I want to share with you something that happened when I was a teenager which had an enormous impact on me. It was after I had become a Christian, so I was at least 16. As I may have mentioned earlier, I was a bit obnoxious about sharing my faith with others. I thought that it was my job to tell everyone (including friends and family) about what the Bible says about hell, our need for Jesus, etc. The only problem is that the way I went about it was impersonal and condescending. The friend of mine who was involved in the following situation had been a recipient of one of my sermons/lectures. She was good-natured and put up with me, but the conversation didn’t go anywhere. No big surprise there, given my methods!
Fast forward to some later date (I’m not quite sure how much later), and this friend invited me to come to her birthday party once I was done with work. I showed up probably sometime after 10, only to find her in a compromising situation and being yelled at by another friend. There was drinking going on at the party. My friend had had too much, made an error in judgment, and was now crying and looking rather helpless. I could see how miserable she was and I didn’t have the heart to say anything condemning. I just wanted to get her somewhere safe where she could recover and rest. As she was being berated, I went into action.
She was in such a state that I had to help her get dried off and dressed, gather her belongings and take them to my vehicle, and escort her to my car. We drove home (where I still lived with my parents) and I helped her upstairs to my bedroom. (Thank goodness my parents weren’t up to ask questions!) I had a big old bed that was plenty large enough for both of us, so she slept on the outside for better access to the bathroom. So there we were, parked in my bed to hopefully get some rest and sleep it off. I helped her when she would occasionally wake up and be sick into my trash can.
In the morning she was well enough to go home, and I believe she called someone to give her a ride. That was the end of the incident, until I received a letter from her a little while later. I’ve kept it all these years as a reminder and for encouragement. I’ll only share parts of it here.
In the letter she thanked me for not judging her or showing any disappointment in her. She said, “Just by sitting by me when I was feeling out of control helped to calm me.”
This next part hit me like a ton of bricks, “I’ve known you’re a Christian for quite a long time, but this act of caring proved it to me.” Well, if that statement wasn’t enough to tell me how to effectively minister to others, I don’t know what would.
In closing she said, “I have many friends who would see me in the pitiful, embarrassing state I was [in] and judge me, yell at me and then ignore me. Thank you for just being there.”
I can’t tell you how much her letter touched me and opened up my understanding of how sharing the Gospel message needs to be coupled with loving actions. Sharing God’s Word and our personal testimonies are important things, but without love and caring actions to back them up, they come across as hollow and empty to unbelievers.
Sadly, this friend passed away only a few short years after this happened. She was truly a ray of sunshine–always smiling, joking and laughing. She did end up going to youth group at another church, so I hope that she eventually made the decision to follow Jesus. I’d love to see her in Heaven someday.
Disclaimer: Please know that I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. I didn’t do anything phenomenal or amazing, but dealt with the situation as it presented itself. I didn’t see anything else that I could do. I wanted to share this story with you because it’s something that happened in my life that taught me a valuable lesson, and I thought it might help someone else too.