“What in the world? How did you know?”
(This is a Gideon Bible story.)
In the years that I was at Boylston Home, 69 girls came through the doors. (I will never use the real name of any girl unless she has given me permission to do so.) Regardless of whether they were there for 24 hours, or several years we had a few non-negotiable principles that we shared with them. Some of those principles we taught were … they were valuable, …. they could take care of themselves, do laundry, dress, basic house cleaning, treat others with kindness and dignity, etc. and … their past did not have to define their future.
The most important thing we did, however, was to put a Bible in the hands of every girl who came into the home. We shared the truth of the Gospel with them using that Bible, knowing full well that it was entirely up to them what they did with that information. Some chose to believe immediately, some chose to wait and think about it and then believed, and some chose not to believe, at least not in the time when they were with us. Our responsibility was not to force a response, it was simply to tell them the truth from the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit() do His work in their hearts. “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest… “Hebrews 4:1 – 3 NASB (E-sword)
How God absolutely prepared a heart to hear the truth never ceased to amaze me!
We had a girl come to us in her mid-teens. She had quite a painful story that we would learn in the time that she stayed with us. In the first week of her being with us, I sat down with her with a Bible and started to tell her the basic truth of how to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. I took her through the “Romans Road” with which many of us are familiar.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I told her that we are all sinners who need a Savior. She readily admitted she was a sinner. I told her that sin had separated us from God.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commended (showed) His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
I showed her how these verses clearly demonstrated that even though we are sinners, God loved us enough that Jesus came and died for our sins.
Then I took her to Romans 10:9-10 and 13, “That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness but with the mouth confession is made known unto salvation….Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
I told her how genuine Christian faith requires stating with your mouth that you believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for your sins and that He rose again to demonstrate He had the power over death and hell too.
I asked her if she had any questions. She told me she was very interested, but she wasn’t grasping it yet. At that point, I quietly prayed to the Lord in my mind and asked Him if there was another verse I needed to show her that would help? He immediately brought this verse to my memory. (I had been to a Bible study a week before where they had talked about using this verse when you share the gospel with someone, so it was still fresh on my mind.)
John 5:24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes on Him who sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death to life.”
When the girls were old enough, and could,I always put the Bible in front of them and let them read it out loud or to themselves, because it tended to help them take more ownership for what they were reading. She started to read this verse and then stopped with a gasp. She looked at me with an incredulous face and looked back at the verse and then looked at me again and then shook her head and then kept exclaiming, “Wait! How in the world did you know? I can’t believe this! This is amazing! What? How did you know? I don’t get this? Unbelievable!”
I was, of course, completely surprised and had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked, “can you explain yourself? What’s happening here?”
Still shaking her head and glancing back and forth between me and those words she proceeded to tell me this story.
“Miss Ruth, you already know that my dad kidnapped us kids from my mom and that he had us on the run from the police all over the United States. We’ve lived in abandoned cars. We’ve slept on the side of the road or in the woods. He abused us, and we’ve stayed in cheap hotels. Often, when we were in those hotels, he would go off on a drinking binge. I, being the oldest, was left behind to take care of my three younger siblings. I got pretty bored of watching the same dumb stuff on TV so once my siblings went to sleep, I would pull the Bible out of the drawer. Did you know they have these Bibles in hotel rooms with the word Gideon on the front of them?”
I told her I did because I have friends who work for The Gideons and my parents encouraged us to support Gideon Ministries years ago.
“Well,” she continued, “I would pull that Bible out of the drawer and try to read it and I kept coming to this verse…This one you just showed me… I still can’t believe you knew!! How did you know?? I never understood what it meant, but I wanted to! I even talked to my mom about it when we were reunited.”
I, marveling at the Divine leading of God, asked her “do you understand now?”
“YES!” she declared, “and I can’t wait to go back and tell mom all of this and what this really means!”
I felt like Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29cf.) All I did was teach her some basic principles from God’s Word and He had her heart prepared to trust the truth of the Gospel ahead of time because of what she had read before she ever met me.
Love how God works!