Just as the sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow only Him, will we also choose to hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him?
Written By Madeline Twooney, Germany
I remember the moment l entered a relationship with Jesus as though it were yesterday.
It happened 10 years ago, on a chilly January evening. My friend Hannah led me in prayer and confession while we were seated in her car, parked outside a supermarket. In a declaration of faith, l accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
The change was immediate: l felt clean and light, as if all my past mistakes and bad decisions had been erased. More importantly, l felt loved and accepted for who l was, despite my failures and flaws; a love which could only have come from God.
As the months went by, l embraced the chance to start my life afresh with God, with fervent gratitude and a heart that burned to know my Savior more and more. Hannah became one of my mentors, and she taught me about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)—how God calls us to spread the good news of the Bible.
My thoughts went immediately to my closest friends who didn’t know Jesus. I realized that the struggles and pain my friends experienced were often a reflection of their search for purpose in life, for identity. This broke my heart.
l wanted to help my friends know the same freedom, peace, and love from a merciful Father that l did. Additionally, l was concerned about the possibility of my friends’ eternal separation from God if they did not enter a relationship with Him. Therefore, l made up my mind to “help” my friends along the path to salvation, which led to an awkward incident between them and myself.
It happened one fateful weekend when my friends and l were visiting Amsterdam. On Saturday night, a few members of our group wanted to visit the red light district, where tourists flock in droves to look at sex workers behind red-lit glass doors. This did not sit well with me. While my friends thought that the experience would be a harmless act of cheeky window-watching, I thought of the desperate circumstances that pushed these women to such a place. l felt for them.
I told my friends that God intended our bodies to be holy and acceptable to Him (Romans 12:1), and that as a Christian, l would not pursue the things of this world. Instead, l would pursue God and so should they. Well, as we British say, that went down like a lead balloon. Some of my friends told me straight out that it wasn’t my place to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, and most of all, what they should believe.
I wanted my friends to know the love of Jesus, but that setback helped me see that l wasn’t responsible for their salvation—they were. God desires each of us to willingly choose a relationship with Him, and I could not force anyone to a choice—whether through shame or other methods. However, l do have an obligation to share the Gospel. Since that awkward incident, l have been learning to minister to my friends in different ways, in the hopes that it would draw them to the light of Christ.
Here are four ways that I’ve learned to reach out to my non-Christian friends:
1. Let Our Faith Shine Through Our Lives
l can be a good spokesperson for Christ when my friends see the way l live my life as a Christian. I love the words of Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
One big change that happened after I became a Christian was that I no longer used swear words. Not only did my friends notice this change, but now they actually apologize to me if they accidentally swear in my presence!
Instead of speaking negatively, l now try to use my words to encourage and uplift those around me (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I try to show my friends God’s love by being patient, kind and empathetic with them, just as Jesus is with us.
2. Share Testimonies
God is constantly working in our lives, and we get to share it with our friends. When my husband and l were struggling financially, God came through and provided us with income from sources such as friends, an unexpected payment in our account, and even a scholarship for my husband! Not only do my friends get to witness how God has changed my life around, but they also get to learn more about God through what occurs in my life.
I have noticed that my friends are more receptive to hearing about God when they can see a tangible working of His role as a living God and loving Father. Some of my friends have even started attributing good things in their lives to God’s blessings, instead of the result of their hard work or simply luck or fate.
3. Create A Safe Space of Mutual Respect
My friends and l have created a safe space in our relationship, where we mutually respect one another, and each person is free to be themselves. We accept each other’s weaknesses and forgive each other when we make mistakes.
I do talk about God with my friends, but l now use discernment and weigh each situation carefully before sharing my opinions, instead of bombarding them with verses from the Bible.
Because of our safe space, my friends feel comfortable in approaching me when they do have questions about God, because they know l will neither judge them nor be sanctimonious towards them.
4. Pray for Our Friends’ Salvation
Have you seen the movie War Room? The elderly woman in the movie had a special closet—which she calls her “war room”—set aside for regular, passionate, dedicated prayer on behalf of people around her.
I pray for my friends’ salvation a lot. l have written down a list of people l hope will one day come into a relationship with Christ, and hung this list up in my spare room—my own “war room.” During my quiet time with God, l pray over this list and intercede for my friends and loved ones.
My friends may one day choose Christ, or they may not. Either way, l will continue to be friends with them and love them with the love that Christ has shown me.
Having said that, l will not give up hope that, one day, my friends will accept Jesus into their hearts. Until that day comes, l will continue to have faith, believe in God’s mercy, and pray.
Written By Jean, Malaysia, Originally In Simplified Chinese
I was born into a Christian family. Since I was young, I have been attending weekly Sunday School classes, Sunday services and even family cell groups.
Growing up in church, I often heard stories of people’s extraordinary encounters with God. Some were healed from their sicknesses. Some heard God’s voice when they were invited to church one day. Some were filled with the Holy Spirit and after accepting Christ, their lives were completely transformed.
Such testimonies amazed me. I came to believe that if I, too, had such a powerful testimony, I could definitely bring more people to Christ.
Even though I fully believed that Jesus died for my sins and resurrected after three days, I was once told that the mark of someone who is saved is a life-changing testimony. After some time, I started to believe that only believers with such compelling testimonies were true Christians. And this bothered me greatly because I didn’t have a dramatic testimony. Was I truly saved?
While wrestling with this question, I continued serving actively in church, reading the Bible, and praying daily. During this period, God faithfully ministered to me through sermons, His Word, and the people around me. In spite of these, I still struggled with my salvation.
