Every now and then, he would come to our Christian campus organization, but he would be polite but he was practicing in his Jewish faith.
But on this day, he tells me,
Chris, I want to thank you. It’s because of you that I’m a Christian.
This was a surprise to me. I had never talked with him about anything related to faith other than the casual conversation about our heritage.
Seeing the puzzled look in my face, he continues,
“Chris, do you remember three years ago when you were praying in the chapel?”
A memory rose to the surface.
Our ministry hosted prayer vigil in the campus chapel, a giant 3-story Gothic building with the stained glass windows. It was a 24-hour prayer vigil. I had the 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift since nobody else signed for it.
Praying out loud while alone
To help me stay awake I got pretty loud in my prayer style.
I walked the sanctuary all by myself.
I prayed in a manner that is rather unusual for me: Shouting, walking, and being a little excessively exuberant.
Normally I pray quietly. Sometimes I don’t even pray out loud. For me to be exuberant and shouting and hollering and just carrying on was the fruit of being alone, by myself, in this giant church building.
A secret visitor
Unknown to me, this young Jewish man has sneaked in the back door. He remained out of sight, eavesdropping.
At 2:00 in the morning, he had a sense of restlessness in his heart that
- got him out of his room,
- propelled him to walk to the chapel and
- Sat in the shadows
I didn’t know that he was there.
I’m praying with passion. I’m looking down at the floor, then the ceiling, walking and praying,
“Lord, you know, you have a love for the people in this campus, and I’m praying that you would use us to reach them. Bless the Baptist student ministry and bless the university ministry and bless the Catholic ministry and help the Presbyterians and help everybody who are just trying to reach people for Jesus, and….
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for…”
It was an intense prayer, maybe assisted by a little boost of caffeine from the soda I had.
But in the back corner of the chapel, in the dark, sat this young Jewish man with a restlessness in his heart, observing a Christian who had a relationship with God.
A seed is nurtured
God used that moment to speak to that young man in the back corner of the chapel and that increased within him a desire to know this God.
He was doing rituals as part of his faith, but it was missing a vitality to it. That restlessness started him on a journey where he was secretly asking other people,
- Who is Jesus?
- What did Jesus do?
- Why do I have this yearning for God?
I don’t know what all the questions were.
The end result of being in the chapel at 2:00 in the morning listening to me:
Within the next two/three years, he surrendered his life to Christ and is now walking in faith and following Jesus.
God takes the seed and gives the increase
God is the one who is writing the story.
We may not know all the parts in which we play.
I didn’t know the part I played until that man came back to me and told me.