Story by Anita Y.
Earlier in the year, around mid-March, I, along with Marcus, a student who attends the University of Melbourne and two Power to Change missionaries – Tim and Josie, decided to do some outreach at Uni Melb. For me, this was the first time I had taken part in outreach on this campus as well as a long time since doing outreach at uni as we had been in lockdown over the past two years. So going into this outreach session, I was feeling quite nervous and was still getting used to talking to students about Jesus.
Throughout the morning, Marcus and I approached a handful of people and had some very brief conversations with them, asking if they had any interest in engaging in a conversation about God, faith, spiritual things or if they had ever come across Christianity before. We shared with them that we wanted to give them an opportunity to ask any questions or share with us experiences they had if they came from a different faith, but it was also an opportunity for us to share about what we believe in. However, after many conversations with people expressing that they weren’t really interested, we continued to walk around the South Lawn and saw a guy sitting behind a tree by himself and decided to approach him. And this conversation with this guy, his name is Jeremy, looked very different to all our previous conversations earlier that day.
As we asked Jeremy about his faith background, if he had one or was curious to explore, he shared with us that he grew up in a Catholic family, went to a Catholic school, and it had been very much part of his upbringing. However, from the late years of high school until now, it was no longer a regular part of his family’s life – only during the “special” occasions such as Easter and Christmas. For Jeremy himself, though, he shared with us that he had recently been thinking a lot about God and His existence and prior to us approaching him, he shared that he had been reading Romans 8! How timely!! And so, we asked Jeremy if he had ever heard that he could have a personal relationship with God, to which he replied no but was interested in hearing about it. And so, given that he was not rushing off to class and had some time right then and there, we went through the Knowing God Personally booklet with Jeremy.
As we chatted with Jeremy about God’s love for him, about sin, about Jesus’s death on the cross for him and His resurrection, I noticed that Jeremy was quite quiet and didn’t say very much, although his answers to questions that I asked were pretty much spot on, and it seemed like he understood all that we were explaining to him. Initially, I thought perhaps he was not interested anymore…but nevertheless, I continued, and Jeremy remained engaged in the conversation. Within the Knowing God Personally booklet, there is a page that invites the individual to pray through a prayer to accept Jesus into their life if they are ready to – after reading through the previous pages. When we got up to that page, I asked Jeremy what his thoughts were, if there was anything that was preventing him from accepting Jesus and if he thought he was at a point in his life where he wanted to accept Jesus into his life, and he said YES! And so, he repeated the prayer and gave his life to Christ that day!
Prior to sharing with Jeremy about Jesus, I had felt a bit nervous and deflated as most of the previous conversations we had were quite surface level, but God gave me to courage to approach Jeremy, and throughout the conversation, He really did give me the words to say, as I had never personally led anyone to Christ and didn’t really know exactly what I was doing… As Jeremy remained quiet when we were going through the booklet, I see that now perhaps he was considering the seriousness of this relationship with God. I think the timing in which Marcus and I approached Jeremy and had this conversation with him was all orchestrated by God so perfectly as Jeremy had been thinking through God’s existence and reading through the Bible prior to our conversation. And what a privilege it was to be able to help Jeremy take that next step, committing his life to Christ! Since this encounter with Jeremy, we have remained in contact and hope to meet up with him during Semester 2 to explore more of what it looks like to live his life as a Christian.
I think this experience of sharing my faith and being able to have the opportunity to lead and witness someone give their life to Christ reminded me that God is with me as I do this and that it is ultimately about this person coming to know Him, entering into a personal relationship with Him, and not about me – I am a signpost for this person to know God as their Lord and Saviour. I think it is such an encouragement that God asks us to partner with Him, to bring others to Him, and He gives us a part to play now that we are part of His family. And also reminds me that as we go and share our faith with our friends, family and students on our campuses that we have never met before, telling them about Jesus, planting that thought or seed, that’s our job, and God is the one who grows that – sometimes we get that privilege to witness the fruit, that is, someone accepting Jesus into their lives, and other times it’s just planting that thought in their mind. All in all, God is the one who turns that into something bigger, He is sovereign over that, and we don’t have to be concerned about the outcome – what a comforting assurance that is.