Cody’s story: Jesus has changed my life

Cody grew up in a house where God didn’t really exist. He had great parents who taught him things like “don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal, show respect to others, respect your elders…” However, the family never went to church. The name of God was never spoken. Though Cody endeavoured to live a respectable life, he was ignorant of the true Source of right and wrong.

Then Cody met Julia. It didn’t take long before the two were married, and shortly after, Julia started a new job. She came home the first day and talked about how great everyone was at her new workplace. One person’s name seemed to stand out in particular. Her name was Liz and, “Wow! She is so nice!” were Julia’s words.

Liz began mentoring Julia at work and, after a while, wanted to get a small group together with Cody, Julia and a few others. The purpose would be to study the Bible. Cody’s instant response was an adamant “No!”

Time went on but whenever Julia talked to her husband about the opportunity, he was still resistant to the idea. When she asked why, Cody told her, “I don’t need to go to a Bible study or growth group or attend a church to have a relationship with God.” Looking back, Cody calls that “the biggest cop-out lie” he’s ever told!

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20th Anniversary of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus

It’s amazing the sort of impact one book can have. 20 years ago, in 1997, the book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus was published. At the time, author John R. Cross and the men working with him had no idea that it would be the catalyst for a global ministry and how many people would come to faith in Christ through it. It was just one book with a simple message: a straightforward, systematic presentation of the gospel from creation to the cross.

The writing of The Stranger was drawn from decades of missionary experience of those working among tribal people in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. These tribes, previously unevangelised and ignorant of the Bible’s message, responded well to a chronological presentation of the gospel. So well, in fact, that whole villages were putting their faith in Christ, without the age-old problems of syncretism and “rice Christians.” When the Bible was presented from creation to Christ, it made profound sense. The people would understand and believe. Lives were transformed.

But was it only tribal groups who responded so well to the creation-to-Christ method? What about the Western world? As John and his colleagues interacted with people back home in North America and around the world, they realized that some of these people were just as ignorant of the Bible as the tribal people. They knew nothing about God. They didn’t understand who Jesus was and why he came. We live, for the most part, in a post-Christian culture.

The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus was, in a sense, an experiment. It was a book that used the same method that had proven so effective with tribal groups—a chronological approach to explaining the gospel—except this time for the Western world. It was designed so that it could be given away or used to guide people to a clear understanding of the Bible. But would it be relevant and effective?

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Lonely international student finds hope in the gospel

Chunhua’s* knowledge of the Bible was spotty at best. As a little child in China, she remembered her mother talking about Christianity, but she had no grasp of what it meant to have a relationship with God. This all changed when she came to Canada as an international student.

The experience of living in a foreign country was one she had looked forward to for years. But when the excitement and novelty wore off, Chunhua found adjusting to the new culture and language difficult. She was lonely, having never been away from her parents before.

It was at this critical juncture of her life that she met a group of exuberant Christian young people who ran a ministry on campus for people like her. They were about bringing college students together in meaningful and supportive friendships, all the while introducing them to the message of the Bible. As part of their get-togethers, they would show the Videobook of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and they invited Chunhua to join them.

At first, Chunhua hestitated to commit, but the friendliness and sincerity of her new friends finally won her over. She started watching the DVD series together with other international students. She loved what she learned.

Chunhua discovered that, as a result of what Jesus did on the cross, she could have a relationship with God as her kind and good Father. This meant everything to this young girl living alone in a foreign country.

She shared after: “I have been able to establish a more solid understanding about the Bible and Christian belief. The DVD filled the gaps in my knowledge framework about the Bible and helped make sense to me of how the world operates.”

Speaking of the video sessions, she says, “Without it, there would have been no possibility for me to start seeking Christ and establish my own belief.” Now, as a result of the welcoming friendship of her Christian friends and their faithful witness, she understands and believes the gospel.

What a testimony to the great opportunity we have to reach into the lives of international students and immigrants! If you want more ideas of how to do so, as well as other testimonies, check out our full-length article How GoodSeed tools can help you reach International Students.

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

A school assignment turns into a time of rejoicing

Peter and Louise Johnson* have lived in the same neighbourhood for almost two decades. And right next door to them has always been the same older couple, Bill and Mary Robinson. Over the years, the neighbourly relationship between the two couples has developed into a deep friendship. In many ways, they consider each other just like family.

The Johnsons knew from early on that their friends were not believers. Over time, Bill and Mary revealed that while they had grown up in ultra-religious homes, at some point they’d left church life due to “the bitter taste that had been left in their mouths.” Though this experience was now part of their history, the Robinsons maintained the “good works for Heaven” mentality that they’d been steeped in. The Johnsons longed to see these dear ones come to know the Saviour.

