Defining Moments: Seasons of Transformation

Connecting with Fellow Travelers

Houston, TX (ANS) – In December of 2003, in an airplane at about 35,000 feet in the air, somewhere over the Sahara Dessert, I had a substantive conversation with a fellow traveler.  It was while participating with a fact-finding delegation in five Sub-Sahara African countries.  The group was made up of physicians, scientists, other medical/water professionals and government officials.  The purpose of the trip was to learn more about issues relating to HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in the region.  During one segment of the trip, a lady asked me the question, “Tell me Jerry, what were some defining moments in your life that brought you to do what you are doing?”

Discovering God’s Activities

That question about defining moments in my life led to about a two hour conversation, and opened the door discussing important spiritual issues in our lives.  After sharing some of those defining moments, I asked her the same question.  That conversation itself turned out to be a defining moment for me, and I’m confident it was for the lady as well.  Those kinds of defining moments can often turn into seasons of transformation.  That experience has stuck with me and continues to influence my thinking and life, even today.  Since that time, I have asked that question, or similar ones, to many other people over the years.  It is an excellent way to discover what God is doing in a particular person’s life.

An Excellent Place for Asking Questions and Telling Stories

Impact of Asking Good Questions

I’m reminded of another conversation I had with a couple of people in Washington, D.C. in 1986.  It was while standing on a street side waiting for a taxi.  During a rain storm a lady shared her umbrella with my friend Brian and me so we wouldn’t get wet.  While waiting, I was able to engage the lady in conversation about spiritual matters.  It turned out that she was very open and interested as I shared the gospel and invited her to receive Christ into her life.  Just a couple of questions I asked her stuck in Brian’s mind and gave him some new ways of sharing the gospel.  Part of that conversation included these questions, “I bet you’ve been thinking more about the Lord lately, haven’t you?”  That question opened the conversation.  Later I asked her, “Can you think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to receive Christ into your life, right now?”

Conversations can Change Lives

A few years ago I reconnected with Brian and he shared how that conversation with the lady under her umbrella that day had changed his life.  He told me how he has consistently used that approach and those questions in sharing the gospel.  On average, he has seen two or three people a week who were willing to pray with him and confess their faith in Christ.  The majority of people are not usually ready to respond.  However, we can have confidence that God will honor His Word as we share it in the power of the Holy Spirit.  If we share God’s Story, His Good News, often enough with enough people, occasionally it will find good soil.  Even if people are not open at a given time, it can still be used by the Holy Spirit.  A man was given a gospel tract at a laundry mat.  He ended up reading it everyday for two weeks, then prayed and called on the Lord for salvation.

Little Things, Big Impact

Divine Appointments and Spiritual Conversations can take place almost Anywhere

The more we are aware of the creative and unlimited ways the Lord can work and how He can use us, the better we’ll be able to join Him in His redemptive activities.  Author DeVern Fromke was someone who  had a significant influence in my life several years ago. One of his many excellent books is, “Seeing God’s Purpose in Everything.”  That is such an important concept if we want to be fruitful in God’s kingdom work.  Another important principle is recognizing how the Lord can use seemingly little things to have big impact.  An example is a homeless man a friend and I met in a park in Washington, D.C. a number of years ago.  He was going through trash cans in the park to find food.  We bought an apple and a hot dog from a street vendor and gave it to him.  We also shared the gospel and prayed with him.

Creative Follow Up

There was not a good way to follow up with the homeless man, so we gave him the name and contact information of a friend, Major James Hipps, with The Salvation Army in the city.  About a year later I reconnected with Major Hipps, and he told me about the homeless man who showed up at their place, and that he was now running one of their mission centers.  It is quite remarkable how God can use one encounter to transform a life and impact many others.  It’s a demonstration of the principles of the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about, the parables of the mustard seed and yeast.  A small seed can produce a large plant, and a small amount of yeast can affect a large lump of dough.

Observation is an Important First Step to Connecting with God’s Redemptive Activities

Creative / Innovative Ideas

On a flight from Nashville to Washington, D.C. a few years ago, I exchanged business cards and had a conversation with an Army officer.  In the conversation, I shared my testimony and the gospel,  Two weeks later I received a letter from the officer telling me that he had become a follower of Jesus.  Another example of the power of sowing the seed of God’s Word.  These days we have limited opportunities for travel, and also limited personal contact with people.  However, there are many creative and innovative ways to connect, have conversations and share the Lord.  Our mission field;  made up of our families, neighbors, co-workers, friends and all other human contacts, can be reached through modern technology.  This earlier ANS article may stimulate your thinking with some ideas in this area:

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