Skyping the gospel

skype_study_2“Is there life on other planets? Are there other universes?”

“How do you hear from God? Does he have a voice I can hear?”

“What can I do to be safe from the devil?”

The questions came thick and fast. The Chinese man sitting on the couch across from Jon* and his wife Denise was sincere—and confused. He so wanted to know everything there was to know about God. But Jon and Denise knew that before they could delve into the answers to his questions, they would need to bring him back to the basics. He needed a foundation in who God was and what Jesus had accomplished on the cross.

They had first met Mingfang at a Bible study and were struck not only with his earnest desire to know God but also with his complete biblical illiteracy. The group was just wrapping up a study on the book of Job. Within minutes, it became obvious that the young Chinese man was floundering in his attempt to follow the discussion.

Jon and Denise approached Mingfang and asked if he would be interested in going through a study that would give him the whole story of the Bible and increase his understanding of God. Mingfang was beyond excited at the idea. So Jon and Denise began going to his apartment on a weekly basis to go through the Worldview Rethink curriculum with him and his wife.

Mingfang considered himself a Christian. That’s why he had come to church and then to the small group Bible study in the first place. But his “Christianity” was a blend of Eastern thought and his own efforts to be good enough for God. He was constantly asking what he had to do. His desire in life was to be a good person.

For the first few lessons, it was difficult to stay on track. After each lesson, Mingfang would bombard Jon and Denise with a barrage of extra questions, many of which would be answered later in the book. Others could only be properly answered in the context of Christian discipleship and therefore needed to wait until he understood the gospel. Jon and Denise learned to rein in the questions and not let themselves get sidetracked. Mingfang had also only come from China three years earlier so communicating in English was sometimes a challenge. Jon and Denise used the workbook to ensure that he was comprehending the material.

It did not take long for Jon and Denise to realize that Mingfang’s wife was only sitting in on the lessons because of her husband’s wishes. She disagreed outright with the notion of a Creator, and her skepticism started negatively affecting the study. When she dropped out by her own choice, Jon and Denise were able to focus entirely on Mingfang and his search for truth.

When they started going through the Law, breaking down each commandment and its implications, Jon and Denise immediately perceived that conviction was settling in. Mingfang was becoming more and more heavy-hearted as they progressed. At the end of lesson, after emphasizing the fact that no amount of good works could outweigh our sin, he looked up with anguished eyes and asked, “Then is there no redemption for my sin?”

Jon and Denise assured him that God had made a way, and it would be revealed as they continued the study. But then they learned that Mingfang would be relocating four hours away for work purposes. He was desperate, though, to continue the study so they agreed to try using Skype once a week.

And it worked. Although occasionally a poor connection made it a struggle, every Thursday night Jon and Denise would sit at their dining room table with their laptops, leader’s guide, workbook and visual aids spread out before them. In this manner, as the weeks went by, they came to the end of chapter 14 of the Worldview Rethink course. As a means of discerning how well Mingfang had understood the material, they emailed him a list of ten questions to ponder and to write out the answers.

The following week, Jon and Denise opened the email from Mingfang and saw that he had answered most of the questions with perfect understanding and perception. They couldn’t have asked for better answers. Except for the last one. When asked where he would spend eternity if he died tonight, Mingfang had replied, “Hell.”

That evening, when Jon and Denise made their Skype call, they asked Mingfang why he had answered that question the way he did. To their dismay, Jon and Denise learned that during the week, some friends of his had persuaded Mingfang that baptism was still necessary for salvation.

Jon and Denise took the time to carefully review material and remind him of the simple truth they had covered many times already—how Jesus had paid our sin-debt in full and there was nothing more for us to do but accept it by faith. Mingfang saw his error. When Jon and Denise asked him again where he would spend eternity if he died tonight, he said with a big grin, “Heaven!”

“And how do you know that, Mingfang?” Jon and Denise asked, just to be sure.

“Because Jesus really did pay my sin debt,” came the confident answer.

The remainder of that evening was spent in going through chapter 15 of the course, and Mingfang found the concept of his new relationship with God as his Father freeing and exciting. He thanked Jon and Denise for giving him a foundation to understand God and the Bible, and said that he might be too excited to sleep that night!

Jon and Denise continue to meet with Mingfang regularly, going through the book By This Name for reinforcement of the gospel, as well as guiding him through the book of John and doing discipleship with him. Over the months, Denise has also been able to build a very good relationship with Mingfang’s wife and learned that she has contact with other Christians. Their prayer is that one day she will be open to truth and want to learn about the Bible—this time with a seeking heart.

When Jon and Denise look back at their friendship with Mingfang, they are thankful for his dogged determination to push through to the end of the study, no matter what the obstacles. They are also thankful for technology like Skype that made it possible to bring Mingfang to the conclusion of his search for truth. Most of all, they are thankful to God for his saving grace and the way he draws and saves each soul that truly seeks him.

(*Names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

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