‘There are so many people that want it’, he says.
What’s he talking about? I ask myself. Is ‘it’ success? Wealth? Popularity?
But before I can say anything, he tells me:
‘Jesus. So many people out there want Jesus.’
I’m surprised. Really? I think to myself. I know that people need Jesus – but how often do you hear a new Christian saying that many people want Jesus?
‘There are so many non-Christians that are hungry for what only Jesus can provide’, he continues.
I look around at the group of men I’m sitting with. Four of them are new Christians – including Roger, the man who’s speaking. These men had become Christians only in the last few months.
‘Being direct, reaching out and telling people about Jesus is the best way to reach others. We’re a testament to that’, he adds.
And indeed they are.
Four new brothers in Christ, who heard the gospel through the efforts of a mutual friend. A friend named Thomas, who is not embarrassed to share his faith.
I feel rebuked. I feel ashamed for making assumptions about people. Who am I to assume that people don’t want to hear about the only One who can give Life?
Who am I to assume that people don’t want to hear about the only One who can give life?
But I thank God that Thomas shared the gospel so openly with these men. Otherwise, they might not be sitting here.
Taking every opportunity
My friend Thomas is one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet: a successful businessman (he owns a large business in the Northern Rivers). Yet he’s also refreshingly open about his faith in Christ. He’s gentle, articulate and takes every opportunity to share the gospel with those around him—including with those he does business with. And God has seen fit to bless his efforts.
I’m part of a prayer group he started that receives and sends prayer requests via text message, about people we’re sharing the gospel with. I haven’t met most of my prayer partners, nor do I know the people they’re sharing the gospel with. But we pray.
And often we hear about what God is doing. Earlier this year, God was at work in the life of a number of non-Christian men in my part of the world. And they were all connected to my Christian friend Thomas.
Soon after I joined the prayer group, I started receiving texts about Thomas’s accountant—a gentleman named Gus. Here are excerpts from the texts from Thomas, explaining Gus’ journey:
27th Feb 19
I have just finished the time with Gus. He arrived with a two page summary of what he now understands of the Gospel. It was amazing as we worked through it and clarified a few points—God was at work! He opened up about the implications of trusting in Christ. Gus turns 47 on Saturday and he said that he now clearly understands where he stands before God and wants to take the step personally by the time he is 47!
A few days later:
I have some great news to share. I have just had a call from Gus. He said he got up at 5:30 am on Saturday (His 47th birthday) and went over all he has learned from the Bible over the last 5 weeks. He said that he just wrote down all he wanted to talk to God about and His words to me were that “I have taken the leap of faith as a little child and trusted God for salvation and I am nervous”. He went on to say that he was very nervous when he committed his life to his wife Mary and that he realises God will not let him down. I assured him that God loves him and his family more than he could imagine and will never let him down. We had a special time together in prayer and are meeting up again this Wednesday. You have all shared in this journey and we should rejoice together today over another sinner who has found new life in Jesus.
A few weeks later, Thomas sends me this text:
Please pray for David. He is my marketing guy that I use for real estate sales and I have had several serious spiritual conversations over the last few months. I was with him today for a meeting and at the end, he asked what I was doing for the weekend. I told him that about 20 guys were leaving at 7 am in the morning to travel to Toukley for a Christian Men’s conference. He asked straight away if he could come and is joining about 300 guys for a men’s camp. Please pray that the weekend will impact him and that he will be saved in the coming weeks.
God is not willing that any perish but that all come to repentance—that includes David!
Please pray! On the bus with David and haven’t stopped talking together about the Gospel – he is convicted. Please pray that he will trust the Lord this weekend!
God’s love is amazing – Thomas.
Later that day another text arrives from Thomas.
I can hardly write this because I am so overjoyed. I have just spent 3 hours explaining the gospel to David, and as we were arriving at Port Macquarie, he simply prayed a sincere prayer and trusted the Lord. He just stood up in the bus full of guys and told them that he confessed his sin and trusted the Lord for salvation.
Best. Text. Ever.
After all, what could be more encouraging than seeing God at work rescuing people from the clutches of sin and judgment? And to receive notifications about it in real-time – especially after praying for David for the previous few weeks. God is so good!
What could be more encouraging than seeing God at work rescuing people from the clutches of sin and judgement?
‘I want what David has…’
Around this time Thomas starts asking prayer for another man, Roger—a co-worker of David’s:
I have just finished having coffee with Roger. He is a team member at David’s Real Estate … Roger said that he gave up religion years ago but wants a relationship with God—just like David has! Certainly brings a tear to your eye. He is committed to starting a one on one Bible Study over lunch with me every Tuesday—starting next Tuesday.
Please pray with me.
A few weeks after praying for him, Thomas sends through this message:
What a morning!
I find it a little difficult to express how I feel right now. I have experienced God powerfully at work in Roger’s life. I hardly knew the guy 8 weeks ago and because of David’s testimony and the work of the Holy Spirit, he has just asked Jesus for forgiveness and trusted God for salvation …
Please be encouraged to be bold in sharing the message of Jesus ‘as you go’ in life because there are broken people all around us and we have what they all need!
