Evangelism encounters stir up ‘joy in the presence of the angels’
The “Second Mile” evangelism team of Juan Padilla and Jong Lee had just led Gustavo to the Lord when they arrived at Rocio’s house. The angels, therefore, were already rejoicing over the salvation of this Fort Worth resident, even before Padilla and Lee engaged in what would turn out to be their next fruitful encounter. As Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Given what would happen at Rocio’s house, there was much more rejoicing to be had in heaven that day.
The team of Southwestern evangelists knocked on the door, and Rocio, a mother of four, answered. Padilla, a master’s in missiology student, explained to her that he and Lee are from Southwestern Seminary and were interested in praying for neighbors of the campus. Rocio did not have any prayer requests, so Padilla shared that they were also interested in discussing spiritual matters.
“If I wanted to go to heaven,” he asked her, “what would I have to do?” Rocio answered, “You have to be good.”
Padilla shared that there was a time when he, too, believed he needed to be good in order to get to heaven, and he tried. But then he learned that the Bible teaches that salvation is not by works but by faith. Padilla led her through a Gospel tract, explaining that sin separates mankind from God, and they can do nothing on their own to bridge the gap. The good news, however, is that God sent Jesus to reconcile man to Himself, and through repentance and faith in Jesus, man can be saved.
When he finished this Gospel presentation, Padilla asked her, “Is there a reason why you are unable to receive Christ today?” Rocio answered, “No,” so Padilla said, “I can show you how to receive Christ.” Rocio replied, “Please show me.”
Padilla led Rocio in admitting her need for a savior, repenting of her sin, believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then receiving Jesus into her heart as her Lord and Savior. In that moment, Rocio was spiritually reborn.
But as if this testimony were not sufficient to stir up angelic celebrations in heaven, this was not all the Holy Spirit had in store for that time. For as Rocio experienced her saving encounter with the Lord, another spiritual conversation was transpiring nearby.
When Rocio had answered the door, her four children (ages 8, 7, 6 and 5) had come outside and begun playing in the yard. As Padilla spoke with Rocio, the children began to talk and cry. In order to allow Rocio to concentrate on her discussion with Padilla, Lee had the idea to accompany them to a different part of the yard and engage them in a similar conversation.
“Have you heard about Jesus Christ?” she asked them. “Yes,” all the children answered. “Who is Jesus Christ?” Lee continued. The oldest child responded, “He died on the cross!”
“Do you know why He died on the cross?” Lee asked. The children stared back at her, their knowledge having been exhausted.
Seeing her opportunity to share the Gospel, Lee began by explaining that God created the heavens, the earth, and all creatures, “including you and me.” She explained that Adam, the first man, disobeyed God, and all of his children after him have also disobeyed. Lee led the children to consider whether they had ever lied or disobeyed their parents. The children conceded that they had, and they acknowledged that they too are sinners and thus separated from God.
Proceeding to share the love that God has for His creation, Lee told the children about Jesus, the Son of God, whom God sent into the world in order to wash away sin. “If you play outside, your clothes become dirty. So, how can you make clean your body and clothes?” Lee asked. The children answered, “Wash out with water.” Lee continued, “[But] sin cannot clean with water. It can only clean with Jesus Christ’s blood.”
Lee explained Jesus’ death on the cross, followed by His resurrection and ascension into heaven. She concluded by sharing the need for man to respond with repentance and faith. “So,” Lee said, “do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?” Immediately, all four children answered “yes.”
“Repeat after me if you decide,” Lee directed. “‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!’” The children repeated, “Jesus Christ is the Lord and our Savior.”
“Before I proclaimed the Gospel to them, I thought children cannot understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ very well,” reflects Lee, a student in the College at Southwestern. “However, children understood well about the Gospel of God and Jesus Christ. And I realized God’s story of good news is easy to understand for everybody, including children, because God wants everybody saved. Amazing grace!”
As a result of their simultaneous encounters with Southwestern students, Rocio and her four children—an entire household—were saved that day, Oct. 21. “We do not often see entire households profess faith in Christ at the same time,” says Associate Professor of Missions Mike Morris, who leads “Second Mile” evangelism teams each Friday. “When such a thing occurs, we should have the same excitement as the Philippian jailer, who ‘rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household’ (Acts 16:34).” In so rejoicing, people join with the angels in praising God for drawing even one sinner—let alone six—to repentance.