Changing the Plan
by Carlos Ingles
If you had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with people who do not attend any church and who are willing to listen carefully, what would you say? In my case, every Tuesday and Wednesday I have the opportunity to talk to many people who come to our church to receive food from our Resource Center. They are split up into groups of 10-15, and I am one of those who teach them a short Bible lesson. Before I start speaking I always tell them that they are free to go and are not required to stay, and so far they have all stayed.
A couple of days ago I witnessed a moment full of blessing as I told them how Jesus helped a blind man and treated him with great love by allowing him to speak for himself what he needed. At one point a lady raised her hand and said that everything I was saying seemed fine to her, but that it was the first time she had felt that way in a church. She said that she had been in other churches where they persecuted her and where they made her feel bad just because she didn’t convert to their faith. Then she started to cry. “People don’t know about my past,” she said, “I was abused from a very young age and religious people can’t imagine what has happened to me in my life. When someone comes and tells me that I’m wrong if I don’t go to their church I feel bullied and abused all over again. In fact, I am currently in an abusive relationship.”
I only have a few minutes to talk to them, in fact I actually use the timer on my phone to do it quickly, but this time I stopped everything to listen to that lady. Because it is not more important to follow a plan than to follow the needs of the people themselves. I asked her if she wanted to stay afterwards to talk to me. So we finished the lesson and the lady came over and was still crying, so another lady stayed and said, can I give you a hug? And she told her yes. It was a very beautiful moment, when a lady came for food and also received some ears that listened to her and some arms that hugged her. I don’t know many things, I can’t convince everyone, I just know that I try to do my job with respect, a lot of love, and with a lot of empathy. And sometimes you have to change the plan to serve a person. Pray for our evangelistic efforts.
Thank you Carlos for speaking the truth and these inspiring words for us to learn how to be better listeners.