Sunday, May 25, 2014

Keep Planting...and Watering

A Canadian pastor named Oswald Smith was famous for saying, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” Certainly, I agree everyone should have the opportunity to get saved. God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Still, there are multitudes that need to hear the Good News numerous times before they will respond favorably to the call for salvation. Four years ago while ministering at a church in Illinois, I took a survey during the morning and evening services. I asked the congregation how many times they heard the gospel before they got born again. Most people didn’t raise their hands until I counted up to five or six times.

I’m also a living testimony of this truth. While attending Sunday school and going through confirmation at a Lutheran church, I was never taught I must be born again. It wasn’t until I was sixteen when I first truly heard the gospel. In the winter of 1980, my best friend David invited me to a Bible camp. There a group of Christian musicians told a story illustrating how God sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. The story planted a seed in my heart that bore fruit years later.

In June 1981 while attending a Young Life meeting another friend invited me to, a drama sketch was performed showing various individuals trying to talk to God but He wasn’t responding to their prayers. A minister then explained man became separated from God because of sin. Our prayers cannot be heard unless we make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I thought to myself, certainly I want God to hear my prayers. So I stood up along with a few other teenagers and publicly announced I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Back then I didn’t fully recognize the importance of what I had just done. 

Various factors influenced me to drift away from Christianity. One of them was a strong love for secular music. Twice I attended seminars put on two preachers crusading against the evils associated with rock music. Dan and Steve Peters recommended listening to “Christian rock” and gospel music only. The Contemporary Christian Music I heard back then sounded lame and outdated compared to the secular stuff I enjoyed. I thought to myself; if I have to be a good little Christian by listening to this wimpy stuff all day long, then forget it!

In 1985 I enlisted in the Army National Guard. During my active duty time, my grandparents sent letters encouraging me to go to church but I resisted attending services at the army base. I also had a fellow platoon member named Cleveland who kept urging me to get God into my life. One night while our platoon camped out in the field, some of the men talked about spiritual things. I heard one of them claim the devil is real and initially comes across as a beautiful person. At the time I didn’t believe there was such a person as the devil.

In early 1989 while I worked at a music store, a pastor and his wife stopped in to buy a synthesizer. They informed me Prince’s former bodyguard “Big Chick” Huntsberry attended their church and offered to introduce me to him. Eventually, I heard Big Chick speak at a different church. After ex-Prince guitarist Dez Dickerson sang a couple Christian songs, Chick gave his testimony. I was pleased to hear he got delivered from drug addiction but couldn’t relate to his declaration of loving Jesus Christ. I thought, how could you love somebody you can’t even see? I still had a hard time believing in the supernatural.

A year later while attending Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, I had a classmate who told me I needed God in my life. One morning while giving Robin a ride to school, she shared testimonies of how God provided for her. Robin also invited me to a Friday night gathering that I later realized was Christian-oriented. I was still resistant to the things of God but again more seeds were planted and watered.

Finally on March 19, 1991, I prayed with my sister and her husband to receive salvation. Suddenly I recalled all the people God previously used to minister to me. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Bible also says that God confirms His word by the mouth of two or three witnesses.

We all can play a part in the harvest of souls regardless if we pray with a particular person. When I’m out evangelizing, God often leads me to people who already believe the gospel but haven’t been confronted with the need to make a decision for Christ. So whenever the Lord prompts you to witness to someone you know has repeatedly heard the Good News, don’t be disobedient. You might be the one to lead that person to eternal life.

“So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” - 1 Corinthians 3:7-8

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