By Rev. Fred Bates, Jr.
It was only a three-block walk. The walk from my office at a banking institution to a hospital called Charity, located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, was only three blocks. The three-block walk, however, was out of “my way” and off “my scheduled routine.”
My scheduled routine was to finish work, tidy the office, and head straight home. This day was different. This day I had discerned the leading of the Holy Spirit to change my routine, make the three-block walk to the hospital room of a childhood friend for one specific reason. The assignment from the Holy Spirit was to urge my friend to turn. Turn and be reconciled to God.
This Spirit-led assignment reminds me of Phillip the evangelist. Phillip was doing God’s business of preaching the Good News in Samaria. Successful ministry was taking place, but God chose to interrupt the routine of ministry to send Phillip to a specific place, at a specific time, to meet a specific person. “’The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.”’ (Acts 8:29)
God calls us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ on the highways and byways of the world, but sometimes there are divine assignments seemingly given to us to share the Good News with someone specifically. We should pray to be sensitive enough to God to be ready to share this life-changing message even when it is “out of our way” or “off our scheduled routine.”
I learned that day – and continue to pray for a discerning heart to:
Learn to listen “for” God in evangelism
Learn to listen “to” God in evangelism
And to “obey” the prompting of the Holy Spirit in evangelism
In the text, we notice that Phillip was returned to his “regular” business of preaching the Good News as “Philip found himself in Azotus. He traveled through that area, preaching the good news in all the cities until he reached Caesarea. (Acts 8:40)
The sun had already set. The streets were emptying as the daily commuters made their way home. For me, the walk was brief, uncertain, and yet determined because I believed I had been led by the Holy Spirit to bring this message of hope to my childhood friend. After entering the hospital room, my friend greeted me enthusiastically. After we spoke about their deteriorating medical condition, I began to urge, both humbly and compassionately, urge my friend to “be reconciled to God.”
My friend thanked me for coming and then confirmed my uncertainty by shocking my spiritual sensibilities. They kindly declined my invitation, declined my urging. They declined by stating, “I am not ready to Give my life to God because I have too much to do, to many oats to sow.”
We didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time we spoke. My childhood friend passed away less than two weeks after our meeting. Did my friend’s mind change? Was there a reconciliation with God? I do not know. I do know, however, that in God’s mercy, God sent me on an off-scheduled journey – a three block walk to a specific place, at a specific time, to urge a childhood friend to be reconciled to God.
February 19th, 2021 – Waco, TX – 9:00-3:30
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