At the end of their curriculum, the Day School of Transformation took a month long mission trip, spending equal amounts of time in Moldova and Hungary. Healings and salvations took place during the trip and many testimonies poured in from their time engaging with the people of Moldova and Hungary.
One such story came from Hannah, a graduate of the School of Transformation who watched Jesus move powerfully in Hungary.
The thing that I learn over and over again on the mission field is that nothing I say matters. I have given the most articulate defense of the Gospel that would make C.S. Lewis sit up and take notice, only for my audience to dismiss me and walk away. But I have also stumbled through the ‘Bridge Diagram’ and forgotten to share major things about Jesus (like “He is the Son of God” major) only to have people respond with eagerness to hear more.
Nothing I say sways people. There is no way I am eloquent or passionate enough to make people alter the course of their entire lives. Their responsiveness completely depends on what God speaks to their hearts in the moment. When I go on short term mission trips, I don’t have the time to develop deep friendships so that I can paint stories about how great God is. If I have any hope of being effective when I have two weeks in a city, I need to tap into what God is currently doing.
But sometimes He still blows my mind.
I was walking through Budapest on my way to an outreach at a park. While I walked, I prayed that the Lord would highlight a particular person so that I could talk to them. As I passed a train station, my eyes latched onto a young couple come out the doors and take a few selfies together. This is my chance, I thought, swerving to swoop down onto the couple, offer to take their picture, and start a conversation. Before I took two steps in their direction, the young man caught my eyes and gestured to me, speaking a few phrases in Hebrew. “I’m not Jewish,” I told him, the misunderstanding a strange daily occurrence that happened to me in Budapest. “Can I help you?” He blinked, told me his name was Ibrahim, introduced his wife (who did not speak much English), and asked for directions to the same park that I was walking towards. I invited the couple to walk with me and started asking them questions. They were from Israel and were visiting Hungary for their anniversary but were heading back to Tel Aviv the next morning. When I told them that I was from America, Ibrahim nodded sagely. “Ah, America. So you must know Jesus then.” “Um, yes, I do,” I answered. “I would like to know Jesus,” he told me, almost as an afterthought. My head snapped around to stare at him. “What do you know about Jesus?”
Ibrahim narrated the story of Jesus, from his birth to his death, and then told me about an American friend who had studied abroad at his university in Tel Aviv. This American was from Kansas and had been a part of IHOP (International House of Prayer). After he went back to America and graduated, this friend ended up getting a job back in Tel Aviv at the same firm as Ibrahim where the two reconnected. For the past three years, this American has been discipling Ibrahim by inviting him into his life and sharing about Jesus.
“Jesus is the only God who actually transforms lives,” Ibrahim told me. “No other religion does this.” Encouraged, I shared a few stories with Ibrahim from my life and how I’ve seen God change people’s lives all around the world. “I’ve thought this but,” he shrugged, “it never seemed like it was for me. I was too busy. The timing was not right. But now I feel different. When I get back to Tel Aviv, I want to ask my friend if I can follow Jesus.” “You don’t have to wait! We can do that right now!” I did not need to convince him. I ended up leading Ibrahim and his wife through the prayer. After, I asked, “What do you know of the Holy Spirit?” Ibrahim brightened. “Yes! Holy Spirit! Gifts of the Holy Spirit! I want them!” I prayed for him, he said he felt warm and this his skin was tingling and there was joy in his heart, then he prayed for his wife to receive the Holy Spirit.
We talked a few more minutes and they promised to get involved in church when they returned to their city. When we got to the park, we hugged and then went our separate ways.
I love that it doesn’t matter what I say, that I barely got a sentence out of my mouth before Ibrahim was asking about Jesus. God had been preparing his heart for years and I was privileged to be invited into twenty minutes of that process.
I can’t wait to see that couple in heaven.