Josee and Ariel

african american teenage girl

She was relaxing on the sofa, waiting for him to come home.  As as soon as her class ended, she left the university campus. She took  the bus to the condo building where they lived.  She did her homework and or studied for exams in the study for about two hours.  By the time she was done, it was time to fix dinner.

She loved preparing dinner for him.  He enjoyed her cooking.  Her mother taught her when she was 12.  “One of these days you’re going to be a wife.  The sooner you learn how to cook and keep a home, the better it will be for you.”

And here she was waiting for her husband after preparing one of his favorite meals.  Being married to him was beyond what she could have ever imagined.  Every night, she thanked God for blessing her with a wonderful guy whom she was madly in love with and who was madly in love with her.

They got engaged just months after she had introduced him to her mother and sister.  She still hadn’t met his family as yet.  Only his grandmother who was her piano teacher.  Three years ago, it was at her house where they met one afternoon during one of her lessons.  It was on a Thursday afternoon and she was playing the piano when he walked into the living-room.

He sat in the chair by the window and listened to her play.  She was acutely aware of him but remained focused on her playing.  When she was finished, his grandmother, Mrs. Eidelman introduced them.  “Josee, this is my grandson, Ariel.  He’s a lawyer.”

Ariel smiled and held out his hand.  He had the most incredible eyes she had ever seen.  He was tall and very handsome.  “It’s nice to meet you, Josee,” he said shaking her hand.

She smiled shyly.  “It’s nice to meet you too.”

“While you two become acquainted, I’ll go and make us some tea.”

Josee sat down on the sofa and Ariel sat beside her.  “You play the piano very well,” he remarked.

“Thank you.”

“My grandmother is an excellent teacher.  She taught my brother and me how to play the piano as well.”

“Maybe you could play something.”

“Sure.”  He got up and went over to the piano.  He sat down and played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  When he was done, he rejoined her.

“That was amazing,” Josee said.  “Is your brother as good as you?”

“He’s way better than me and that’s why he’s the musician in the family and I’m the lawyer.”

“How do you like being a lawyer?”

“Actually, I love being a lawyer because I get to make a difference in someone’s life.  I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer after I watched the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird.”

“That’s one of my favorite books.  I always said that if I were living in those times and my father was in trouble, I would want Atticus Finch to be his lawyer.”

Ariel smiled.  “It’s one of my favorite books too and Atticus Finch is the kind of lawyer whom most of us in the profession aspire to be like.”

Just then, his grandmother rejoined them and as they had their tea and Apple cake, they spoke about other things.  Then, it was time for Josee to leave.  Ariel offered to give her a ride home.

“So, you know that I’m a lawyer and that I have a brother but I don’t know anything about you except that you’re learning to play the piano.  Which school do you go to?”

She told him.  “It’s a very good school.  I’m going to miss going there.  I’m graduating this summer.”

“Have you decided what you want to study when you go to university?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  I’ve decided that I want to study biomedical engineering.”

“That’s great!” he exclaimed.  “Engineering has been a male dominated field for a long time but I don’t think it will be for much longer.  More and more women are becoming engineers.”

“My father was an engineer so I want to be like him.”

“Were you and he close?”

She nodded.  “Yes, very.  I was devastated when he died.”

“How old were you when he died?”

“Eight.”

“How old are you now?”

“Seventeen.  I’m going to be eighteen in April.”

“Are you dating?”

“No.”  She wanted to ask him the same question but was too shy to do so.

“I’m not dating either.  I’m ten years older than you so, would you have a problem dating me?”

She stared at him.  He wanted to date her.  “No, I wouldn’t have a problem,” she replied.  “What about your family?  Wouldn’t they have a problem with you dating me?”

He shrugged.  “They might.  My mother has always wanted me to marry a nice Jewish girl.  She even has one lined up for me but I’m not interested.”

“I’m a Christian.”

“So?  I won’t be the first Jewish guy to date a girl outside of my faith and I won’t be the last.”

“I don’t think my mother wouldn’t have a problem because, Jews and Blacks have a lot in common.”

