I remember walking toward the first person I’d share the gospel with in El Salvador. How did I feel? Pretty terrified. Brian had suggested that Erin and I go together for the first night out. So the two gringas and our fabulous four translators headed up a walkway toward a young person. I was thinking in my head that I’d go first since I thought Erin might be just as nervous as me and would want me, the older of the two of us, to go first. We were about four feet away when Erin looked at me with such eagerness and enthusiasm that I was stunned. Then she said with complete hope and joy, “Can I go first?”
I was surprised, taken back, overjoyed and told her, “Yes!” I then realized that is what I have spent years praying for. Boldness. I prayed again, “Lord, give me that!” Before we got to our first person, two of the translators pointed out a young teenage boy a few feet away and encouraged me to talk to him. So Erin and I split before I even heard her share the gospel.
Now for some strange reason I assumed the tracks would be in Spanish and English. Low and behold, they were only in Spanish. As I opened up the track I prayed again and tried to remember my Spanish from many years ago. We had gone over the tracks a few weeks before, but I hadn’t looked at it for awhile. That first night was definitely one of leaning on the Holy Spirit to guide me. Which, I know that is exactly where God wants me all of the time; it is just a whole lot easier to be there when I am feeling totally inadequate. That young man’s name is Luis. Please pray for him to have a relationship with Jesus.
Over the course of the night one translator stayed with me. She translated as I shared the gospel nine times that night. Some of the people said they wanted to ask Jesus into their hearts. Others said they weren’t interested. Some said they already believed in Jesus and had made Him Lord of their life. Many people in El Salvador have heard of Jesus. They may have even heard that He died for their sins. But they still believe they have to do good deeds to go to heaven. If you needed good deeds to go to heaven, then that would mean Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t sufficient. I thank God that is is only by faith in Him that we are saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” God does want us to do good things, that is part of the transformation I talked about yesterday. But good things don’t save us. Instead they are evidence of our lives being changed by Him.
Over the course of the week I was able to share the gospel one on one with over 70 people. Some times Rachelle was with me, and some times Erin, but I count those conversations too. That is pretty crazy since I am a quiet person. I am a fearful person. I don’t like to make waves. I don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable. Yet God used me and my weaknesses for His glory. He gave me the boldness to greet complete strangers and ask them a big question that I knew would create awkwardness.
This is what our conversations often looked like. “If you were to die today, do you know if you’d go to heaven?” I then waited for a reply. Often people said no. “May I share with you what the Bible says about going to heaven?” Surprisingly, most people said yes even when they looked completely shocked by my question. “The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that we have ‘all sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. Sin is the bad things we have done. Falling short of the glory of God means that we aren’t perfect, and God is. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that ‘the wages of sin is death’. That means that we deserve eternal separation from God because that is how serious our sin is. I liked when Rachelle pointed out that it only takes one sin to fall short. One lie. One time stealing. But God loves us so much that He has a plan. In Romans 6:23 it also says that we can have “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus is God’s son. He came to this earth and lived a perfect life. When he died on the cross, He took our sins on Himself. Three days later He rose again. Only God could do that. In order to have eternal life in heaven, we have to admit that we are a sinners and repent. Repent means to turn away from our sin and turn to God in faith. We can ask Jesus for forgiveness of our sins because He died on the cross for our sins. Jesus wants to come in and change your life. In Revelations 3:20 the Bible says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.’ That means we can invite Jesus into our lives. We can repent and ask Him to be Lord. Do you want to ask Jesus to come into your life? Do you want to ask Him to forgive you of your sins? Do you want to make Him Lord of your life?” If the person said yes, I’d pray with them. I explained that the words we prayed weren’t magic. What mattered is if they truly were asking for forgiveness and wanting Jesus to come and change their lives. If they said they were already Christians, I’d pray with them encouraging them to read their Bible, pray, and serve Him.
One of awesome things about working with Vida Nueva is that they have a whole team of people that follow up with those who say they want to become Christians. They are contacted within a few days and invited to church. They can join a Bible study and learn what it means to follow Christ. Over the course of a week, Vida Nueva has over 800 people to follow up with. I praise God for the opportunity to go to El Salvador, and that He would would use me, the scared one, for His glory.