1 in 10,000 to 2 in 10,300

Throughout this summer, we have been placing tracts in mailboxes in our town. Up until yesterday, we had distributed about 10,000 tracts. From those thousands of tracts, we had received one response. An elderly lady named Maria contacted us with questions. She had recently moved to our town and was looking for a church.

Sarah and I met with her at a café and listened to her story. She is from a Pentecostal background, but she didn’t like any of the Pentecostal churches she had visited in our town. Last Friday, she came to our Bible study and seemed to enjoy it. We will see what happens in the future with her.

On Tuesday I took Laura with me to pass out some more tracts. Walking from house to house, I thought about the statistical value of what I was doing – 1 response for 10,000 tracts. Not exactly the best of odds. After an hour and half, Laura was tired and so I decided to head home. As I put her in her car seat I thought, “Well, now we are up to 10,300.”

That very evening I received an e-mail from a man who received one of our tracts. He wanted to know where we met and had services. I promptly replied, gave him the information he requested, and asked if he would like to meet with me. The next morning, I received an e-mail back from him: “Yes, I would like to meet with you. How about tonight?”

That evening for almost two hours I walked and talked with Luis. Here were some of his questions:

Do you have to be baptized to be saved?

What is required for a person to be saved?

What distinguishes your beliefs from other churches?

How do you interpret Genesis and Revelation? Are they literal?

What does it mean to love God?

From our conversation, I gathered that he was a man who was searching for answers and who already knew a lot about the Bible. As we said goodbye and made plans to meet again, he remarked, “I know it wasn’t a coincidence that I received your pamphlet in the mail and that I met you.”

I agree.

8th time’s the charm

I look at my calendar and roll my eyes. I have written and scratched through my friend’s name all over August and September. The first week, I met with her at a café, and she said she agreed to do a Bible study with me. I ecstatically wrote her name for the next Wednesday, only to have her cancel because she forgot it was a holiday. (“What holiday?” I asked. The day Mary rose into heaven, of course. Silly me. How could I forget and schedule a Bible study on the day that commemorates something that never happened?)

We rescheduled for the next Wednesday. David and I arranged our day so he could watch Laura during the Bible study. Then came the text message. She had to stay late at work. Could we try the next Wednesday?

Sure. But that day there was another conflict with her work. Could we meet the very next night? There would be no conflict that night.

Sure. David and I rearranged our schedules again. That afternoon I got another text message. She had surprise guests for dinner. How about the next day? She would be there FOR SURE!!!!!

OK. That day, I got an e-mail. Something came up. Not sure what. She would call me the next day.

No call. No Bible study. We’d tried 5 times. Was I doing something wrong? Should I keep trying? I knew the culture here tends to say yes and then cancel at the last minute, but I felt like I was banging my head against a wall.

I called her again. We scheduled for the next Wednesday . . . which she cancelled . . . and Thursday . . . which she cancelled . . . and Friday . . . .

It was Friday afternoon. She hadn’t cancelled. Was my phone not working? I checked my e-mail again. Had she forgotten to cancel? Or did I dare hope?

I drove to her house and rang her doorbell. When she came through the door, I told her I felt like Thomas, and I HAD to touch her hand to see if it was her in the flesh. We laughed, talked about life, and looked at the Bible. My heart aches to see her and her family saved.

Lord, give the people of Portugal a heart for you, and help them make you the priority in their lives. Give me wisdom for how to reach people and the persistence to keep trying, even if it takes 8 tries to meet with them once.