But God wasn’t done. A few weeks later, Thomas starts sending texts asking for prayer for Paul (who he works with). After meeting to read the Bible with Paul over a few weeks, Thomas sends through this text:
Great news. Paul (one of our key salesmen in our office) has left our time over breakfast rejoicing in the fact that he is now saved. He is very religious and sings in the choir at a Lismore cathedral but as he said this morning—“I never understood the gospel and certainly not the grace of God”. He was saved during the week but in a very special way thanked God for the salvation he now enjoys at the close of our time together this morning.
So many guys are now hungry for the Word! Thanks for praying—it is an amazing work of God!
Yes indeed! God’s Spirit was opening the eyes of the blind here in the Northern Rivers.
Hearing their voices first-hand
It’s not often you hear stories like this (at least not in Australia) where, in quick succession, God saves one person after another.
And so, I thought it would be good to sit down with these men and hear from them firsthand. One Friday morning, during their regular time of Bible study, I sat down with these new brothers in Christ: Gus, David, Roger, and Paul (along with Thomas and another friend James, who host the study). I wanted to hear their stories—on how God had brought them into his kingdom.
‘There was always a hole in my life … ’
David goes first, explaining what his life was like before he became a Christian:
‘[T]here was always a hole. There was something missing in my life … And what was it? It was I needed to look further into the Lord. And that was the start of my search … It started probably three months ago.
Our Christian group, we went down to Toukley. We spent a fantastic weekend down there with 300 guys studying the Bible. I realized that the journey that I had with Thomas on the bus to Newcastle was like the Ethiopian.’
And what made David decide to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour?
‘… I think what clicked for me was [that the] Lord gave his son. As our Saviour; to forgive our sins. And that was when it clicked with me. And I said, Thomas, I fully understand. The Lord has sacrificed his son for us to forgive us. And that was the start of my journey with Thomas and our church up here, which was fantastic.’
I next ask Roger about his life before meeting Jesus:
‘I always considered myself a Christian. I live my life in my Christian values, which were important to me. And I grew up in a very not a very religious upbringing. But, you know, God and Jesus were there. I had that.’
‘I went through a period where bad stuff happened … And it broke me—I broke down. I literally was into self-destruct mode for a long period of time … it was moments of desperation and I couldn’t see how to get out of that.’
However, after meeting David, things changed:
‘I started working with David, and then David introduced me to Thomas. And then as Thomas and I started talking, I realised I’ve got something to help me [and] turned to Jesus.’
‘I could have been saved back then’
Roger then shares about a time a few years earlier, when friends invited him to church while he was visiting the US:
‘I went to church with them … And I had an hour of my life where I felt the calmest and most peaceful I’ve felt for years.’
But sadly, nobody followed him up—not even his friends:
‘But at the end of that, I left. Nobody said to me, Do you want to pray with me or to talk to me? Nobody reached out.’
Although many Christians might shy away from being direct, Roger thinks being direct is a better way:
‘I think Thomas’s experience that that reaching out and offering a hand to people is amazing. I mean, we’re really a testament to that sitting here. There are so many people out that want it.’
It’s always encouraging to hear new Christians tell us how there is a deep hunger for the gospel out there!\
I went to church with them … And I had an hour of my life where I felt the calmest and most peaceful I’ve felt for years.
‘There’s got to be more than this’
Gus’s story was less dramatic, but he also felt there had to be more to life:
‘A couple of years ago, I was sitting in church with my mama. I remember very clearly. I was sitting in the back row … listening to the priest. And I thought, there’s got to be more than this. You know, I’ve heard this all before.’
‘I’m thinking there’s gotta be something more here or why am I on this earth … And then the next week I saw Thomas.’
Thomas chimes in:
‘I remember that that meeting, which was organised for business reasons. We got the business part out of the road. And Gus asked me a serious question. He reached out. But then we spent probably an hour talking about the Lord.’
‘I tried to atone for the sin I had done in the past’
Paul is the last to talk, and his story is not unfamiliar. Prior to becoming a Christian, he was nominally religious (singing in a local church choir), but didn’t understand the gospel. ‘I thought what I was doing was going to atone for the sin that I’ve done in the past,’ he says. ‘But I realise now how pointless it is.’
Knowing Thomas got him thinking about what he wanted for his life:
‘I’d known Thomas for about six years. And I knew he was a devoutly religious man … and I thought, I need this in my life. The only way to salvation is through God and accepting Jesus.’
Are there people in your life that want ‘it’?
As I finish up with the new brothers in Christ, I realise how crucial it was that Thomas was open and unashamed about his faith in Christ.
While I’m often tempted to only speak about Jesus if asked directly, Thomas has a habit of bringing Jesus into his conversations. Not in a jarring or awkward way. But in a natural way—because Jesus is an important part of his life.
And these men are a testimony to that openness.
What ‘it’ are the non-Christians in your life looking for?
You won’t know if you don’t share Him.