Every week, we share stories about the amazing ways God is at work around the world. We hope that you’ll be encouraged by these stories and inspired to greater involvement in God’s Great Commission to go out to the world – near and far – and train, instruct, and baptize people in Jesus’ Name. This week, we start off by hearing from Bob, who has had quite a story of personal transformation and uses that story as his testimony in Venezuela:
Three and a half years ago, I was worshipping the devil, going to Satanic rituals, basically doing everything humanly possible to be against the work of God. Meanwhile, my wife was regularly going on walks with some of our neighbors, and met a lady who was hosting a women’s Bible study and was interested in attending.
My first words to her were, “If I see any of that stuff in my house, we’re getting divorced. You’re gone. I don’t want to hear it. If you want to do it, do it, but keep it out of my house!”
Well, without me knowing, they all began to pray for me. My wife asked if she could bring our kids to church on Sunday – this was around Christmastime. I didn’t care. She could do whatever she wanted, but I was staying home.
That’s when my son looked at me and said, “Why do I have to go if Dad doesn’t have to go?”
I love my kids and I realized that that wasn’t very fair, plus I wanted to find out what “nonsense” my kids were going to be exposed to, so I went.
The second that I sat down there, I felt as though Jesus was talking directly to me. I instantly knew that I was going in the wrong direction.
So, now flash-forward several years and I just got back from my second missions trip for the Lord.
I went to Costa Rica last year and afterward, I swore I’d never do anything like that again. I was stretched so far out of my comfort zone and afraid. I mean, how could God use someone like me, after all the things I had done: mocking Jesus, worshipping Satan… how could He use me? I was done.
Then, a year later, I heard an announcement that there was a group going to Venezuela. I was adamant that I was not going to go. Then I heard a sermon that very week about going out to the world and share the Gospel with people. That week, I got into my car and turned on my daily devotion, as I typically do, and it’s about “You need to go… and you need to go NOW!” Talk about knowing that Jesus was talking directly to you!
So, I signed up that week.
But the preparation for Venezuela was so different than what I had experienced for Costa Rica. First of all, our team was so small and we were stretched so thin that God was able to use each of us in amazing new ways.
For instance, the teammate that I was paired with was in a different area, but God used her to set up this man who was into voodoo. To get to him, we had to cross over a mosquito-infested lake, his village was all chained off, and it sat right below an oil refinery. So, he was basically pushed off into a corner of the world where nobody cared about him anymore.
My teammate came to me the next day and said, “Bob, you need to come out and talk to this guy!”
So, I made my way through the murk to get to him and shared with him my story about how God has made Himself real in my life, and he connected with my story. When I saw the look on his face, I was blown away – I had never seen anything like it before. Almost immediately, he wouldn’t let go of my hands, he was in tears. We found out that he was like the peacemaker of his village and pretty much controlled everything. So, he introduced us to a girl who was being tormented by a demon – which was right up my alley from what I was doing before I came to Jesus.
It was almost as if, for 36 years, God had been training me to do the wrong thing so that I could do the right thing in this village.
In actuality, as Joseph said to his brothers, “…what you intended for evil, God meant it for good in order to bring about the salvation of many people.”
You see, I had never thought that I would ever be good enough to serve God. But it turned out that that very humility is what helped prepare me to actually be used by God.
Then, there was another area where they were begging for us to come over. The guy who was driving us around had to borrow a car in order to get us to all the places where we were being called to go – most of them over an hour away. So, we drove out to this one house where almost everyone in the home were already Christians, but this one guy who wanted nothing to do with it. It turned out that he was a mechanic – just like me – and was stubborn – just like me.
As I shared my story with him, he stopped me and said, “I haven’t told this to anybody, but three weeks ago, I had a dream. I woke up and Jesus was at my feet saying, ‘Listen to the Word of God’. He said it three times. Then, three weeks later, you guys show up!”
It was amazing!
Two days later, we met two different girls at two different parts of the city who both happened to be this guy’s daughters! They weren’t Christians, but after we shared the Gospel with them, they both came to Christ as well!
It was absolutely amazing to see how God could use the most unworthy of people like me to spread His word!
None of us are worthy to be involved in the Lord’s work among the nations – none of us. The Bible is very clear: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If it were up to us, none of us would ever go. But it isn’t up to us. Bob listened to the call. He was determined not to go to Venezuela, but the pastor’s sermon and his devotional were used by God to speak to Bob and that’s all he needed. He simply needed to humbly follow God’s direction and allow God to use him to spread the Gospel!
Next, we hear from Debbie, a Christian from a Jewish background who went to Israel to share the Gospel:
I grew up in a Jewish home, yet I had lots of surprises while on my trip to Israel. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to say “Jesus”, because I was taught that His name shouldn’t be brought up and I thought other Jews felt the same. But actually, in Tel Aviv, the Jews there, themselves talked about Jesus freely.
I was also surprised that I would be able to use my testimony. I had thought that usually, Jewish people don’t want to hear from a former Jew who had converted to Christianity. I thought that they actually felt sorry for those like me.
I thought it was going to be a terribly tough trip. But, in hindsight, we felt like we planted several seeds in the minds and hearts of the people we met.
One story that stood out took place on the first day we were there. We went out in pairs: one man and one woman, talking to people out on the street or sitting on benches at parks or wherever we could meet people.
We approached this one man and asked if he would be willing to take part in our survey about spirituality in Israel. We learned right off the bat that he was an atheist from France, visiting for only three days. He said that his life at the time was miserable, and the only thing that kept him from taking his own life was that he didn’t have the courage to do so. He saw no justice in the world, no hope… no God.
So, we talked with him for close to an hour. At the beginning of the conversation, he gazed out at the ocean – not even looking at us. But, by the end of our conversation, he was engaged and we were able to share with him the enormity of God’s love. We put it simply: God loves you so much that He brought you here today all the way from France and brought us here today all the way from the U.S. just so that we could talk to one another about how much He loves us!
As we parted, he thanked us. We exchanged hugs and kisses. He allowed us to pray for him and he told us about a friend he had back home who is a Christian and who could go through the Bible with him.
That one discussion alone made the whole trip worthwhile!