By Roland Clarke
Let me share an amazing encounter in a coffee shop between a Christian and a Muslim. I heard this story from my friend, Melissa who was there when it happened. She was sitting talking at a table with a group of ladies while her father, Joe, was enjoying his cup of coffee by himself. She saw him get up and walk over to two Muslim men at a nearby table. It was only afterward that she found out what he actually said to them, “I apologise if this seems a bit strange, but I can’t help feeling that one of you needs a hug. Am I right?”
There was a pause, then one of them said, “You’re right. My friend here has just been told that his family doesn’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Joe reached out and hugged the man. As he did so the man whispered into Joe’s ear, “My family has rejected me because I accepted Jesus as my Savior.”
Upon hearing this story, I wondered, “What would I have done if I had been in Joe’s shoes? Would I have heeded the Spirit’s prompting and obeyed? Or would I have been too timid, too self-conscious?”
The following Sunday our worship leader concluded the church service by reading half a dozen Scriptures focusing on the mandate to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As he dismissed us to the foyer for coffee, I felt compelled to go to the front and tell Joe’s story. I had to muster up a great deal of courage, almost as much as Joe in order to hug the Muslim stranger in the coffee shop.
I started by reading two Scriptures which urge Christians to overcome our reticence or timidity when proclaiming the message. In chapter 40 verse 9 the Psalmist said, “I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out.” In 2 Timothy 1:7-8 Paul tells Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”
None of us should be ashamed to speak about the Lord. I concluded by reminding the congregation that Christ didn’t just give us a command to proclaim the Gospel, he promised to be with us and empower us, saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8)
When I finished everyone surprised me by applauding. To God be the glory!
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