Don’t stop! We want to hear more!

bonfireSummer Bible camp. How Megan* loved the week-long escape into the quiet of nature. The rustic cabins nestled among the evergreens, the liveliness of the campers, the crackling bonfires in the evening… it was all one big highlight. But there was something that brought even more joy to Megan, and that was watching God at work in the hearts of the campers.

When Megan was asked to be a main speaker at a girls’ Bible camp, she was more than willing to oblige. She also knew what she would talk about. Ever since she had attended a TERM Seminar, she had been sharing the gospel using a Creation-to-Christ approach. She decided to use the five days of camp to do this once again.

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Remember the road we’ve travelled

vietnamIt is 1979. Minh Trang* is three years old. In the cover of darkness, his family boards a makeshift boat on the coast of Vietnam. The boat is meant to hold 20 but 70 frightened people are crushed together, shoulder to shoulder. It is dangerous in the rickety vessel because it can capsize in a heartbeat. But to suffer at the hands of the communist regime is worse. Minh’s parents decide to risk this flight in the dark.

Thus began more than eight months at sea. Minh has never forgotten that terrifying time. Eventually, after many trials and a circuitous route, his family landed in Canada. They had escaped death but not misery. It was a struggle for Minh’s parents to rebuild their lives. They had been doctors in Vietnam but now in Quebec, they had to be re-qualified as Canadian physicians. There was a quota system for foreigners so both parents struggled as they learned French, worked at menial jobs, took care of the children and laboured towards being certified as doctors.

Minh remembers those difficult years. His parents eventually qualified as doctors and inspired by their perseverance, he too has become a physician. But even as life improved, Minh was searching for something more. He wanted answers to what life was all about.

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This one makes sense!

wheelchairLorna* had been bedridden for years. The cold walls of hospitals and nursing homes were all too familiar to her as she lived day after day in a routine of doctor visits and prescriptions. Lorna’s fragile health was the result of years of physical abuse from multiple men in her life and teenage alcoholism. Lorna had come from a traditionally religious background, but she knew so little about hope and freedom. And with few friends and a family who didn’t bother visiting her, each passing day accentuated her loneliness and isolation. She felt like a prisoner in her wheelchair.

Belinda first met Lorna when she was a caregiver in her home. Belinda’s heart broke over Lorna and she did what she could for the older woman but they lost touch soon after. Belinda continued to pray that salvation would come to Lorna and her family and hoped that one day they would reconnect.

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Preacher, can you help me?

Car wreck

It was a warm Sunday in late fall. The church service was over, and Pastor Sam,* his wife Karen, and their seven children enjoyed some time of fellowship with their friends before piling into the van. Sixteen-year-old Andrew hopped into the driver’s seat of the big 15-passenger van, and Pastor Sam settled into the front passenger seat. They only lived a few miles from church, but every little bit of driving practice was good experience for Andrew. Once Karen and the children were settled in, Andrew drove out of the parking lot and onto the highway. It was little Stephanie’s fourth birthday, and they were looking forward to an afternoon party at home with family and friends.

One moment there were the happy sounds of the children talking, then CRASH! The deafening screech of tires was followed instantly by the sickening sound of crunching metal. The children erupted in screams. Sam was disoriented but regained his senses quickly. Glancing back, he was shocked to discover the front of a black pickup actually in the van! It had smashed through the two rear doors.

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A scene straight out of the book of Acts

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A scene straight out of the Book of ActsIn a quiet German city, the Monday night study had come to an end. Fourteen participants had been coming together once a week for fifteen weeks. Several were believers who had wanted to learn more about the Bible. Others were accompanying friends who had never read the Bible before. In this gathering were Germans, Russian-Germans and Italians. And in all the weeks that the group met, no one dropped out.

There was nothing new or radical in what was taught. The study leader simply used the German edition of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus to take the participants though a simple and coherent explanation of the gospel message. For many in the study, they heard the gospel clearly for the first time.

