Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Meet Ivan, a young Land-Surveying student with a complex past. Rejected by his father at birth, Ivan's childhood was marred by bitterness and a deep-seated pain that built a thick wall between them. He even faced his father's murderous rage, forcing him to flee for his safety.
Though raised in the Protestant church, Ivan couldn't shake off the crushing weight of doubt and confusion. Questions about his father's hatred and his own place in the world gnawed at him. Even his faith in God felt hollow and distant. He questioned why his father disowned him and doubted the goodness of God. He wondered if he was the cause of the rift he saw between his mother and father.
He doubted that the Lord was the Good shepherd He claims to be.
Then, Ivan met David K., a fellow student and Global Partner overflowing with the infectious hope found in Christ. David's gentle persistence in sharing his faith sparked a flicker of curiosity in Ivan's heart. David told him about the salvation available in Christ. To David's surprise, Ivan's friendliness faded, revealing his bitterness. He told David that he never wanted to speak to him again.
David felt bad about the encounter but noted:
"Most people whose lives are rooted in their family religions do not want to be exposed to anything contrary to what they have been taught as they grew up. The same applied to Ivan. Grace was needed because grace is space to grow in, and we all need space to grow."
Although the bitterness that built within Ivan over years quickly extinguished the hope that David spoke about, David refused to give up. He held Ivan in his prayers, knowing that God's timing was perfect. Not long after praying, Ivan called David, saying he wanted to meet immediately.
"I wasn't afraid," David shared, "but I did wonder why he wanted to meet me after hating me so much."
Face to face, Ivan told David:
"I find you to be the right person to speak to. You have never forsaken me."
David listened as Ivan narrated much about his past, his broken relationships, and his "empty faith." Then, Ivan shared something that David didn't expect to hear, but always desired:
"I need to know more about God. I think I got things wrong, and I'm open and ready to listen." Taking a deep breath, Ivan requested, "Share with me the good news, not a half gospel like I heard in the days of my youth, but the whole gospel that I had once rejected."
David reflected on the incident:
"This was something I never expected. My faith was challenged. I realized that God's ways are always higher than ours, and His plans are perfect. Our preaching is never in vain, for God will use our words to impact the lives of those who hear. The transformation may not be immediately visible, but God is always working to transform those people. It is our job to preach the gospel with an open mind because we do not decide who will be saved and who will not—God sorts out the wheat from the tares. Neither should we sow the seed of the gospel only in places that seem ready to receive it. Let us always be ready to welcome those who formally hated and persecuted the Truth when they choose to surrender to God."
David welcomed Ivan's openness and shared the full gospel message, explaining God's love and desire for Ivan to become His beloved son. He emphasized that God is not a father who abandons or crushes His children.
Over the past months, David has been discipling Ivan and encouraging him to study the scriptures. Ivan actively seeks the truth, comparing teachings and questioning the origins and practices of his former religion.
"I continue to encourage him to love God's Word," says David, "because it is through God's Word that we find the truth which sets us free from spiritual bondage."
While Ivan hasn't yet surrendered to Christ, his open heart and eagerness to know the truth give us hope. We know that the truth sets men free, and we pray that Ivan will soon experience that freedom in Christ.
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