A few years ago, an Italian warship was anchored off Gibraltar. In the evening all the sailors went on shore to gamble, drink, and cause trouble. Among them was one called Old Seventy. He was always the head of the band.
That night while he was roaming around the pier, he saw a house, inside which were a few ladies playing the piano, singing hymns, and preaching. He had never been to a place like this. Out of curiosity, he went in. A woman preacher came up and began to preach to him. She did not care whether he was drunk or not, but started to tell him about Christ’s death for sinners, His forgiveness of sins, and His bestowing of a new life. At the end she told him that all he needed to do to be saved was believe. Old Seventy was very touched. He prayed to the Lord Jesus, believed in Him, and accepted Him as his Savior.
Afterwards, he went back to the ship. He was about to go to bed but felt that he should pray again, so he knelt down before his bunk. There were more than twenty other sailors in the room. When they saw what he did, they started to shout, "Hurrah, something new! Old Seventy has a new trick! My! He really acts like he’s praying. That’s great. You can sit up now." But Old Seventy was still praying.
The crowd began to throw boots at him. But he paid no attention to the boots. After his prayer, he stood up and solemnly declared to everyone that he had believed in Christ. At that word everyone roared and applauded for his excellent show.
NOT THE SAME
The next morning, while he was scrubbing the deck, an older sailor came to him and told him that he also was a Christian. He asked Old Seventy whether he felt a distinctive joy and peace within him or not. If there was not, he was afraid that it was not genuine. Old Seventy replied, "The Americans only told me that when I believe in Christ, my sins will be forgiven. They did not tell me anything about peace and joy. I have to find this out from them." He took leave and went on shore to ask the ladies why it was that he did not have peace and joy after conversion, and whether his faith was a hoax.
An elderly lady sat him down and said, "Don’t worry about how you feel. Let me just ask you one question. Are you different from how you were before?" Old Seventy replied, "I am altogether not the same as before." After a pause, he repeated loudly, "No, I am not the same. I was the most rowdy and mischievous among my company. When it came to wickedness, I was always the first. After last night, I cannot utter filthy words anymore. When I heard the others using foul language, not only was I unable to join them, I was even ashamed of them. Last night they threw boots at me. Formerly, I would have risen up and given each one of them a good beating. But I felt as if nothing had happened. I didn’t even want to beat them. I am definitely not the same as before! No, I can’t be!" At this word, he turned around and ran back to the ship.
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)