“Yes.  We were once enslaved and have always been targeted by hate groups.”

“It’s a sad world we live in.  I can’t wait for Jesus to return.”

“So, are you busy on Saturday?”

“I’m free after sunset.  Like you, Saturday is my Sabbath.”

“So, you’re an Adventist.  I have several friends who are.  We have a lot in common, except Jesus.  You believe that He’s the Messiah and we don’t.  There are many Jews who no longer hold to a personal Messiah, but hope for a messianic age of justice and truth.  For many of us, the coming of the Messiah or the messianic age still lies in the future.”

“Did you know that the first Christians were actually Jews?”

“Really?”

“Yes.  All of the writers of the New Testament were Jewish Christians except Luke who wrote one of the Gospels.  He was a non-Jewish doctor.”

“That’s another thing we don’t have in common.  We don’t accept the inspiration of the New Testament or its account of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.”

“In Hebrews, the writer explains how the sacrifices for sin and the Day of Atonement in great detail.  Maybe one of these days, we can read it together.”

“Maybe.  So, may I take you out for dinner on Saturday evening?”

She nodded with a smile.  “Yes.”

When he took her home and he followed her to the front door, she invited him in to meet her mother and younger sister, Deidre.  “It’s nice to meet you, Ariel,” her mother said as she shook hands with him.  “I’ve heard so much about you from your grandmother.”

Ariel smiled.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Mrs. Carter.  “You have a very nice home.”

“Thank you.  And thanks for bringing Josee home.  I hope we will see more of you.”

“You will,” he promised.  He smiled and shook Deidre’s hand before he announced that he had to leave.

Josee walked him out to the porch.  “Thanks for the ride home.”

“It was my pleasure.  I’m looking forward to seeing you on Saturday evening.  I’ll pick you up at 7.”

“Ok.”

“‘Bye, Josee.”

“‘Bye, Ariel.”  She watched him walk to and get into his car and drive away before she went back into the house.

“He seems very nice,” Deidre said.

“And very handsome,” her mother remarked.

That night Josee told her that Ariel wanted to take her out for dinner on Saturday.  “He wants to date me.”

“Well, I don’t have a problem with you dating him.  Just make sure that you don’t go to his place or do anything you know you shouldn’t.”

“So, you don’t mind that he’s in his late twenties?”

“I was your age when I met your father.  He was in his twenties too.”  She smiled.  “I don’t have any objections.”

Josee smiled.  “Thanks, Mom.”

After their first date, Josee and Ariel began dating.  On her eighteenth birthday, he proposed and she readily accepted.  She told her mother who said, “I think that the two of you should wait for at least three years before you get married.”

“You mean when I’m 21.”

“Yes.  You will be a young adult then.”

“All right,” Josee agreed.  “We’ll wait.”

“Make sure that the two of you go for premarital counseling.  It’s very important that you do.”

Three years later, soon after her 21st birthday, they got married by a rabbi and a priest at a non-denominational chapel.  It was a beautiful ceremony which included both Christian and Jewish rituals.  Her family, high-school and university friends were there.  Ariel’s parents didn’t attend but his brother and grandmother along with his friends and colleagues were present.  The reception was held at a banquet hall.  Josee looked lovely in her simple but elegant dress with her hair in an french knot.  Her face was devoid of any makeup and the only jewelry she wore was her wedding ring.  Ariel looked very handsome in his wedding suit.  As they faced each other and exchanged rings, there were tears in their eyes.  The love they felt for each other was evident on their faces.  Her mother was moved to tears.  In her heart, she knew that her daughter was going to be all right because God was in this.

For their honeymoon, they went to Montego Bay.  They spent eight glorious days on the island.  She smiled now as she remembered their first night in the suite after they had a mouth watering dinner and went for a walk along the beach.  They were both very nervous and excited.  For several moments they stood there staring at each other and then he was holding her in his arms and kissing her.  Since it was her first time, he took it slow.  However, the other nights, he was like a ravenous wolf.  She trembled at the memories.

