LEADING PEOPLE TO TASTE THE LORD
A group of saints visited a young, successful attorney in his home for about three hours. The first hour he showed them his own personal garden, and the next hour, while he commented on the news of a local disaster, he began to open up his being to the saints. He told them that he had experienced the Lord in a definite way in college and that he was filled with joy at that time. He said that his life since that time has not been so good because he goes to places such as nightclubs. On the one hand, he likes to go to such places, but on the other hand, he does not like to go. The saints began to share with him that the basic problem with man is sin. They said, “When man fell from God, he became full of sin. Man needed salvation. What you experienced in college was Christ coming into you to save you eternally and to become your salvation. But today the Lord as the eternal, divine, and indestructible life wants to save you from every frustration, lust, and problem of human life in a daily, moment-by-moment way. Yet it is not that simple, and you should not try to save yourself. Your need is just to enjoy the Lord in a simple way by reading the Bible a few minutes each day. Maybe we could start by reading the Bible five minutes a day with you.” To this fellowship, he responded, “Yes, this is what I need. I need a daily salvation.” Then he continued to share more of his problems and the other things which bothered him. The brothers listened and answered many of his questions. At the end of the meeting, he asked the brothers if they could meet with him in a regular way each week. The brothers felt very good about this, but they felt that there was still something lacking in their visit.
These saints were skillful in handling the situation except for one point. When they talked with him about reading the Bible for five minutes each day and he agreed, they should have grasped the chance to read the Bible at that moment in their visit. They could have said, “Why don’t we take a few minutes to practice reading a portion of the Bible right now?” They had a long talk after this point in their visit and their fellowship was good, but much more could have been accomplished. In place of the fellowship, it would have been better to find out whether he had a Bible or not. If he did have a Bible, they could have asked him to open it and read together with them. Then, having read a portion, they could have explained it a little in order to impress him with what that portion said. They could have then asked him to pray, not being satisfied with only a short prayer, but encouraging him to pray in longer way by saying, “Let’s try to pray something a little deeper and little longer.” By this kind of exercise, they would have brought him into the experience of Christ. They did everything very well, but they did not bring him to taste the Lord. After practicing to read and pray, they could have spoken to strengthen him and confirm his need to contact the Lord in such a way every day. He may have asked, “Would you please come back?” Then they could have responded, “Yes, and may we call you every morning?”
We should not forget that too much talk, even the right talk, eventually issues in nothing. In this case, the talk was not absolutely in vain because he still wanted to get back with them in a few days. The group of saints who visited him should remember him before the Lord and ask the Lord to remind him of what he has heard from them. The best practice is to bring people into contact with the Lord immediately and in a regular way each day, even if it is necessary for us to call them on the phone. With such a practice, it may be that after a few weeks such a person could be brought into the church life.
LEARNING TO BE FLEXIBLE IN MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE NEW BELIEVERS
In one of the home meetings the saints have visited a brother who allowed them to come in for only thirty minutes each visit. He strictly watched his clock while they were fellowshipping and responded only in a very disinterested manner. The saints tried to share with him about the mingled spirit, but it seemed to be futile because of his lack of interest. In their fellowship with other brothers about this home meeting, the saints realized that they needed to establish a more friendly relationship with him because they hardly knew one another. The next week they visited the brother and brought some dessert, purposely leaving their Bibles and hymnals at home. This really surprised the new brother. The saints asked about his employment and shared their dessert with him. Soon the new brother forgot about his consciousness of time and began to speak for close to forty-five minutes of their meeting. Eventually, this kind of care by the saints opened this new brother to more fellowship.
This case illustrates that we should not expect to gain people in only a short period of time. Such an expectation is wrong. To baptize someone is easy, and it takes very little time. But to lead someone to experience Christ and to bring him into the church life is not very easy, and it takes time. Therefore, we should not expect to do a quick job. This kind of expectation will be the factor causing us to do many things in a wrong way when we meet with new believers. Few people can be brought into the church by only two or three visits. We must abandon this kind of expectation. You should be prepared to spend at least half a year, perhaps twenty visits, to gain one person. If someone promises to give you thirty minutes each week, he is certainly open. You should bring this person and the home meeting you have with him to the Lord, saying, “Lord, I do not know how to help such a person.” The Lord will give you the wisdom. You also have your other team members who can pray with you, and together you can seek the Lord’s leading concerning the care of the new believers in the home meetings.
In this case, it seems that to speak about the mingled spirit is inappropriate for this new brother at this time. When you talk with someone, you should discern what kind of person he is. If you discern that he is a person who likes to have friendship, you should not go back to his home and jump to the high, spiritual subject of the mingled spirit. In future meetings, you should get acquainted with and get to know this new brother better. It would be good to inquire about his business and his welfare. This will make him happy. You should also let him talk. As you have opportunity, let him know something about you. After three or four visits like this, you and the new brother will have gotten to know one another in a more intimate way, and a close friendship could begin to be built up. Then it will be easier for you to talk more freely with him and to gradually introduce something in the field of God’s salvation. At this point, you could begin to stir up his interest in this other field. Week after week, perhaps after twenty visits, something will be built up within him. If one way does not work very well, try another way the next visit. Eventually, over the long run, something will be worked out with this new believer.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)