I remember an occasion when I was training prospective student leaders in an aspect of follow-up. Students had come to one of our events and filled out an “interest card,” indicating some further conversation. So for a few nights, I took 2-3 students with me and we went to visit the interested students where they lived. In as many cases as possible, I called or emailed ahead and tried to set up an appointment, so as to increase our chances of meeting with someone.
One night we had several great conversations with students, each of whom shared some of their spiritual journey and said they wanted to increase their knowledge and experience of Jesus and His people. Yet we had two “divine appointments” over a few nights, situations where God seemingly arranged circumstances for us to walk into.
One was when we walked into a dorm, took the stairs to the 3rd floor and as we exited into the hallway, we were trying to determine which way to go. A female student sitting a few feet away asked, “Can I help you?” I answered, “If you became a Christian tonight, that would really help you and me.” She replied, “That’s a curious response. I was thinking of taking my life, but said out loud last night that if there was a god, he/she/it better send someone my way tonight!” Needless to say, we sat down and talked for 2 hours about her questions and pain, and who Jesus was. She started attending a Bible study and weeks later decided to start following Jesus as Lord.
The second occurred when a few guys and I were exiting a dorm two days later. We heard crying from the rear of stairwell and asked who was there and if they needed assistance. A large man appeared and I recognized him as a varsity football player. Ted recognized me and as I reached out my hand to shake his, he grabbed me and start holding me as his sobs increased. Moments later he started unpacking a story of a close friend who recently took his life. In his shock, he prayed, “God, please come from heaven and put your arms around me and help me.” Hours later, he was crying in the stairwell when I asked who was there and if they needed help.
He wanted God, but got me. I put my arms around him and said, “Everything was going to be all right.” God knew Ted needed a man with real arms of love and a real voice giving true, wise, and encouraging words. It took months of care, prayer, and support from family, friends, and a Christian counselor to help Ted get through this crisis. And with God’s help (and ours), he did.
Read Romans 12:4-21.
All of us who surrounded Ted became the arms, legs, hands, and voice of God. It was a lesson in real time about the truth of Paul’s words to the Roman Christians to “be the body of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 12:27).
Think hard. Many students and professors plead for God to come help, comfort, and be with them. While Jesus is the risen Lord, He has chosen to work in and through us, His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit to “be Jesus” to anyone our lives come into contact with. Our words and actions are to be the words and actions of our Lord. Remember WWJD?
Live communally. People want proof that God is real, accessible, and willing to hear and respond to their needs and pain. As a member of God’s body, how have you responded to their needs? What gift(s) will you share? You and I may be the only Jesus they will ever see.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz