As many professors at Southwestern Seminary do, Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”), leads his students in prayer for the lost at the beginning of each class. During the fall semester, one of his evangelism classes specifically prayed for Chieri, a Japanese student studying English at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Master of Arts student Virginia Sun brought Chieri’s name to the class after meeting her at the beginning of the semester when she visited the International Baptist Church of Arlington (IBCA). Sun was immediately eager to share the Gospel with her, and she invited Chieri to attend IBCA each Sunday in hopes of making the most of Chieri’s one semester in the United States (she returned to Japan in January).
Chieri accepted the invitation to attend IBCA each week, and after each sermon, Sun met with her to discuss that day’s sermon as well as share the Gospel. The first time Chieri heard the Gospel, she was not receptive—she responded with nothing more than a polite smile and a nod.
Several weeks later, however, in partial answer to the prayers of Sun’s evangelism class as well as those of her accountability group, Sun observed a change in Chieri’s understanding of the Gospel. While listening to an explanation of the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross, Chieri, instead of simply nodding, said, “This is very good news because, many times, I feel like I have too much sin.”
Noting the shift in Chieri’s understanding, Sun reflects, “I realized that the Spirit was convicting her of her sin. I explained to her that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. When she asked me a follow-up question relating to the Gospel, I felt as though she finally started to understand.”
Although this was a significant step forward, it would not be until Dec. 27—roughly six months after their first meeting—that Chieri was finally ready to respond to the Gospel. After the sermon at IBCA that day, Sun met with Chieri once again to discuss the main points of the sermon. With only a few weeks before Chieri would return to Japan, Sun asked if she could highlight some important verses in Chieri’s Bible for her to remember when she returned home.
After reading through these particular verses, Sun asked Chieri to explain them in her own words. They had done this numerous times before, but this time, when she read phrases such as “the free gift of God” and “will not perish, but have eternal life,” Chieri was more attentive than in the previous months. “She seemed to be a lot more focused and stared at the words, saying ‘Oh,’ which greatly contrasted her normal polite responses,” Sun says.
Sun looked in Chieri’s eyes and asked, “Do you want Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior?” Chieri immediately teared up, paused for a moment, and then finally said, “Yes.” Sun happily led her in a prayer of salvation, after which Chieri thanked Sun for teaching her about God.
Considering the challenges of language and cultural differences, with the two often resorting to hand motions and pictures, Sun explains that the commitment of her contemporary evangelism class and accountability group to pray for Chieri played a significant role in her salvation. “Praying for Chieri each week was so important. My entire community was praying for her,” Sun says. “I know for sure that her salvation is not because we were great at sharing; only the Spirit can show her that Jesus is the only way.”