“What are you smiling about?” the inquiry brought her back to the present and she looked up as Ariel walked into living-room.  She immediately got up from the sofa and hurried over to him.  He lifted her up in a hug.  She put her arms around his neck and lowered her head to kiss him.

“I was just remembering our honeymoon in Montego Bay,” she said after she drew back to gaze down at him.Image-4_4

He smiled.  “I think about it a lot too.”

“Dinner is ready.  While you go and change, I’ll set the table and share out.”

His eyes darkened on her face.  “I’m hungry but not for food,” he murmured before he carried her into the bedroom.  After closing the door behind them, he set her down by the bed so that he could get undressed.  Soon they were under the sheets making passionate love.

Dinner was still very warm when they finally had it.  As they ate, they told each other how their day went.  “I told my friend, Allison that we’re going to Florida next week for three weeks and she suggested that we visit Beth Tehillah Vetikva in Hollywood, Florida.”

“Is that a synagogue?” he asked.

“It’s an Adventist Messianic Congregation made up of both Jews and non-Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah.”

“Josee…”

“I Googled them and it says on their website that they worship God in the context of their Hebraic heritage and they believe that we should live our lives by the word of God.  They also observe the Torah.  Please, let’s just go and see what it’s like.  Allison said that if you don’t like it, there’s a Jewish synagogue not far from there where you can go to instead.”

“All right, I’ll go but I’m only doing it because of you.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.”

They went to Beth Tehillah Vetikva and they both loved it so much that they decided to spend the entire three weeks in Hollywood instead of heading to Tampa as originally planned.  Several months after Josee graduated from university, they moved to Hollywood.  They joined the congregation of Beth Tehillah Vetikva after Ariel was baptized following a series of Bible Studies.

Ariel joined one of the top law firms in Hollywood while Josee got a Biomedical Engineer job at the University of Miami.  Eight years later, they were expecting their first child.  Josee’s friend, Allison was invited to the baby’s dedication because it was on account of her that they went to the House of Praise and Hope where Ariel finally accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Many Jews now recognize that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. The World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center therefore provides a place within the Seventh-day Adventist denomination for every Jew who is waiting for the second coming of Jesus our Messiah to worship God in the context of their faith without denying their own culture – Richard Elofer, World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center Director

Sources:  BBC; Shiksha; My Tea Planner; Inl India; IEEE Spectrum; The International Bible Society; Waiting for Your Boaz; Chicago Tribune; Linkedin; Beth Tehillah Vetikva; World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center;

The Birth of Jesus Christ

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14

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The most wonderful event in history occurred one night in the city of David.  Mary gave birth to her first Child, a Son.  She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Prophecy was fulfilled.  “Look!  The virgin will conceive a child.  She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14) The birth of Jesus was something to celebrate.  An angel, excited about the good news, went and told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.  And this is how you will recognize Him:  You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:10-12).

Excited, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem!  Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (verse 15).  They rushed off and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them about this Child.  All those who were present were amazed to hear the shepherds’ testimony.  The shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child just as the angel had said.

Could you imagine being one of those shepherds?  You are sitting there watching your flock and then an angel of the Lord suddenly appears to tell you that the Messiah—the Savior you had waited for so long is born?  Not only that—the angel tells you where you can find Him and how to recognize Him.  You and the other shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and you see the baby.  You see the face of your Savior.  He is a Baby that would grow up into a Man who would touch the lives of many.  Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.  Like her, we should treasure the things we know and learn about Jesus and think about them often.

During this holiday season many people think only about the birth of Jesus but how about thinking about His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection too?  Treasure not just Jesus the newborn babe lying in the manger, but treasure the Man, Messiah, Savior, Lord and King.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone.

Amos’ Story

People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes – Sheila McKechnie 

My name is Amos.  I became homeless because an untreated bipolar disorder.  I lost my job and ended up on the streets.  I was afraid to go to a shelter because I heard so many stories of how dangerous shelters are.  They’re full of drugs and drug dealers, people steal your shoes and there are bedbugs and body lice.  I preferred to take my chances outside of the shelter.  So, I slept on the streets, abandoned buildings and parks.  I didn’t sleep in parks often because at night they weren’t safe and my sleep was often interrupted by the police asking me to move along.