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That’s not going to work

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Storm clouds

Anne* grew up in a family that was fairly religious. Her mother would read and teach the Bible to her four children. Anne remembers Mom rousing the children early on Sunday mornings to get them ready for church service.

But as she grew up, Anne fell away from Sunday school and, by the time she reached high school, she had dropped out of church. The crowd she hung out with were troublemakers. They introduced her to alcohol and she ended up getting into trouble with the law. Though there were people who cared enough to ask her why she was walking this path, she turned a deaf ear to them. She simply didn’t care to listen or to change.

Fast forward to her adult years. By now, Anne had married twice, ending up with a daughter and five step-children. With so many young ones to care for, she tried to clean up her life. Anne modelled her mother’s behaviour—she took the children to church, started reading her Bible and did her best to be a good person.

When her daughter was baptised, Anne felt a strong desire to find God. But how? She had thought that being a good person—helping others and doing good things—would make her acceptable in God’s eyes. But there was a nagging doubt in the pit of her stomach that she wasn’t succeeding. However she didn’t know where to find answers.

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Just throw me down the stairs

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Woman staring at the sunCandice’s* emotional life was in a free fall. Her thoughts were consumed by wanting to escape from work and from her life. One day at work she approached a flight of stairs. Glancing down at the steps before her, Candice turned to her co-worker and said, “Just throw me down the stairs!”

She got her wish the next day when she fractured her tailbone while snowboarding. Her injury gave her time to reflect on her life. For months now, she had been a zombie at work. To protect herself, she realized she had “turned off” her emotions every time she was at work. Now Candice discovered that she could not turn them back on. She felt she was becoming a robot, at risk of losing all her humanity. Candice was in complete misery. She felt trapped, with no way out.

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There’s no way you’re sharing that story!

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Can we meet?Sandra* is an easygoing person with an affable manner that allows her to easily make friends with strangers. She knows how to tell a story and she can engage in tough conversations without getting into an argument. She has been volunteering at a hospital and gets to meet many types of patients. Not too long ago, she met Erin, who was dying of a serious illness. Having appreciated an earlier visit, Erin wanted another opportunity to talk to Sandra. Fortunately, Erin’s doctor, who was sympathetic to her needs, also knew Sandra and so arranged for the two women to have some time together.

What ensued was a three-hour meeting. Sandra had brought along with her a copy of What are Christmas and Easter All About? and, with Erin’s permission, was able to read aloud the entire booklet. Sandra went on to answer Erin’s questions and, by the end of their visit, Erin had put her trust in Jesus for salvation. She was now a believer!

Barely three weeks after this meeting, Erin passed away. She left a letter instructing her young adult sons to invite Sandra to speak at her funeral. Erin specifically requested that Sandra read aloud What are Christmas and Easter All About?, just as she had done during that earlier time together. A furore broke out. Jeremy, Erin’s brother, strongly objected to Sandra’s presence at the funeral.

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You gotta do it again. You’re not saved

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Brad Powell struggled for many years to understand what salvation meant. Brad grew up in a religious family whose faith was based on fear. They were focused on doing the ‘right’ things and doing their best to avoid the ‘wrong’ things. Every day, he feared he wasn’t good enough to be accepted by God.

Brad’s family firmly believed that baptism was the necessary means for salvation. During Brad’s baptism, his father was leading the ritual when the pastor stopped them and said, “You gotta do it again. You didn’t go all the way under the water.” Hearing this just crushed Brad’s heart. He was never certain of his salvation.

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He was contemplating suicide that very morning

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Lonely treeSome years ago, 19-year-old Reuben* attended a Bible study. He was not a believer but he wanted to learn the message of the Bible. He was given a book, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and, over a number of weeks, was taught the gospel message. At the end of the study, he put his trust in Christ for salvation.

After telling his family that he was now a believer, his younger brother Conner became very spiteful and gave Reuben a nasty time. Though this caused Reuben to struggle with his faith, he never gave up what he believed. Meantime, Conner simply made things worse. He terrorized his brother, both verbally and physically. What Reuben didn’t know at the time was that Conner was struggling to find any meaning in his life.

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