Lifeway associate welcomes new believer into family of God
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, a man named Vincent walked into the LifeWay Bookstore on the campus of Southwestern Seminary looking for a Bible. Thanks to the evangelistic witness of LifeWay associate Patricia James, he walked out of the store a new believer.
Vincent is from Holland and, at this particular time, was visiting his girlfriend in Texas. When he went to LifeWay, he stood baffled in front of the display featuring the numerous translations of the Bible. James was called over to assist him, and in the process, they struck up a conversation about his beliefs.
James learned that Vincent grew up in a “spiritual household,” but after moving to Holland, his family stopped attending church. Recently, though, his girlfriend and her family had been getting him back in touch with his “spiritual side,” and he wanted to get right with God.
“The one thing that was clear to me was that he was confused,” James says. “To clear things up, I asked him, ‘If you were to die tonight, where you would you go? Would you go to heaven, or would you go to hell?’”
Vincent stated that he would go to heaven. “OK,” James replied. “But why?”
“Because I’m a good person and I’m nice,” he answered. James responded by posing such questions as “How good does a person have to be to get into heaven?” and “What do you think heaven is?” Vincent’s answers revealed his limited understanding on spiritual matters. James proceeded to share the Gospel with him, explaining that though people cannot earn their way into heaven, God made a way through Jesus.
At this point, Vincent remained untouched. He reiterated that his girlfriend was getting him back in touch with his spiritual side. Alluding to feelings of emptiness and loneliness, Vincent expressed that he simply needed to try harder and go to church as much as he could.
James discerned her way in. She explained that God created everyone with an emptiness that only He can fill, and when they try to fill it with other things—even church and Christian music—they are still left with that hole unfilled. James told him that, at one time, she, too, had come to a point where she did not want to be lonely or empty anymore; she wanted to be filled with Jesus, and nothing else would fill her.
“I knew that God was urging me to ask the same of him,” James says, “so I looked him in the eyes and asked if he would like to be filled by the same Jesus who filled me. The young man looked right back at me and said, ‘Yes.’”
So, right in the middle of the store, as other customers were passing by, Vincent asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins, come into his life, and make him whole. “As he said ‘Amen’ and looked back at me,” James recalls, “he had a smile that reached from his eyes all the way to his soul. I will never get over seeing someone fully experience the awesomeness of Jesus coming into his life.”
They proceeded to pick out a Bible, and James counseled him in how to study God’s Word. Before departing, James asked Vincent what was going through his head. All he could say was, “I don’t feel empty anymore.” They hugged, and James told him, “Welcome to the family, brother.”