My life changed when I was arrested for stealing food.  I had begged all day but nobody gave me anything.  Usually, I would get at least five dollars in change and I would buy a hot chocolate and a chicken sandwich from Tim Horton’s.  But that day, I was out of luck.  Maybe it was because it was cold and people were anxious to get home.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I was starving and I had to have something to eat.  I ducked into a supermarket and grabbed a loaf of bread from off one of the shelves but I got caught as I tried to make my escape.  I was arrested.

Fortunately for me, the prosecutor and the defense attorney and the judge said that I wasn’t a criminal but I needed help.  They told me to go to a homeless shelter and to get treatment for my bipolar disorder.  I had to go on medication and see a psychiatrist.  I can see now that getting arrested was the best thing that happened to me.  I got treatment and got better.  Thanks to my psychiatrist, I was placed in transitional housing and received job search assistance.  It was at one of their health and wellness activities that I met Vivica, a Christian woman.

She shared with me that she was a battered woman who was forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and homelessness.  She wound up on the street and stayed there for a few nights until she went into a church to pray.  One night, she fell asleep in one of the pews and the custodian found her.  He referred her here, a safe place where she received the emotional support she needed.

Just recently, she found out that her abusive boyfriend was arrested for aggravated assault.  He would serve 14 years in prison.  I could see the sadness on her face.  “I hope that he will find God in prison,” she said.  “I will pray for him.”

“Do you still love him?” I asked.

She thought about it for a moment.  “To be honest, I don’t think I ever loved him.  I cared for him and stayed with him because I thought that I could help him but I was wrong.”

“I’m sorry that you wound up with a guy like that.”

“Sometimes we meet up with people who hurt and spitefully use us but they need our prayers.  Something happened to them and that’s why they’re that way.  Maybe he was abused too.”

“I wish I could be as forgiving as you.  I’m still sore with my boss for firing me because of my illness.  I guess I should have been taking my medication and gone for treatment but the medication I was taking was making me sick.  I tried to explain that to him but he wouldn’t listen.  He said that he had to let me go because my mood swings were affecting my co-workers.”

2aada538b73f386fc0c3a5cc2396f9be2“I’m sorry you lost your job.  Didn’t you go and get help?  Maybe see a psychiatrist who would prescribe different medication that might be better for you?

I shook my head.  “No, I thought I could manage it but I was wrong.  I didn’t go for treatment.  I took the medication which was making me sick because I wanted to find another job.  Once I got a job, I was going to see a psychiatrist and get new medication but I couldn’t get a job.  As soon as I told them that I was let go from my last job because I had bipolar disorder, the interview was over.  My rent increased and I couldn’t pay it so I had to leave.  I don’t have family here.  They are all back in East Jerusalem.  I’m the only one who moved to Canada because I wanted a better life for myself.  I was tired of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“So, you’re Palestinian?”

“Well, my father is Israeli and my mother is Palestinian.  So, I’m both.”

“That explains why your name is Amos.  It’s the name of a Jewish prophet in the Bible.”

“I was brought up in the Jewish faith.  Before my parents married, my mother converted to Judaism.”

“So, you’ve read the Bible.”

“The Hebrew Bible called the Tanakh.    It contains only the Old Testament.”

“The Bible I read and study contains both the Old and the New Testaments.”

“I know that Christianity is one of the three major monotheistic religions.”

“Did you know that the first Christians were Jews?”

“I don’t know much about the faith except that they believe in the Trinity and that Jesus is the Messiah.”

“We also believe that salvation is by faith and not by works.”

“I’m curious to learn more about your faith and what you believe.”

She smiled.  “I’ll be more than happy to talk to you about these things.”

“How later after dinner?”

“Okay.  We’ll find a quiet place where we can talk.”

“Vivica, would you go out with me even though I’m not a Christian and am mentally ill?”

She sat down beside me and put her hand on mine.  It felt nice and warm.  “Amos, of course, I would go out with you.  There are so many examples of interfaith couples and your mental illness isn’t something you should apologize for or feel ashamed of.  It doesn’t define you.  You and I have known each other for a while now and I have never treated you differently from anyone else because of your illness.”

