I am so glad that on the 17th December, 1971 a young man, 20 years of age, took a flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to visit his younger brother, a dance student in London. His mission: to connect him with Christ by means of the gospel. That man was my brother. Our father had died earlier in the year and my brother was keen to come to see me and offer comfort following our loss.
But he had something far more wonderful to offer than human comfort. That was the divine Comforter himself!
Anyone who has come to know Christ, whether through painful or joyful circumstances, will gladly tell you that it’s truly wonderful to re-connect with God. The power of God working in you brings you into the very life of God. You feel this life surging in you, cleansing you, changing you, connecting you to the source of all meaning, purpose and soundness of being.
That’s what I experienced on Christmas Eve 44 years ago. The divine agent was the Holy Spirit who showed me that I had not been living right and that I needed to repent and place my trust in Christ to save me. I did just that and I was born again. Jesus words became true in my heart – “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life” (John 3:6 New Living Translation).
Only God can bring a person into this new spiritual life. That’s true. We depend entirely on the Holy Spirit to convince minds and change hearts. But God uses people to help us on our journey to Christ. The Holy Spirit was God’s agent in my conversion, but my brother was his instrument. He connected with me, he loved me and he told me about Jesus.
Reflecting on those weeks spent with my brother I find a pattern emerging. This pattern has to do with how God uses us to reach out to others – discover, discern, demonstrate and declare. My brother began by re-discovering me. I mean he took the time to re-connect with me. We did not always get on as children. We were so different. I was artistic, he was interested in car mechanics. I was attending ballet classes, he was learning martial arts. But seeing him in London after some time of separation, I was impressed by his genuine interest in what I was doing and what I was like as a person inside.
At first, I put this down to his brotherly-kindness following the death of our father, but I knew there was something more to it than that. As my brother discovered me showing genuine interest in me, he was also discerning something about me. I was searching. The pain of my father’s death 11 months earlier had resulted in a feeling of emptiness and I had begun to come up with my theories of life, the universe and everything! God had to be some powerful influence – such as nature, and peace had to lie in coming into harmony with the natural forces which operate in us and around us.
My brother did not ridicule my ideas. Instead, he discerned that God was working in my heart, gently drawing me to himself. It is so easy to demolish false ideas your friends share with you about spiritual matters. There is a text for every pretext! But if you refuse to rush in and, instead, listen to the person, you might just discern that God is up to something.
Instead of brow-beating me with Christian doctrine my brother demonstrated Christ to me. He openly shared that some months before the trip he had become a Christian.
The difference it had made was clearly obvious. I was intrigued. He was speaking about a personal relationship with God. He talked about the changes he had made to his life – not just obvious lifestyle changes, but change coming from his heart. He had come to love God and find deep, inner satisfaction in Christ.
This opened me up to the final element in this process: declaration. My brother gave me a clear presentation of the gospel. He was patient and gentle, non-defensively answering my questions. Just a few days later I was giving my life to Christ and on my way to a sound and lasting conversion. I had re-connected with God. Christ was now my Lord and Reconciler. He was my now my very life.
In your outreach to friends, family and colleagues allow the Holy Spirit to be make you an instrument of connection.
Remember it is a process which will include all the elements found in the story of how I came to Christ.