Winning Souls is…not Easy!

My older sister, she comes to the room while I was trying to write. She is always welcome. She rarely comes to visit from the province and I have learned that these special times can be used to slowly, gradually share the Gospel. She lies down on the bed in front of me. She asks if she could bring home the boxes of books that she found in the guest room. She is talking about the “religion” books that I ordered years ago from the printing press whose owner is a Christian and a friend. I had planned on giving them away to poor schools in the far-flung barangays in the province. I was particularly thinking about UNICEF’s day care centers.

(image from Google)

But I tell her now that she can’t give away the books yet as I need to browse them for Gospel truth. I don’t want to give away books that teach false doctrine or half-truths. And thus, our discussion of the truth begins.

I tell her about the doctrine of our Church, the doctrine of the early apostles. I explain to her that there is only one God in three manifestations. That you cannot count God, as three persons, like you can imagine them standing side-by-side, all three. No. There is only ONE true God. And His name is Jesus Christ.

“I know from the depths of my heart that this is the truth. I have known it without someone telling me,” she answers with certainty in her voice.

“The Holy Spirit has revealed this to you,” I tell her.

I begin to discuss Acts 2:38 and the role of the Holy Spirit, then she butts in, “You know what, I have stopped going to church because when I see T and E singing in the choir, I just can’t take it. I just can’t take their hypocrisy and it really makes me angry just by looking at them. Then, I see Manang* L in her agony, crying to mother helplessly. So, why would I go to church if I will sin anyway?”

Just like that, my sister drops the bombshell without any warning. She does it matter-of-factly, but still with conviction. I am quiet as I take it all in. She’s talking about other people’s lives, our mother’s friends. I don’t want to be lured into gossiping, so, I don’t pursue it, but instead, discuss verses about receiving the Holy Spirit and walking in Him, and not in the flesh.

Her eyes are fixed on mine. She’s understanding all these. The Holy Spirit is at work. Oh Lord, let there be fruit of this little Bible Study! 

I can see she’s at peace listening to me. The times she’s quiet, she’s absorbing all these. How can she not not believe the Word? Oh, I am so relying on God’s Word and the Spirit to work powerfully in her!

The people she mentioned, I know them so well. They, together with my mother and sister, they all go to the same Catholic Church in our small town. Scandals have never been absent in that church. Ever since I was little, scandal after scandal has wracked it, and in the churches of the neighboring towns, too. I wonder why such a church still exists when it does not glorify God at all? But the Lord, He knows them so well.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. (Matt. 23:27)

These people so need salvation, too.

I tell my sister, my voice low and gentle (these are delicate matters), “Even when you don’t attend your church because you believe you’re sinning, you’re losing nothing.”

Her eyes are fixed on me again as I think she’s absorbing what I just said.

 …I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews [or Christians] and are not, but are a synagogue [or church] of Satan. (Rev. 2:9, annotations mine)

Why would you go to the synagogue [church] of Satan?

It’s not easy to win souls, for we are warring “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12), and pulling down the strongholds of Satan (2 Cor. 10:4).

I read some more verses and discuss some more. Then I look her straight in the eye and implore her to receive her salvation. She drops her gaze and says, “How about J? At the height of his nervous breakdown, he accepted baptism in water in the name of Jesus, and yet, he has become worse? He shouts at his wife and talks unkindly to her. He didn’t change at all.”

He’s talking about our cousin who accepted water baptism in our Church’s (Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry) outreach next to our town. What happened there was, he only wanted to receive healing from the Lord but there was no sincere, godly repentance. There was no surrendering of his life. After baptism, he never went back to church to serve God in spirit and in truth. I read and discuss verses that deal on this subject.

“I don’t want what happened to J happen to me. He wasn’t nourished by the Word of God like what you’re doing to me now. You explain these things so clearly. Maybe if the truth is discussed this way… ” she says quietly.

“I understand. And I’m thankful to the Lord that you want to be ready and not be rash without understanding God’s Gospel of salvation. In His perfect time, He will move in you. He will prepare your heart. And I will wait for that time. For I can only share to you the Gospel, but God will be the one to work powerfully in you. And He will. In the meantime, I thank Him for giving you wisdom.”

I touch the top of her head and gently caress her hair, “You will be blessed for listening to me today. Yes, you will be blessed, not only by my words, but with the things that you need.”

“Thank you,” she answers solemnly.

*Address for an older woman.

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Journey with Jesus,

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