The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
There were those in the ministry who were not overwhelmingly happy to see me. I had a group of students in Bible study, all of whom were struggling. This was the hardest group that I had yet taken. Though I liked each one very much, they all had struggles in faith, so leading the study was a challenge of trying to overcome major theological difficulties. It seemed like the studies never went straight.
With these struggles I was often at the point of losing hope, and giving up on them. I was certainly not inclined to go and visit them and fulfil the pastoral role that the Lord had given. Then in one of the studies we were looking at the Cross of Jesus, and came to: “It was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life passed down to you by your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV)
Jesus had died for each one of these students. Each one was so precious to him that he had given his own blood for them. If that is how valuable they were to Jesus, then I too should value them. I should be ready to give of myself with the same love that Jesus has for them. The practicalities of this were different for each one.
For Jimmy a Chinese student studying Electronics, it was a bit of a pointless pursuit. There were times when he was ready to see me and times when though in, he would send a message to say he was not available. The number of times that I was turned away either at his door or his phone go without number. Some years later, he was on a return visit from Hong Kong. Life had become a bit hot, due to a run in with the Triads. He explained to me how bad he was, and gave an example of how he had treated me. When I explained that I had always known, he was shocked. Why was it I had continued with him? My answer, Jesus put up with worse treatment from me, so how could I not put up with such treatment from him.
Billy a Botswanan student, had apparently come to faith in his first year. He had so many struggles in keeping to the faith, that we both concluded that in fact he had never really received Jesus into his life. This produced the rather complex struggle of helping someone down a path as if he had faith, while being sure that he did not. I would visit him frequently and had good times together as he gradually built up confidence that I was not treating him as a project for conversion, but as a friend. A number of issues came up in his life through which I could point to faith. It was a delicate time of picking out what was key, giving a simple pointer to Jesus, and then leaving it. Finally there came the issue of his final exams. He was terrified that he would get a 3rd class degree and lose his job in Botswana. We prayed, and saw God come through. Later keeping in contact through e-mail, it became clear that he had returned to God as he faced some trials in life back home. Truly, there is “more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV)