Monday, March 18, 2013
by Paul Barton
Could geography and culture play a role in what it means to be a Christian?
While building a Home of Hope in Jamaica, I got to talking with Beres (pictured above). He is a 72 year old Jamaican National. I asked him if he was a Christian. He said, "no, I am a true believer." I asked what he meant by that. Beres said that he truly believes in and strives to follow Christ. "Isn't that what a Christian is," I thought. Beres went on to tell me that Christians act one way at church and act another way outside of church. This is why he chooses to call himself a true believer. We also talked about being able to hear from God, and he said he does hear from God. But then he said he didn't need the bible because he hears directly from God. I then asked how he knew he was hearing from God? I said God speaks to us I know, but so does the enemy (the father of lies). The bible helps us know if we are hearing from God or the enemy. As we talked more I started to get the impression he may not be able to read. I then wondered if God speaks differently to those who can't read, if we can't read his word, but believe in His Word. Is it possible that Beres hears more clearly?
We then started talking about sins. He said you need to be cleansed of your sins to get to heaven. We talked more about the cleansing blood of Jesus and what He did on the Cross. So I then asked him if he were to die tonight would he go to heaven or hell? He said heaven because he believed; he was a "true believer." I then asked him if he sinned and didn't have time to ask for forgiveness from God or the person he sinned against and suddenly died, would he go to heaven or hell? He looked at me and didn't know what to say. He didn't know. I then explained we can know for sure if we believe in Jesus. He paid our penalty once and for all for our sins. Once we believe and turn from our sin, we are Justified and have a place in heaven. He thanked me and I was able to pray with him. I believe Beres is a True believing Christian.
I also had a chance to talk with Beverly (the Home of Hope recipient). She told us on the first day that she was not yet a Christian, but thought someday she would be one. We had been exchanging small talk and she told me she went to church on a regular basis. I said "I thought you weren't a Christian?" We talked more and she said she did believe in Jesus and the Gospel. I was baffled. Is Beverly an unbelieving believer? What is holding her back if she says she believes? Is it legalism? So then I shared about the Grace of God and how we can't do it on our own. I was then reminded of the parable of the sower of seeds in Mark 4, where the soil was the condition of our heart and the seed is the word of God. What was the condition of Beverly's soil(heart)? Only God and Beverly know for sure. I prayed with Beverly for her to know and understand the Love of Jesus, to be a Believer or like Beres said, a True Believer. That she could receive grace, and allow Jesus to meet her where she is at now. It was a great honor and privilege to help provide shelter for her and her family. I know they were grateful. I just hope she sees this as God pursuing her. Watch a clip of her daughter, who has a rainbow shine upon her as she sings.