Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"What do I have to do to get saved?"

A few weeks ago, as I was giving out care packs at the side of the truck, Jeremy* came running up to me, and with tears in his eyes, began to ask, "Ryan, what do I have to do to get saved?!" He went on, "I know the Jehovah Witnesses don't love me and their message hasn't helped me. I'm still in my sin and I don't have the Holy Spirit. What do I have to do to get saved?!"

The people of Tompkins Square Park
Even though Jeremy isn't homeless, he lives on a low income and benefits from the donations we give out at Tompkins Square Park each week. We see him almost every week, but until this point it seemed like all of my attempts to steer Jeremy away from the errors of the Jehovah Witnesses were  in vain. He routinely attends the  local Kingdom Hall and and invites the members of their congregation over to his house for Bible Studies. He's been deeply entrenched in Jehovah Witness theology for years, and adamantly opposed any attempts I would make to challenge those beliefs or direct him to the true gospel of grace. It seemed like we'd never get through to him, but God must have been working on his heart!

I was stunned and speechless. This man, who had always shut me down when I tried to explain the gospel, was now earnestly asking me how to get right with God. Not knowing exactly what to say, I grabbed a New Testament and sat down with him. I first led him to 1 Timothy 1:15 where it says "Christ came into the world to save sinners" and told him, "Jeremy, it's obvious you see your sin - that's a good thing - now you need to look to Jesus." But knowing that the Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses is NOT the Jesus of the Bible or the Jesus of history, I took him to Philippians 2:5-11, the great hymn of the early church that extols the deity, humanity, suffering, and Lordship of Jesus Christ. We spent a good while discussing the person and work of Christ, and Jeremy has never been so willing to listen.

I haven't seen him around much since that day, but in our brief interactions he has told me that he's still considering the things I shared with him. The Lord granted me an open door that day, and I trust those seeds will produce life in him.

               * Name changed for privacy

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Beautiful Bride of Christ

 The "Ladies Luncheon" has consistently been a highlight of our Brazil trip every year. We rent out the dining commons at a mall and put on a very special lunch for all the ladies that work in the brothels. It is a very powerful and effective ministry in which the women are treated with dignity and honor, and are introduced to perfect love of Jesus Christ.

Prior to the lunch, Tio Pedro always shares a short message and update about all the Lord is doing through their ministry to the brothels. This year he showed us pictures of some of the women who have given their lives to the Lord, come out of the brothels, and have since gotten married. Their wedding pictures were beautiful, and each of them wore a wonderful white wedding dress. Some people might think that a former prostitute has no business wearing a white wedding dress on her wedding day. After all, white is supposed to symbolize the purity of virginity, something that we know is not true of these women. But their white wedding dress was a picture of a greater spiritual reality - that these women have been washed clean of their past sins and they now stand before God without blemish, free from accusation. As God said through his prophet Isaiah long ago, "Thought your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."

Those women had every right to wear a white wedding dress.