When Mary had a heart attack years before, the Johnsons had taken the opportunity to share the gospel. However, they quickly realized that while a seed may have been planted, nothing had changed regarding the Robinson’s views on the Bible.

What was obvious to Peter and Louise, however, was that their friends were searching. Bill was a big reader and often his books were of a religious nature relating somehow to Jesus or the Bible. Usually they were books off the New York Times Best Sellers and not necessarily biblically sound, but he seemed to have maintained an interest in spiritual things, despite his aversion to church.

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Using the Worldview Survey, Part II: Discovering your friend’s worldview

In Using the Worldview Survey, Part I: Sharing the gospel when time is short, we shared how the Worldview Survey questions can be used as a springboard to sharing the gospel when you only have a short time with an individual (perhaps in a waiting room, interacting with a door-to-door salesman, or in a street evangelism context). In this second article, we share more specifically on how you can use the questions to discover the beliefs of the individual before moving on to share the gospel.

The conversation was going so smoothly. The young woman in front of me seemed to be eagerly digesting each point I made as I walked her through the gospel message. She was nodding her head, agreeing with me when I’d ask her questions and assuring me she understood. Great! Next up, the sinner’s prayer, right? We’d been conversing for some time when she finally began to open up more about her own worldview, extinguishing my optimism. Apparently she was exploring a pagan religion. She worshipped the earth. She wasn’t terribly bothered by her sin. Surely God could be expressed in many forms and there were many ways to seek him.

It was surprising to me that she could both agree with what I’d been saying, while at the same time hold to these very opposing viewpoints. She was, by definition, a post-modern thinker.

As she walked away from me a little later, I realized that I’d spent a long time sharing the gospel to a woman who did not have the foundations in place to understand it. While I knew God could still bless and use my feeble efforts, surely I could be more effective if I’d had an idea of the worldview of my listener before I dove into sharing the Bible’s message.

I realized I needed a method of quickly determining one’s worldview and finding a way to discern their true understanding of the Bible’s message, so that I could know how to proceed with the truths of the gospel

The Worldview Survey (originally published in the book And Beginning with Moses), a list of nine simple and objective questions, is designed to give a person a good idea of what their student believes. It’s a helpful tool for many situations, but especially handy if you’re not sure how to approach sharing the gospel with an individual or what tool would suit them best.

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Reaching out to an unbelieving housemate

Kaoru* learned about the upcoming Bible study at a local church. The elder explained that the course would be good for everyone: experienced Christians, new Christians, non-Christians and Christians who wanted to share the good news with their friends.

Her thoughts turned immediately to Bronwyn, her housemate. Yes, I want to learn how to share the gospel with her, her heart sang. So, Kaoru signed up for the course and dutifully attended it. The course used the book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. During the course, one leader read the commentary, while the second leader read the Scripture verses. They also showed video clips that helped explain the Bible’s story. This way, the leaders explained, those attending the course were already practicing the teaching style so the participants could also lead a study on their own.

Kaoru had been in Australia only a short time on a working holiday visa. Searching for a place to rent, she ended up as housemates with Bronwyn, a local. As a believer, Kaoru also sought a local church where she could worship God with other believers. “It’s pretty rare in Japan to be brought up in a Christian home,” she explains, “but I am from a Christian family and I myself have been a Christian for 15 years.”

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The right key

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9 NIV).

It was one of those days that are irrevocably engraved on his memory, and the small details remain vivid to this day. He can still remember the fresh autumn air on his face, and walking across the field with his two children. It was a warm fall day, a beautiful Sunday… until the mobile phone began to ring in his pocket.

“Tomasz*, please come home!” The voice of his wife sounded strange.

“Has something happened?”

“Just come home, please! Immediately!”

When Tomasz looked into his wife’s face a short time later, he knew something terrible had happened.

“Please call your parents in Poland. Let them tell you. It’s about your brother.”

A despair spread over Tomasz when he heard about the house fire. Then came the crushing realization that his brother had likely died in the flames.

Any remnant of hope was crushed when, a few days later, the police identified his brother as a victim of the fire. In a moment, a life had been extinguished. The life of his only brother.

Until then, Tomasz had lived a traditionally religious life. He knew that God was the supreme authority in a person’s life. Accordingly, he endeavoured to be a man of good deeds. He prayed, revered the saints and visited the church–all in an effort to please God. But the sudden death of his brother highlighted the transient nature of life. Tomasz felt a yearning to change the way he was living.

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