Have you ever had the blessing of someone saying to you, "I want to talk to you! I want to change my life"?
Last year I met an energetic young woman at a Cursillo based 72 hour Great Banquet retreat. She was one of the first new friends I made that weekend. Her brother had attended a similar weekend just the week before, met Jesus and told her she had to go. She and his girlfriend came, not knowing anyone else and very unsure of what to expect. We randomly ended up doing a two person activity together that asks you to introduce one another to the group and share a little known fact. Her's was that she can make amazing hair braids. Mine was that I was wearing my cowboy boots barefoot. We connected.
The retreat includes three days of 5 talks helping people learn about the Christian life. At the close of day one, when I had spoken about responding to God's grace, she came up to me just before bedtime. "I want to talk to you! I want to change my life". Takia, I asked, are you telling me that you want to follow Jesus? "Yes", she answered, "but I don't know anything."
I began to share the verses from Romans that we had practiced in our Salt & Light meetings. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (3:23-24). "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". (5:8). "For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". (6:23). "Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame." (10:9-11). As we talked she nodded while I asked if she had questions, believed or understood the verses. Is there any reason why you cannot decide now to dedicate your life to Jesus?, I asked Takia. She said "no". So, then, are you ready to pray and tell Him so? "Are you going to help me?", she asked. No, I answered. You just tell Him yourself. Takia prayed, "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. Thank you for Mrs. Kathy teaching me all of this. I want to follow you. I love you". That was pretty much it. She was very happy and so was I. There is nothing like sitting with someone who gets born again. There was much rejoicing at the retreat and in heaven over this new soul's arrival into the Kingdom of God. I asked Takia if she had ever been baptized and she said no. Well, we can do something about that soon, I told her.
Takia, her brother, his best friend, his girlfriend, some friends and cousins, plus a few other ladies who were on that weekend retreat ended up coming to our church. Eventually we saw about 12 new believer baptisms in our church. They came regularly for a few months. We did not successfully draw them into a small group Bible study. I was concerned when we stopped seeing them. Phone numbers did not work. Emails were not answered. They were gone. We prayed for our new believers who we were not finding the opportunity to disciple. Chris and I moved away but continued to pray. Prayed that God would keep His hand on her life; prayed that she might contact someone from our church or any church; prayed for all the ones who were baptized at our church. One day this summer I received a text with the image posted above (fancy hair braids). The text said "Do you know anyone who can do this"? TAKIA, I replied. Now I'm in Texas and she is in Tennessee, but God allowed me to let her know how much I have prayed for her, love her and missed her. She sent the following a couple of weeks ago:
"I thank God so much for putting You and the great banquet in my life . I wouldn't know where I would be if I didn't attend it . Once again THANK YOU & I miss you so much 💜 " Takia also sent this picture of her with her brother, Cameron. Love them!
This story is a reminder of the sower and how delicate the new believer's life in Christ is. A decision to follow Jesus is only the very start. Pray that people of peace who come will find many disciple makers to keep them on the path and not let them drift away. It is why we are told that 'the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few'. ( Matthew 9:37) Jesus promised 'no one will snatch them from my hand'. (John 10:28). Let's get busy fellow laborers!