In pursuit of a “perfect” testimony, I decided to deliberately attempt to stray from God. I stopped reading the Bible and praying. I also tried to serve less in church. I thought that having such experiences would give me a great story to share about how I had “turned away” from God and then turned back to Him again.
However, my heart was not at peace even as I went through with my plan. I was afraid to pray even though I wanted to. Then one day, I decided that it was time to “repent”, and I began to read the Bible and pray again.
Deep within, I felt quite pleased that I finally had a seemingly “perfect” testimony. However, whenever I thought about sharing this “testimony”, my heart would not be at peace—because I knew that I had fabricated it. Whenever I shared my “testimony”, I would always feel guilty.
I finally realized how foolish I had been when I was 16 years old and read an article that a friend had shared on Facebook, which was written for those who had grown up in Christian families.
It started with a story of a girl who was frustrated at not having a seemingly “perfect” testimony. She asked her mother if maybe she had not been “wayward enough,” and so God had not given her such a testimony? This grabbed my attention. Wasn’t this girl just like me?
I reflected on the article, and it reminded me that God gives all of us different stories. Even though I don’t have a dramatic testimony, I still have stories of my personal encounters with God in my daily life. For example, God has always been faithful in answering my prayers, whether I am praying over exams or friendships. Sharing these little stories with my family in Christ has often been encouraging for them.
And while I do not have any exciting stories to share with non-believers, I can still find many opportunities to share about God and how He’s worked in my life. Friends in school might ask me why I am not worried about exams, for example, and then I would have an opportunity to share about how God is with me in everything. I don’t have to envy the testimonies of others because God will use different stories to draw different people to Him.
Most importantly, the greatest story—the story of how Jesus came down to earth to redeem all men and draw us to God—has already been written, and all of us get to participate in that story.
I slowly came to the realization that I did not need a dramatic testimony to be saved. I was already saved when I acknowledged Christ as my God and believed in Him with my heart (Romans 10:9).
I felt ashamed of my ignorance. However, I was thankful for this experience as it reminded me that our Christian life is not just dependent on dramatic testimonies. What matters most is that I work on building my relationship with God, by spending time with Him daily, sharing my thoughts and feelings with Him, and asking for His guidance in life.
We don’t have to worry about having the “perfect” testimony, or envy others for their testimonies. Such envy is futile! The important thing is that we fight the good fight, run our race, and stand firm in our beliefs (2 Timothy 4:7).
Title: Take A Leaf Out Of The Bible
Artwork by: Bonny (@lovetheark)
Description: Have you ever noticed how often plants are mentioned in the Bible? This project takes a deeper look into the significance of some of the plants recorded in the Bible. The next time you come across one of these plants, may it serve as a reminder of the truths we can learn from different scenes in the Bible.
Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and disobeyed God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden. Their eyes were opened to sin and in their shame, they used fig leaves to cover their nakedness. The perfect love relationship between God and man was broken.
‘But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”’ (Genesis 3:9). Despite their disobedience and the alienation they experienced with God after that, He sought them out and clothed them with garments of skin (Genesis 3:21).
In the same fashion, God has provided us with a covering through Jesus Christ. When we put our faith in Him, we stand justified and will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).
During the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, a massive crowd had spread palm branches on the road as they praised God and welcomed “King Jesus”. They thought that He would be the one to overthrow the Roman rule and deliver them from their oppression.
But today, we know that Jesus came to fulfill the Scripture—to deliver us from our sin through His death and give us eternal life by His resurrection. And He will come again to restore everything and declare His Kingship over all the earth.
As believers today with full knowledge of the true identity of Christ, do we anticipate His second coming with the same longing and joy?
Many of us worry that our faith seems too small, doubting that God acknowledges it. So we try means and ways to grow our faith, hoping that God would recognize it somehow.
However, our faith does not thrive when we focus on how much faith we have; it thrives when we focus on the object of our faith—Our Almighty God.
Even with faith as small as a mustard seed, He can accomplish His great purposes through us. Our faith is crucial not because it is great, but because He is. No matter how insufficient we think our faith is, let’s keep on praying, knowing that He hears our prayers.
“Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:23-24).
Using an allegory that foreshadowed His death, resurrection and salvation plan, Jesus likened His body to a kernel of wheat that dies and produces a great harvest. In His grace and mercy displayed through His death, His sacrifice gives eternal life to all who believes in Him.
We can embrace the new and abundant life we now have in Christ. But this includes denying ourselves as we choose to follow Him. Self-denial is no easy task. No matter how hard it may be, may we always choose to live a life that bears fruit and honors Him.
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The word “Gethsemane” means “place of the olive press”—and that perfectly encapsulates the suffering that Christ had to endure for our sake.
May we always remember that our salvation came at the cost of Christ’s suffering, and respond with worship that is rooted in gratitude.
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)
God provides for the wildflowers and grass of the field much more than Solomon, Israel’s wealthiest king, could provide for himself. Likewise, He provides for His people—and much more!
Because of His complete knowledge of us and His faithful provision, we do not have to worry about our needs or what lies ahead of us. In seeking God’s Kingdom first, let us give of our time, possessions and talents generously and joyfully because in Him, we lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
YMI (which stands for Why Am I?), is a platform for Christian young people all over the world to ask questions about life and discover their true purpose. We are a community with different talents but the same desire to make sense of God’s life-changing word in our everyday lives.
YMI is a part of Our Daily Bread Ministries.
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