We first met Gene when he wandered into the Midtown Cafe asking for spiritual guidance. With some help from volunteers and local pastors, Gene learned the gospel, placed his faith in Jesus, and got baptized.
He was on fire for Jesus and wanted everyone to know his story. Sometimes he stood up in the middle of the cafe and told everyone how God rescued him from alcoholism and helped him establish a stable home for his two daughters. On one occasion, Gene’s testimony inspired a homeless addict to cry out to Jesus.
Then Gene disappeared.
His cell phone number stopped working and he wouldn’t answer his door when we knocked.
We were distraught. After walking with him for over a year, Gene didn’t want to see us anymore.
We prayed for him in his absence, and eventually concluded we’d never see him again.
Then one day, Gene showed up at our new location. He was smiling and laughing and gave each of us a big bear hug. He apologized for avoiding us and immediately started helping us move furniture into our new office space.
One of the reasons he started avoiding us was because he was ashamed. He had let a woman move into his house after we warned him against it. She ripped him off and he had to have her arrested. He was embarrassed to tell us what happened.
We long to see Gene grow and mature in Christ. To come to a place where he doesn’t make mistakes like taking strange women into his house, yet also trusts his brothers in Christ to give him grace and forgiveness when he does make mistakes.
Discipleship is important, but we can’t just make that happen. Like anyone else, Gene has to learn how to remain in Christ and listen to the Holy Spirit. We can tell him the truth every day of the week, but how he chooses to handle the truth is ultimately his responsibility.
So besides preaching at Gene, what can we do?
When the Apostle Paul heard about the blossoming faith of new Christians, he started praying for them.
This is what he wrote to them:
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10, ESV)
What a way to pray for someone!
Perhaps the best we can do for new believers is hand their growth and maturity over to Jesus. He knows what they need to grow – and he may ask us to participate. But our participation must start with prayer.
Someone once said, “We have no business talking to people about God until we’ve talked to God about people.”
A great way to practice loving someone is to be able to say, “I’ve been praying for you” with a clear conscience.
Visit our PRAY page to see how you might pray for members of our community.