Two of the most difficult teachings in Scripture for sinful man to accept is that there is a) an Almighty Creator God to whom we need to give an account (Mt 12:36), and b) that true faith in Jesus Christ is the only one way for forgiveness of sins and eternal life in glory (Jn 14:6).
No true minister of God’s word can preach on these truths of Scripture, especially the latter, and his heart not filled with sorrow and compassion for those who have loved ones not acknowledging God or the only way of salvation (Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34). And so, realizing that only God by the power of His word and Spirit can change hearts and draw people to himself through Christ, we encourage all Christians to keep praying and being a winsome Christian. Pray that God by the might of His Holy Spirit may even use what we say and do to bring that change about.
But how long should we keep praying for that change? Should we ever cease praying for it? No and Yes. Please keep praying for a change of heart until their earthly life is done. There should never be a time, while God gives us and them the breath of life when we should stop praying. God can change the most stubborn hearts to embrace Jesus Christ, even at the eleventh hour (Jn 3:8; Lk 23:42ff). So, don’t stop pleading with God to change hearts so that loved ones will embrace Christ for this side of the grave there is always hope for change.
Second, continue to be a winsome Christian. Some of you may remember Mr Bill Hayden, a former Labor opposition leader, Republican, humanist and the second longest serving Governor-General of Australia. Mr Hayden was often cited as one of Australia’s most prominent atheists. Now at the age of 85, the Lord changed Mr Hayden’s heart and he was recently baptized. Four years ago, he suffered a stroke and spent seven months in the hospital. During that time, he had lots of time to think. Interestingly, one of his biggest inspiration for his conversion has been Sister Angela Mary Doyle, administrator of the Mater Hospital in Brisbane for 23 years. Her continuing Christian witness over many years played a major role in Mr Hayden’s conversion.
Mr Hayden says the baptism ceremony meant a lot to him. “When I went into the church that day, it was a hot day outside, and inside was very cool. It felt like a sanctuary, and I felt elevated in my chest, it was sort of ethereal,” he said. “And I thought, ‘I’ve always been here, I shouldn’t have wandered off’. “I do believe Jesus was such a magnificent man, he suffered for our shortcomings. Christianity is a religion of love. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
So, is there ever a time when we stop praying or being a Christian witness for the conversion of a loved one or neighbour or friend? Yes, when they have breathed their last breath on earth. But until then, keep praying and keep being a winsome Christian. While there is life there is hope and who knows, God may do a ‘Hayden’ on them still. May it indeed be so! JZ.