Over the past couple of years, I have met to have coffee with an older man named Horacio. He is a very religious person who has explored all sorts of different beliefs. He reads his Bible and prays every day, but in talking with him, I got the sense that he did not understand the gospel clearly.
About a year ago, he came to me after church and asked to be baptized. At the time, I wasn’t even sure if he was saved, so we scheduled a time to go for coffee and talk about it. But, before we met he e-mailed me to say that he wasn’t ready to be baptized after all. He felt he could not break ties with the Catholic church.
At least nine months went by, and I didn’t see Horacio again. Then, unexpectedly, he showed up for church two weeks ago. After the service, he came up to me again to ask if we could meet and talk about baptism. I agreed, and we scheduled another time to meet.
Now, it is important to know that most of the conversations I have had with Horacio have been very eclectic, and I have been the one doing most of the listening. He would talk about everything from monastic orders to Tai Chi to the history of our town. They were always interesting conversations, but I never felt like I got far with him spiritually.
Today would be different, however. He wanted to get baptized, and I reasoned that if he wanted to get baptized, he would have to get saved first. Today I would be the one doing the talking. After catching up on some small talk, I began to explain the Biblical reasons for baptism and how it was an act of obedience that followed salvation. Despite my efforts, I felt like it just wasn’t clicking in his mind. At one point, when I was talking about the symbolism of baptism, Horacio began describing the similarities of baptism to the initiation rituals of the Templar Knights. This was not the direction I was hoping the conversation would go. After an hour and a half, I gave Horacio a book that explained the gospel and told him that I looked forward to seeing him at church on Sunday.
From there, I went home for lunch. When Sarah asked how my time went, I exclaimed with some frustration and resignation that I felt like I couldn’t get him to understand what Biblical salvation really was.
Church on Sunday came and went, and Horacio didn’t show up. But just before I went to bed, I got a message from him. He stated that some family had come into town and that he hadn’t been able to leave them to go to church. But then he wrote, “Even though I wasn’t able to come to church, all is not lost. I have read the book you gave me, and I now understand what it means to truly be born again.”
On Wednesday, I met with Horacio again. He showed me the book I had given him. It was filled with notes and passages that he had highlighted. As we talked, I could see a difference . . . a big difference. Finally, I asked, “This book talks about being born again. Have you been born again? If so, when?” He replied, “I have always known God, and I have read the Bible frequently, but as I was reading this book and its explanation of what it means to be born again, it was like a light went on and I understood the true significance. While I was reading this book, I was born again.”
This is thrilling news, but there is one other important note to make. God used many different people to bring Horacio to himself.
About five years ago, Horacio walked into the office of a Christian doctor who worked at the community health center. Beside giving Horacio his medical exam, she also shared the gospel with him and invited him to a Bible study. To this day, Horacio talks about Dr. Quica who drew out the plan of salvation for him on a pad of paper in her office. He heard the gospel, but wasn’t saved then.
For two years, Horacio attended that Bible study that was led by a Portuguese pastor. This pastor drove an hour each way every week to meet with five or six people and study the Bible with them. Horacio heard the gospel again, and wasn’t saved then.
About two years ago, I entered Horacio’s life and also shared the gospel with him both personally and through preaching at church. He heard the gospel again, and wasn’t saved then.
In all, Horacio had probably heard the gospel dozens of times.
Finally, one night last week when he was reading that book I gave him, he was saved. This was a book written by a well-known pastor in America whom he has never met. This time, Horacio understood, and was saved.
Who led Horacio to the Lord? God used many different people. He used a doctor who cared about her patients’ spiritual conditions. He used a faithful pastor who gave of his time each week to do a Bible study with a few interested people. He used me, a missionary who was willing to sit and have coffee with this man and listen to him. He used the author of the book I gave Horacio to make clear the truth of the gospel.
You never know how God may use your life to bring somebody to Him. Keep praying, loving, caring, sharing, and trusting that God can save.