Several years ago I went to Mexico to visit some Lutheran churches and mission projects. I traveled with an American missionary working just south of the border, and with a Mexican pastor, Rev. Encarnencion Estrada. Encarnencion told me the story of his conversion. He said that when he was a young man, he and his friends were troublemakers and had no respect for anyone or anything, not even God. They had heard about a Lutheran missionary who was coming to their city to speak. Enacarnencion had the idea that he and his friends should go to the outdoor service and pretend they were interested. Then, in the middle of the sermon, he would sneak around behind the makeshift platform and stage and knock the whole thing over, preacher and all. Then everyone could have a good laugh.
As Encarnencion quietly crept closer, he could not help but hear the sermon. As he listened to the story of Christ’s death on the cross, the words moved him. The preacher said Jesus died for everyone, even the worst of us. Encarnencion wanted to hear more, so he decided to delay his prank for a few minutes. In that brief time, the Lord started to really work in his heart, he said, and he to began shake all over and sweat. He did not know what was happening, but he started praying. Encarnencion forgot all about his prank, and at the end of the sermon, he went up onto the stage he had planned to demolish, and there he gave his life to Christ.
The famous skeptic David Hume (1711-1776) once went to hear the most famous English preacher of the day George Whitefield (1714-1770). Though Hume was probably an atheist, he came away from that service saying, “I was so taken in by that man’s sermon that I forgot to sneer.”
Romans 5:6-8 — You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Acts 13:41-44 — (Paul said), “Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.” As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Romans 10:17 — Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
John 9:25b — “…I was blind, but now I see.”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.
–Ancient Jesus prayer