One of the greatest challenges in ministry (particularly missions) is being surrounded by darkness. I’m not referring to physical darkness of course but spiritual darkness of people’s hearts who don’t know Christ. Thankfully the Lord provides Christian brothers and sisters who help bring the light of the Gospel into the world, but sometimes the surrounding darkness overwhelms, and we begin to feel as if we are the only light.
Often this overwhelming experience is connected with an attempt to lead someone to Christ or discleship them in the faith, only to see them reject the Gospel, or fall back into sin. Putting our time, energy, and prayers into someone only to see darkness prevail ( Of course sin cannot overcome the Gospel but God allows individuals to choose their own way) can be a very frustrating experience. In those moments we must remember the light of the Gospel is still doing its work even if we cannot see it.
Often God chooses to bring changes into a person’s life one step at a time instead of all at once. In these situations the Holy Spirits conviction along with God’s Truth stabs small holes into the darkness…holes of light that we may not be able to see without paying very close attention. So every once in a while He allows use to see the Gospel poke through the darkness of an unsaved persons life.
Last week I was at the Church when one of the children came by and said “Mr. John (name omitted) the thiefed (stole) your dollar!” Evidently the day before I’d left a one dollar coin in my bag that’s used for Bible club, and he had grabbed it while my back was turned. Knowing it had to be dealt with right away I locked up the Church and immediately walked over to his house.
On the way over I was praying the Lord would help me get a confession from him. As most of you know getting a child to admit they did something wrong is difficult, and getting a heart-felt apology is almost impossible without physical discipline. The truth is the dollar didn’t bother me, my main goal was getting him to admit wrongdoing.
He was standing near the house so I immediately asked him to come over so we could talk. Slowly the boy started towards me but suddenly his sister walked over with a dollar in her hand and immediately paid me back (he had already spent the dollar he stole). She then stood by as I asked him questions and when he didn’t respond sternly said “answer the man!” Later on that day his mother APOLOGIZED TO ME for her son taking the money, something that has NEVER happened before.
Please understand my point here isn’t that Vincencians are wicked people who think stealing is okay (they aren’t). But I’ve learned from experience that the first response of a parent is defend their child, or downplay their mistake, not publicly apologize. And siblings don’t naturally back up authority figures in today’s culture.
For me that was a moment I could see light poking through the darkness. To my knowledge none of that family is saved, but the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts, and uses situation like last week to show their need of a redeemer.
This week I sat in Church with that same little boy and we talked about Gods standard for entering Heaven being perfection. “(Name omitted) are you perfect ?” I asked, and he immediately answered “no!” Now I’m not sure if thiefing my dollar had anything to do with that answer, but he has come to a point of knowing without the help of Christ he cannot be saved…and that’s definitely a point of light poking through the darkness.
Evangelism and discipleship are hard because all we can see is the darkness….but in those moments we know the Gospel is poking unseen holes into thier darkened hearts.