I arrived at the mission a little early for the Sunday worship service and watched the people as they streamed into the small chapel. By the time the music began, the pews were full. I was delighted to see how much the small congregation had grown since I was last here.
As I looked at the faces of the people, I wondered what story they could tell about their lives. I knew some of them. A few were staying at the shelter now. They were here for a variety of reasons; homeless because of physical abuse situations, poverty, or, perhaps, substance abuse. Others were former residents of the mission. They were ladies whose lives had been turned around and who were now productive members of the community. They still came back to the place where they first met the Christ who redeemed them and changed the direction they were going. Still other worshippers live in the neighborhood and make this their church home.
Then I saw him, a smiling young man, standing at the side until he knew all the ladies were seated. That’s Peter, I thought! I know Peter’s story! Let me share it with you.
Several months ago I was visiting this area. Our friends said, “we’ve found a great Chinese restaurant and there’s someone there I want you to meet.” She went on to tell us that, a few months earlier, they were leaving the restaurant when Peter, the young server who had waited on them, told them “when you eat here it always makes me feel happy.” One of the group told him the reason for their happiness was because of Jesus Christ being the Lord of their lives. The next time he saw them, Peter asked if they would teach him about their God.
Once a week, they met with him to share the truth of Jesus. Later, after being given a Chinese/American Bible, Peter accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Peter began attending the chapel services at the Mission. Last summer, he served as a counselor in the summer youth camp. Now one of their faithful members, he is able to share with others the reason for the joy he feels.
The lesson to be learned here is two-fold. First, we need to ask ourselves if our words, our demeanor, or our actions, will prompt others to ask, “what is different about you.” But, I think the greater lesson, and the one we so often miss is, are we alert so that we don’t overlook an opportunity to witness for Christ? Do we have the boldness to openly and proudly proclaim the reason for our joy?
If my friend had never taken advantage of this opportunity to tell Peter about Christ, he may never have come to know Jesus as his personal savior. And the young lives he is now touching for Christ might never have happened. Do we really believe we can make a difference? Do we believe this strongly enough to risk persecution or the disfavor of others?
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.