“Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Bobby attended the Young Adult Bible Study each Tuesday in the home of our members, Janet and Ian. For months he faithfully shared with the group his mom Paola’s need for Christ. He had a vibrant relationship with the Lord and wanted his mom to know that incredible joy as well. Week after week his friends at the study faithfully interceded on Paola’s behalf, and eventually she agreed to join Bobby in attending our worship service.
Marcy was committed to her small group on Wednesday nights and invested in the women seated at her table like a mother hen intent on encouraging her brood to fall in love with Jesus more each day. Paola ended up at Marcy’s table one week. As together the women studied his Word, prayed, and cared for each other, Paola stuck around.
For four months Debbie worked tirelessly, organizing and overseeing the endless details for the women’s retreat at our church. She corralled a team to strategize, pray, and use their gifts to make the event spectacular. On the morning of the retreat, one of the team arrived early, placed her purse on one of the 150 empty chairs, and turned her attention to finalizing some of the necessary tasks. Two hours later she returned and met the lady sitting in the seat beside hers. It was Paola.
Debbie’s friend struck up a conversation with Paola and quickly figured out that she needed the gospel. While the hundred women in attendance were excitedly waiting for the retreat to start, she began to share the great news with Paola using the outline she had recently picked up from Pastor Francois’ discipling lesson. Within a few minutes, Paola’s face brightened as if a lightbulb had suddenly been flicked on. Did she want to pray to receive Christ? Did she want to trust him as her Savior? This precious woman gave her life over to Jesus before the retreat even officially began!
The following day, Paola sat in church beside her new friend and walked forward at the end of the service. Karen met her at the altar, asked her compelling questions and shared life-giving counsel. As Karen prayed with her, Paola’s face brightened even further and her smile grew wide as she confessed her life-changing decision from the day before.
The following Sunday the church family gathered to celebrate at an International Dinner. Carl had shared in the service that morning about the upcoming beach baptism. Paola decided baptism should be her next step of obedience. On an early Saturday morning, Pastor Bill talked with Paola as the Atlantic Ocean swirled around and the waves splashed across the sand. He had the privilege of baptizing her as she declared her commitment to Christ publicly.
God uses each of us as part of his eternal plan to draw others into his kingdom, reconciling them to himself. We get to participate in his glorious work as members of his body. Some of us till the soil and prepare it for others who come along to plant the seed of his Word. Some are part of the harvesting. All of us are vital to the work of the gospel. The angels rejoice in heaven when one soul turns to the Lord, and we get to be part of the grand celebration here on earth.
Elizabeth A Mitchell