“That’s true and I’m really grateful for that.”

“I really like you, Amos and to be honest, if you didn’t ask me to go out with you, I would have asked you.  It’s the twenty-first century.  Women are not waiting to be asked anymore.”

I laughed.  “Good for them.”

“Do you think your parents would object to you dating a Christian woman?”

“They might but I can always remind them that when they were from two different faiths when they met and fell in love but then again , they might be happy for me.”

“Happy for you? Why?”

“Happy because something good came out of all of the bad stuff I have been going through lately,” I replied as I reached for her other hand.  “I got to meet you.”

She was so moved by what I said that she couldn’t say anything.  She just smiled and reaching out, she touched my face.

Out of bad situations, God could bring good into our lives.

Sources:  National Public Radio; Daniel Pitino Shelter; Salvation Army; Solutions Center; Treatment Advocacy Center; York RegionDare2Share; Psycom

Gifts From the East

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” – Matthew 2:2

Wise Men from the East traveled all the way to Jerusalem to see the King of the Jews.  They didn’t know where exactly to find Him.  They had see His star and followed it.  It led them there in Jerusalem.  They visited King Herod, believing that he would know where the Christ was but the king didn’t.  He was greatly troubled by this and called the chief priests and scribes together to inquire where the Christ was to be born.  They told him what the prophecy said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:  ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

King Herod met alone with the Wise Men and told them that the Child was in Bethlehem, tell them to, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”  The visitors left and the star which they had seen in the East went before them and led them to where the Child was.  Seeing the star filled them with great joy and they rejoiced.

They went into the house and saw the young Child with His mother, Mary.  They fell down and worshipped Him.  They presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What was the significance of each of these gifts?  Were they simply customary gifts from the regions or were they chosen specifically?  Gold is a precious and valuable metal.   It is rare and it doesn’t tarnish.  Precious things and ornaments are made of gold.  In this instance, gold represents Jesus’ kingship.  Frankincense is a perfume or incense.  It was used in religious and spiritual rituals all over the world..  It represents Jesus’ priesthood.  Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which comes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia.  It is also an antiseptic used for embalming.  The myrrh prefigures Jesus’ death and embalming.

These gifts were not arbitrary.  They were carefully chosen for the One whom they traveled far to behold and worship.  They brought their gifts to Him because they believed that He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  What a beautiful story of faith and the love of God who sent His Son to die for everyone.  It is a testimony that Jesus is Savior of Jews and Gentiles.  He came to save the world.

This Christmas season, reflect on the roles of Jesus–King, Priest and Savior.  Think of someone who needs to know that God loves them and offer them His most precious Gift to mankind–His Son.

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Source: Natural Living Family

A Promise Fulfilled

“Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:29-32)

These are the words of a man named Simeon who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue His people. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. He got his wish.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple the very same day that Jesus was dedicated to the Lord. How wonderful! God had fulfilled His promise to Simeon.

Simeon was overjoyed when he saw the Infant Savior. How his heart must have leapt with joy as he held Jesus in his arms and gazed down into that tiny face. He blessed Joseph and Mary. He said to Mary, “This Child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others.”

For many of us, Jesus is the greatest joy. He brought us hope, love, peace and the promise of eternal life.  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaimed, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited His people and redeemed them.  He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David, just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago” (Luke 1:68-70).

What a wonderful promise!  During the Christmas season, imagine what it must have been like for Simeon to see the Lord face to face and to realize that the Lord had kept him alive for just that moment.  Simeon had seen salvation.  He had seen the promise of eternal life before he died.  God had promised His people salvation and then He fulfilled that promise through His Son, Jesus.

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The Christian Faith

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” – Mark 1:17

The Christian faith has mushroomed into what it is today thanks to men and women who were willing to let the Holy Spirit work in and through them to share the Gospel with others.  It all started with two men–one was Andrew and the other was Philip.  After each man encountered Jesus, they went and told others about him.  When Andrew found his brother, Peter he said to him, “We have found the Messiah.” And Philip declared to his friend, Nathanael,“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:41, 45).

