his eye. He sat there and read it…again and again. Tears began to well up in this hardened man’s eyes as he read those words over and over… suddenly he began to pray to the very God who just hours before he had mocked. It was at that very moment, the man knew his life had forever changed. He continued to read and never smoked another page! Before long he had finished the entire New Testament and sat on the floor completely in awe of God’s grace and the Words he had just read.
Fifteen years passed. By this time God had done such a work in that man’s life that he was now a missionary and preacher himself, and traveled to various meetings as part of his vocation. At one such meeting, he finally saw the older missionary from that street in Zimbabwe all those years before…who had given him the New Testament. He ran up to him and said, “Remember me? I was the man from the street that day who laughed and insulted you and your God. I even smoked His Word page by page….but guess what? God got my attention all those years ago as one verse in particular pierced all the way through my hardened, nasty soul…. and I’ve been telling others about Him ever since!” The two men hugged and praised God for His faithfulness. The older missionary then confessed that he had wondered whatever happened that day after he gave away the last New Testament. He often wondered if it had even been the right thing to do….maybe he should have waited for one more person to walk by and given it to them instead… He told the man, “If you had moved on, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it…I’d have let you go and given it to someone else….but you didn’t. You stuck around and the harder I prayed for you to leave me alone, the louder you became in your insults. Finally, I gave in and with one left, I somehow knew God intended it for you.” They talked and shared together, rejoicing all the while in what GOD had done that day. Finally, the older missionary asked the younger, “May I ask what verse it was - that God spoke through to you?” The younger man smiled and with tears in his eyes quoted it word for word:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Dear Christian, I pray that we will somehow understand and keep in our hearts continually the truth that the final outcome is never about us or our words or even our best laid out plans to reach this world for Christ…no matter how brilliant they may be! The power is ALL of Him! I’m thankful for the missionary who simply trusted GOD that day rather than his own reasoning. In spite of the other man’s intentions, he knew that GOD is fully capable of doing what only GOD can do in the first place! We may look at someone and see rebellion…or hatred…with no interest at all in the things of GOD….maybe they even insist on making our life as difficult as possible…but stand firm. Be gentle with them even when they are cruel. Simply commit yourself into the very capable hands of Almighty God, and wait on Him. As their words, like darts of the enemy, bounce off your armor (Ephesians 6:10-17)… think on Him, and who HE is…and how small the trials of life really are compared to the matchless glory of knowing Him for all eternity!
What a privilege….that the Creator of all the Universe would think of us and allow us to be a part of His work here at all. It may take fifteen years or more and we may never see the fruit of our testimony here on earth – but rest assured – GOD is always at work. It’s never for nothing! HE knows. HE sees. And perhaps HE’s even preparing the hearts of those around you right now for the seed you’re about to plant there. Dear Christian, just remember- it’s not of us, but GOD. And with GOD, all things are most certainly possible!
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but GOD gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but GOD that gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:6,7