(Editor’s note: With the start of the New Year, it’s a great time to prayerfully renew our resolution to “make the best use of the time” we have with those who do not yet understand or believe the Gospel. (Colossians 4:5). Here’s a story of a couple whose resolution spanned many years as they reached out to their young friend, Naomi.)
We first met Naomi,* then a troubled 13-year-old, in 1986 at a summer camp. It took a long time to win her trust, and in the coming years we maintained nearly constant contact with her. We poured into her life all we knew, and she constantly bombarded us with questions and unique insights.
Finally, 1992, she gave up. Although attending a good church, there was so much she couldn’t understand, and the Christian life was too hard to figure out. She was tired of trying and trying, and had decided to just “go with the flow” and live life. We saw her once more after that… and we left with heavy hearts. We didn’t hear from Naomi for a few years, but we continued to pray for her.
In 1998, to our surprise, we received a wonderful e-mail from Naomi (now a college graduate) that left us in tears. She thanked us for our friendship and for all we had done for her and meant to her. We finally met up again in August 2000, had a wonderful visit, and gave her the book, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus.
Not long after, Naomi wrote again:
“I…wanted to let you know that I have started reading [THE STRANGER] and am loving it. As a matter of fact, I am almost finished. This was exactly the book I was looking for. I know that I am reading it so fast that I will have to calm down and read it again when I’m finished. Thank you so much for the gift. It is the best. Everything is so clearly laid out. And then at the end [the author] goes back for a summary on how everything that God said, (from his warning about sin resulting in death to Jesus dying on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice) relates to the big picture. I really like the illustrations too. I know that may sound funny but the picture of the gulf between God and man as a result of sin that is shown repeatedly throughout the book is very helpful. It keeps all the attempts that man has made to bridge that gap on his own very clear for the reader and helps to show the shortcomings of man. I also like the excitement and energy that the book conveys. Even though I know the story, when [it was] laid out that plainly, my heart was racing. And then when God sent His only Son to die for our sins, I almost leapt out of my chair. I wanted to jump into the book and tell all the confused people that they should be having a massive celebration. Maybe I get too excited when I read, I don’t know. Again, thank you.”
If you have a “Naomi” in your life–someone you’ve known for many years–don’t give up on them! This New Year, prayerfully renew your resolution before the Lord to “make the best use of the time” by praying for them, staying in touch with them, and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with them clearly.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ … that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” ~Colossians 4:2-6
How are you planning to share the Gospel this coming year? Discover resources you can GIVE as a gift, or learn how to GUIDE your friend to clearly understand the Gospel.
(*Name changed per GoodSeed policy.)