God gave me the story and I watched it work

Every once in awhile, we get to glimpse the precious intersection of the kingdom of God and the near frontier. What do I mean? You know how the Bible says that unless a person becomes as a child he cannot enter the kingdom of God? I saw that happen.  I saw the Word of God and a true story of our compelling Savior win its way into the hearts of a group of Sikhs who had come to learn how to pass the exam for U.S. citizenship.

bob w immig class

It happened something like this…

I wrote previously about how my friend Wilson asked me to play the role of examiner for the citizenship exam. When that part of the morning concluded, Wilson explained to the group that I was actually a pastor (well, was once) and that I would now be sharing something from the Bible. They were accustomed to this because they regularly practice English using the Bible. As the words left Wilson’s mouth, I shot a prayer upward and a story instantly popped into my mind. I took a deep breath and began…

“I think you all know that Jesus was Jewish. The Jews were upper class people in the region, and they would deliberately avoid the area occupied by a group they considered below them, called the Samaritans.”

As Wilson translated into the Hindi language, I explained that the day in Samaria was hot…that the disciples went into the village, leaving Jesus alone at a historic well…. that a lone woman came to draw water… that he asked her for help (water to drink)…that she wondered why he, a Jew, a male, and a rabbi at that, would even speak to her.

By this time, I see that this story had captured their attention, and that if I stopped they would feel gypped. Heartened, I pressed on:

“Jesus was appreciative of the water, but He said something to the woman that was very curious. He said that this pure water would satisfy for a few hours, but that she would be thirsty again the next day. But there is a living water that satisfies forever. The woman was curious and asked where she could get this water.”

I told them about the five husbands that Jesus knew about… and that she marveled that He knew about her past even though he was a stranger.

Now I was a missionary to Africa, and I have never told a Bible story to a person from India. So at this point in the story, I know I am getting into some heavier themes. Mentally, I’m deciding what to do, and I figure the worst that could happen would be the drawing of a couple hidden daggers. Okay, I’m exaggerating there. But I do wonder, as I move deeper into the story, how they will take it.

I am so glad I didn’t quit…

“The woman informed the holy man Jesus that the Samaritans had this historic well, and they had a mountain set aside for worship. And Jesus added that the Jews also have their holy places for worship. But, Jesus said, anyone who wants to worship the one true God must worship in their heart, for true worship is not external but personal, in our heart.”

Jesus’ winsomeness combined with His authority seemed to blossom as I wrapped up the story. I said that the woman at the well affirmed her belief that the messiah was coming some day, and would explain all these things to them. And Jesus’ disclosure to the woman also widened the eyes of my listeners,

“I who speak to you am He.”

I wrapped up by telling about the large number of villagers who trusted this Messiah. Then Wilson spoke to them in Hindi with words that showed great wisdom:

“All religions are good. They help people to know how to live to bless others. But only one religion forgives all of our sins. Only one gets us all the way over to heaven and keeps us there forever, so that we don’t have to come back as a dog or pig. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by Me'”(John 14:6).

We concluded the class. Took a picture. Shook hands with smiles on our faces. And I felt that the story of God’s unique love was heard and valued. One man, as he left, said to me, “I have that story in my heart,” and padded his chest softly as if to safe-keep a treasure.

Without a doubt, the experience was a treasure to me. Sharing our faith stirs our own heart to worship. It awakens childlike faith in others. This encounter happened in my home town. I wonder what adventures await in yours?


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