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Souls for Whom Jesus Died (NZ)
I was having breakfast with my dear brother in Christ, Tony H, on his back patio in Palmerston North on a Monday morning in October 2000. He was telling me about the orchard behind their place being owned by the Exclusive Brethren. Having many friends in that sect in Northland, I asked him where these folk worked. He said they had a shop-front out on the main road, “the first outlet you come to past the residential area,” a block Tony walked & prayed round most days.
Deciding to introduce myself to the “brothers”, after breakfast I jumped into my car and drove round to the first outlet. It was a timber yard. I drove in, parked my car, wandered around and then went inside. The staff were busy so I looked at material for sale before approaching a man behind the bench. He was strong, tanned, rough - a typical hard-working Kiwi bloke!
“So you guys are Christian brethren, I hear,” I began.
The guy looked at me strangely & shook his head.
“Is anyone here, exclusive brethren?” I continued.
His answer was an adamant no! But he thought about that for a moment and then smiled. “Oh them. That’s next door, over the fence. They own the plant nursery.”
I apologised but then followed up with another question. “Well, out of interest are you a Christian?”
He laughed. “Hypocrites! You Christians are all hypocrites and I don’t want to be a hypocrite!!”
Normally at that point I’d close off the conversation and quietly leave the scene. Today was different. Yahweh had other plans which were about to unfold. Instead of quietly leaving, I challenged his remark which is pretty unusual for me. (Another sign that the Holy Spirit was in control that day, not me.)
“Fair enough,” I continued, “but one day you will have to stand before God on judgment day and defend yourself. Do you know Jesus loves you?” (I had never been so blunt in all my life!)
“No! I do not know that!” he replied angrily.
Now I wish I knew how we got to the next stage but I just can’t remember. All I know is that in the next 10 minutes, George poured out his life to me. There were no other staff around and the timberyard was suddenly bereft of customers, the Lord’s doing I imagine. George was the owner of this timberyard with several staff employed here by him. But his wife had just left him and he was missing deeply her and his children. He was a broken man and within minutes was literally weeping on my shoulder.
Just as quickly, the peace was broken as cars started arriving, phones ringing and George was expected in several places at once. I handed him my Christian tract, encouraged him to read it and said, “Jesus is touching your heart today, George. Do something about it today. I’ll be praying for you.” I shook his hand as he did mine, warmly, and I drove out of his timberyard.
The majority of my conversations with people on the streets stop at that point. I never see them again but I hope I will see many if not all of them in glory…. But this was no ordinary day. I drove immediately back to Tony’s who hadn’t yet left for work (he teaches at
The rest of the morning I spent meeting people. First I went to the nursery to meet the brethren & we chatted amicably. Then I drove up to the university, wandered round the campus, meeting a few staff and students, and left some tracts with those who were interested. At I returned to Tony’s for lunch and while enjoying it back out on his patio, the phone rang. Tony handed the phone to me. “It’s a lady called Gladys for you, Murray.” I knew no Glads in Palmerston North but took the phone.
“Hi. I’m Glad. You don’t know me but you know my son George,” she began. “He read that tract you gave him and needs to see you back at his timberyard. Can you go?” Of course I could. I thanked her for ringing and was back there in 5 minutes, Tony going to prayer. Prayer warriors are a wonderful asset when we‘re witnessing. Back at the yard, George dropped whatever he was doing, drew me aside and said, “I’ve read that leaflet you gave me. I need to do something about it now. What do I do?” My heart leapt inside me. Was George asking to become a Christian? It would be wonderful if he were but there were some serious precursors before that could take place. I suggested we go somewhere private for an hour. He suggested his new flat & so I drove him round there.
Once seated and comfortable, I asked him to explain. George said he’d read what I said, it made sense and he needed Jesus. I told George I needed to explain what Jesus did on the cross for us. He was ready to hear the gospel. Over the next 40 minutes I explained very carefully the whole gospel from God’s creation, the fall of man in sin, Jesus redeeming our sin on the cross & his resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of glory. He listened well throwing in the odd question. At the end he said, “So how do I receive Jesus?” I explained it was simply by asking him but he needed to repent first of all that he had done & then hand his life over to Jesus asking for His forgiveness, His healing & His Spirit. I also explained that as he prayed I would be listening as a witness, agreeing with him in prayer. George set about in the next few minutes unburdening his life to God. Then I led him in a prayer of receiving Jesus into his life & also laid hands on him to receive the Holy Spirit.
We went back to the timberyard & farewelling George I gave him a cassette tape of praise-filled songs that I often listened to in my car. He thanked me and hugged me!
Two days later when I was back in Palmerston North (after speaking in Wanganui), I dropped by the timberyard. George was on the phone but once the call was completed, leapt from his chair, and motioned for me to come into the office for a coffee. He warmly shook my hand. “My secretary is already noticing my lack of swear words,
The following day, having made a visit time, I parked my car outside her home and was only to her letterbox when Glad opened her door, ran down the driveway, asked me if I was
Sipping tea in her nice home, I asked how she came to phone me. She began. “George phoned me mid morning on Monday to say a man had come into the timberyard from out of town and given him a tract about Jesus and there was something different about him & he needed to have a longer talk with me about this subject. Could I find him? I ask George who he was. George told me his name was
Well, well, well. Tony had prayed asking for a Christian relative and what better person than George’s mother Glad. Who else would have gone to the trouble of trying to find me.
I saw George a few more times that week & introduced him to Tony. George has since sold his timberyard but I still write to encourage him. It hasn’t been easy. But I hope to see him on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem one day with his mother Glad.
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