When Master of Arts student Laura Rowland first met Lydia in 2016, Lydia had just begun her first semester at the University of Texas at Arlington after moving from China. Seeking community and fellowship, Lydia connected with the International Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas (IBCA). Even though she appeared indifferent to sermons and Gospel presentations, she returned most weeks.

In the year since, many of the church’s members have had spiritual conversations with Lydia; a missionary couple has spoken with her in her own language; and Laura herself has had many opportunities to pray with her, read Scripture with her, and share the Gospel.

Lydia was always accommodating and willing to listen, but she was indifferent to her unbelief. Even then, Laura was happy that Lydia chose to attend the church and was surrounded by believers who were faithful in their evangelism.

When Lydia returned to the church following her summer break, Oct. 1, there was a significant shift in her receptiveness. During a church lunch following the morning service, Laura and Lydia sat together and began to discuss what stood out to them from the sermon. Opening her Bible, Lydia pointed to an underlined passage from 1 Timothy.

Lydia did not understand what the pastor meant when he said the church is a “pillar of truth.” As they discussed the sermon, Laura was able to easily give a complete Gospel presentation. “I told her that the church is the pillar of truth because this message of Jesus Christ is truth,” Laura says.

Lydia was attentive and eager to listen, and when Laura finished explaining the verses, Lydia’s eyes lit up in awe. “Wow! I think my translation isn’t good because I didn’t understand that until you explained it to me,” she said.

Laura, however, knew that Lydia’s difficulty understanding was not a result of a faulty translation, but was rooted in her unbelief. Laura replied, “Lydia, it is not a bad translation of the Bible. It is that you don’t know the Lord. The Bible is clear that if we don’t know God, then there is a veil that lies over our hearts and prevents us from being able to understand the ways of God.”

“But you can put your faith in Jesus,” Laura continued. “God invites all of us to trust in Him as our Savior and Lord.”

After numerous Gospel conversations with Laura, Lydia was finally beginning to comprehend the Good News. She expressed curiosity but was still hesitant. “I am very interested in this,” Lydia said. “I want to know more.”

For Lydia, such a decision would be radical. It contradicted everything from her Buddhist upbringing and would possibly disappoint her family.

Lydia recognized the weight of such a decision and understood its importance, but she did not ultimately make a decision that day. However, Laura believes she is close. In the year that she has attended IBCA, Lydia has gradually become more open and receptive to the Gospel, gradually moving closer to a decision with each conversation.

“I feel the privilege of joining with what God is doing and just being one more person leading her one step closer to Jesus,” Laura says. “I am excited about what God is doing in her life.”

For Laura, her conversation with Lydia was a reminder that perseverance, prayer and faithfulness in evangelism will one day yield results. “I’m convinced that one of these days she is going to be a believer,” Laura says. “She is going to trust in Jesus as her Savior, and we will see her in heaven. Until then, I pray that more people would come alongside her and that God would continue to draw her to Himself.”