Then, Peter and Nathanael were taken to meet Jesus.  How do we follow the example of what Andrew and Philip?  We tell our families, friends and co-workers about Jesus and share the Bible with them.  It is through reading the Bible that they meet Jesus.  We introduce them to Him but they have to get to know Him for themselves.

One of my favorite stories is the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  She went to the well to draw water at a time of the day when she wouldn’t run into other people.  Married five times and living with a man who wasn’t her husband, she wasn’t exactly the pillar of society.   She didn’t expect to see Jesus there.  She could tell that He was a Jew and was surprised when He asked her for a drink of water as Jews didn’t have any dealings with Samaritans.  And she was a woman.

Jesus spoke to her, telling her what true worship was and salvation.  When He told her things about herself that a stranger could not have possibly known, she thought He was Prophet.  Jesus revealed that He was the Messiah and excited, she left her water-pot and ran into the city to tell the people there, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”  Like Andrew and Philip, the woman met Jesus, went and told others about Him before bringing them to Him.  Many of the people believed in Jesus because of her testimony.   The woman discovered that despite the fact that Jesus knew everything about her, He loved her.

Does your neighbor know that there is a Savior who loves him or her and wants to reach out in love and forgiveness to him or her?  This encounter between Jesus and the woman was an example of how the Gospel should transcend racial and gender barriers.  The Gospel is for everyone.  Salvation is for everyone.  We must not allow our prejudices to get in the way of spreading the love of Christ to those who need it.

So, we see a progression here.  The mission field begins at home, with our relatives and then spreads to our friends and then our neighbors.  It follows what Jesus said to His disciples when He sent them out to preach and minister to others.  “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5, 6).  The Jews were to receive the Gospel first and then the Gentiles and Samaritans.  It makes sense that we witness to those closest to us first and then to others.

Once we are willing and open to His leading, God will find opportunities for us to share the Gospel.  He did so with Peter on the Day of Pentecost and Paul when he was in Athens.  After the Holy Spirit filled the disciples, they began to speak in tongues.  The crowd marveled when they heard them speak in their own language.  Some, however, mocked them, accusing them of being drunk.  Peter used their remarks as an opportunity to give a sermon.  He spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  The people were convicted and they asked Peter and the other disciples what they should do and Peter’s answer was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Many were baptized and about three thousand people became Christians on that day.

We may encounter skeptics but, instead of becoming discouraged, we can do what Peter did and use their unbelief as an opportunity to share our faith.  As Paul said, we are to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).  When Paul was in Athens, he saw that the city was given over to idols.  Provoked, he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue and the Gentiles in the marketplace.  He spoke to them about the resurrection of Jesus.  They took him to the Areopagus, curious to hear his doctrine.

Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and addressed the people, acknowledging that they were religious because of the objects of worship and the altar they had built to the Unknown God.  He revealed to them who the true God was.  He was the “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,  so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

When some of them heard the word “resurrection”, they began to mock him while others wanted to hear him speak further on the matter.  And others believed in what he said and joined him, among them a woman named Damaris (Acts 17:23-34).

Paul was prepared to share the truth about the God he worshipped and he used what he saw around him to do so.  He wanted the people to turn from their idols and worship the true God who wanted them to seek Him while He could still be found.  We can use whatever is at our disposal to share the truth about God with others.  Many people still have a negative opinion of God but we can change that by reaching out to them in love, compassion and sharing our testimonies of His goodness.

As in Jesus’ day, the Christian faith is growing and will continue to grow.  Although it is under attack and many believers are facing persecution, imprisonment and even death, it will continue to spread and transform lives until Jesus returns.  We can do our part by reaching out to those around us.  Each one can reach one.  We can do it through handing out literature, through social media, blogging, websites or witnessing in person.  God will give us the means and the opportunities to further His ministry.  All we have to do is to be ready and willing like Andrew, Philip, the Samaritan woman and Paul.

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Sources:  Biblegateway; Blue Letter Bible